The division between delegates at the ANC Youth League conference in the Eastern Cape were clear with those supporting Ayanda Matiti for chairman in yellow T-shirts and those supporting rival candidate Mawande Ndakisa in black.
Matiti was aligned to ANCYL president Julius Malema, with photos of the pair emblazoned side-by-side on the front of the t-shirt.
Malema faces an elective conference in 2011 and his deputy, Andile Lungisa, is reportedly going to contest the position.
Those supporting Ndakisa — wearing black ANCYL T-shirts — have vowed their support for Lungisa.
“We want Lungisa, its time for new leadership,” said delegate Palesa Gceba. She added that the national leadership question had divided the league in the province — with those supporting Malema pitted against those backing his deputy in next year’s congress.
However, Ndakisa said the province had not yet decided on where its support would lie in 2011.
“We have not yet dealt with that debate,” he told the South African Press Association.
Ndakisa’s supporters were dancing and singing struggle songs in a conference room at the Regency Hotel in East London, while Matiti’s supporters were huddled together strategising outside the venue.
He said he felt “comfortable” about his chances in the leadership race, basing his assessment on his support from the branches in the Eastern Cape.
Ndakisa denied that the leadership battle had divided the league in the province.
‘Everyone has a right to nominate and be nominated; there is nothing wrong when people contest.”
Ndakisa said he would “leave conference to deal with the T-shirts” with Malema, alongside his rival, Matiti, imprinted on it.
Earlier, the Matiti camp said they too were confident that they would emerge with their candidate as chairman of the province.
The conference, which was initially meant to start at noon on Friday, had yet to begin by Saturday afternoon after suffering a postponement and a number of delays.
Organiser Mashwabada Gcilishe on Friday said the league’s security team had advised the organization to create new registration tags as they were apparently being circulated ahead of the conference.
Further delays were caused by branches sending replacement delegates to the conference. — Sapa