ANC Youth League president Julius Malema is pulling out all the stops to ensure that the provincial structures of the league elect leaders who will support him in his bid for a second term next year, his detractors say.
During the course of this year provincial conferences will be convened at which new leaders will be elected in preparation for the league’s national conference in 2011.
Malema’s recent setbacks, including damaging media reports about his business interests and being sanctioned by the ANC’s disciplinary committee, have made his position less secure and the launch of a leadership campaign by his deputy, Andile Lungisa, has raised the stakes.
Malema’s critics in provincial league structures claim that he manipulates the rules to secure victory for his supporters and, if that doesn’t work, elective conferences are simply dissolved.
The anti-Malema camp claims that Pule Mabe, the youth league treasurer, is crucial to Malema’s approach. He was involved in the dissolution of the youth league leadership in the North West, as well as the abandonment of the Eastern Cape conference last weekend.
Said one youth league insider: “[Mabe’s] strategy is to come in and question credentials and, because he is an NEC [national executive committee] member, he has the final say in any meeting or any conference. The buck stops with him.”
But in a counterclaim, the pro-Malema supporters believe Lungisa’s supporters are deliberately disrupting provincial conferences where Malema enjoys majority support to make Malema look bad.
Vuyiswa Tulelo, the league’s secretary general, last week told Lungisa to distance himself from those who were openly campaigning for him to succeed Malema.
“I do not have anything against the deputy president standing for the position of president. The problem is when people from outside decide for him. There are organisational processes. Structures of the ANCYL will approach people as individuals. If he [Lungisa] feels he wants to stand, he can do that once the nominations have started. As of now, he is the deputy president of the youth league,” Tulelo said.
Disputed audits of branch membership are delaying the planned Gauteng conference. Gauteng youth league insiders say Malema is aware that his support for Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane, in her bid to become provincial ANC chairperson, is costing him.
Malema’s proxy in Gauteng, Thabo Kupa, will stand for election as provincial chairperson, but the position will be contested by Lebogang Maile. Maile and his supporters helped Paul Mashatile, the deputy minister of arts and culture, to retain his position as Gauteng ANC chairperson.
Youth league insiders claim audits are being done at the league’s head office in Luthuli House, which they feel favour pro-Malema branches, granting them voting status at conferences while branches that are perceived to be anti-Malema do not receive accreditation.
“Here in Johannesburg, we were supposed to have enough branches in good standing to convene our conference, but now 10 branches may not go to conference because the leadership feels they are not in good standing. But they also know that seven of those 10 branches will not vote for Kupa [the pro-Malema candidate],” a Gauteng youth league insider said.
The youth league in KwaZulu-Natal is set to hold a provincial conference this weekend, with incumbent secretary Bheki Mtolo confident he will retain his position and that KwaZulu-Natal will support Malema for a second term as youth league president.
“The majority here supports that Malema must go for a second term,” he told the Mail & Guardian.
Lungisa’s campaign has not managed to get off the ground, despite pockets of support for him in the province.
Malema is due to speak at the provincial conference to solidify support for his bid.
The Western Cape youth league is still up for grabs, but the deep-seated problems in this branch may make it more effort than it is worth.
The leadership in the province is described by members as dysfunctional and divided with a breakdown in the relationship between the chairperson Siyazi Tyatyam and the secretary Thandi Mahambehlala. The province was due to have a provincial conference but, according to spokesperson Ndoda Ngemntu, the branches are not in good standing and the league is in “disarray”.
“We can’t even talk of who we support for leadership because we don’t know who the leaders here will be. No one can bank on the Western Cape at this point. We may not even go to the national conference next year.”
The national leadership of the youth league this week put its foot down and Tulelo is set to go to Cape Town at the end of May to force them to have a provincial conference.
“I think they are just lazy. They spend far too much time eating braaied snoek, that’s why they can’t have a conference,” she told the M&G.
The leadership of the North West youth league was disbanded this week, with those ousted saying the move is a reprisal for their refusal to support Malema for re-election.
Mabe gave the main reasons as the province’s failure to convene a provincial conference and the provincial executive committee (PEC) being “dysfunctional”.
Mabe has been the provincial convener for a year and the committee blames him for sowing divisions in the party.
“The NEC has taken a deliberate decision to deal with provinces that are seen as not supporting Julius,” a provincial committee member said.
Members of the disbanded committee told the M&G that the Malema faction, the smallest in the North West youth league, realised it was struggling to gain numbers and therefore resorted to dissolution.
Malema’s supporters are said to prefer Tshwane Legae as the provincial secretary and David Masike as chairperson. Both of them are serving on the conference preparatory committee convened by a team of NEC deployees.
Mamogale More, who was the acting provincial secretary of the disbanded committee, is said to be the chief lobbyist of the Malema campaign in the North West, pitting himself against the majority of his committee who are throwing their weight behind Lungisa.
This week More defended the NEC decision to dissolve the structure. “These people were not coming to meetings or they would come late to meetings. The PEC was dysfunctional.”
Limpopo is the only province that has managed to convene a provincial conference, but it was marred by irregularities.
The outgoing provincial executive committee under the chairmanship of Lehlogonolo Masoga formed a parallel committee after new leadership was elected at the conference which they consider to be illegitimate.
The ousted leadership is seeking the intervention of the ANC because the dispute is “polarising members of the league”.
In a detailed letter to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, former Limpopo secretary Goodman Mitileni, outlined their complaints about the conference. Despite the complaints, the league’s national leadership endorsed the newly elected leadership. In his letter Mitileni complained that branches that were in good standing were excluded from the conference and that Malema instructed the SAPS to remove the protesting delegates, a scuffle that resulted in five delegates being hospitalised.
During the course of the events, the deputy provincial secretary Thandi Moraka was arrested for being in possession of ANC documents — a case of theft was opened by Magdalene Moonsamy, a youth league spokesperson and NEC representative at the conference.
Masoga’s ousted committee believes this was unlawful and plans to lodge a complaint of abuse of power with the public protector. They say the police official who arrested Moraka said he was told by the provincial MEC for roads and transport to do so.