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28 Jun 2008 20:31
Zodidi Mhlana profiles the top five leaders of the ANC Youth League.
An architect of future South Africa
Julius Malema (27)
ANCYL president, hails from Limpopo
At 27 years old, this is a young man who will be an architect of a future South Africa. This is not only because he is the president of the youth league, but also because he is extremely strong-willed and determined to stamp his own identity on the league.
He is a powerful but arrogant man.
He has created a firestorm and forced the South African Human Rights Commission into a near court case. Malema has vowed never to use the word “kill” again, but he has not apologised.
Malema is a neat but not snappy dresser and seems quite determined to take the bling out of the league. He will push for Lembede Investments, the league’s business arm, to be unwound.
A militant, Malema led a students’ march through Johannesburg in 2002, the looting and violence of which is still well remembered. He is studying communications at Unisa and he matriculated from Seshego High School in Limpopo. As ANC president Jacob Zuma makes his bid for the presidency of the country, Malema is going to be a key member of his inner circle.
Steven Ngobeni (31)
Deputy secretary general, hails from Delmas in Mpumalanga
This young man is described as humble and well-organised. In his day job he is the municipal manager of Delmas in Mpumalanga.
Of the league, he says: “It is the only home for young politicians, it is the only organisation that can teach politics, not violence, and it cares about youth development.”
To grow its membership, the league must educate young people. “We need intensive political education; we need to address the issues of under-development and job creation, and to create opportunity within the league.”
An intellectual, Ngobeni has completed a proposal for his PhD. The topic? Youth development.
At the centre of the funding debate
Pule Mabe (28)
Treasurer general, hails from Phalaborwa, Limpopo
Pule Mabe is a former colleague. He started his journalism career at the Mail & Guardian but has moved on to better things.
Friends say that Mabe is a stylista who drives that de rigueur car of the big BEEs—a black X5. He is a married with two children.
It’s a good thing that Mabe has left the relatively poorly paid world of journalism; as treasurer general, he will have to be on his toes to ensure that the league’s books are liquid.
In addition, he will be at the centre of the debate about how the league will raise funds: through traditional sponsorships and the like or through Lembede Investments.
Passionate about change
Andile Lungisa (29)
Deputy president, hails from Tsomo, Eastern Cape, currently lives in Port Elizabeth
A stylish man of the world, this young politician is going places. Don’t be surprised if he turns up as a premier candidate for the Eastern Cape quite soon. He is a playwright and poet who has been published in various places. He works in the creative industries in the province.
Lungisa is passionate about change. “I want to bring change to our society. There are so many challenges that are facing young people out there — HIV/Aids, unemployment and poverty. The youth league is the organisation that represents the young people, and it gives them a platform to share their views. We have programmes for making sure that young people see issues broadly,” he says.
Discipline is a key imperative in the league and Lungisa says: “We need to make sure everyone respects the values of the organisation. We have the responsibility of making sure that young people’s level of consciousness is high.”
In the run-up to the Polokwane conference last year, he was a strategist who helped ensure that the Eastern Cape, vital in the ruling party, split Thabo Mbeki’s vote in this heartland.
Assertive and strong
Vuyiswa Tulelo (32)
Secretary general, hails from Kimberley
Undoubtedly the star of the show, Vuyiswa Tulelo is a strong organisational hand. Observers describe her as assertive and strong; others say she is ambitious and highly articulate.
On the weekend, she displayed her commitment to hard work: she wore practical tracksuits all conference long. At work at Luthuli House, her style is more Afro-centric cum Erykah Badu. Some have admired her elegant hands topped by manicured nails: her one concession to girliness. We like it.
Tulelo is married and the proud mum of a baby girl who possibly has not seen a lot of her mother. Tulelo has been extremely busy ensuring that the league puts on a productive conference without shenanigans.
A firecracker, Tulelo is the only woman in the top leadership of the league. An organiser and strategist at heart, she was previously deputy secretary and a national executive member of the league.
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