Manamela re-elected at violent YCL congress

Young Communist League’s Buti Manamela was on Saturday re-elected unopposed as the organisation’s national secretary. Manamela survived the much talked about contest for the position at a chaotic and violent congress of the South African Communist Party’s youth wing.

Four delegates from Mpumalanga were taken to hospital after they were injured by chairs allegedly thrown by disgruntled KwaZulu-Natal delegates.
They supported Khaye Nkwanyane, the former deputy general secretary who was contesting Manamela for the national secretary position. KwaZulu-Natal is his home province.

Police fired teargas inside the Great Hall of the University of the North West’s Mafikeng campus to disperse the violent crowd. On Saturday the congress was dominated by disagreements ranging from credentials to electoral rules. The Mail & Guardian had earlier learnt from delegates close to the process that the outgoing national committee had reached a deal whereby Manamela would retain his national secretary position and Nkwanyane would be guaranteed the national chairperson position in the name of “unity and ensuring that this process goes on”.

The newly-elected top five leadership of the YCL are:

  • Chairperson: Yershen Pillay

  • Deputy chairperson: Mawethu Rune

  • Treasurer: Joyce Tsipa

  • National Secretary: Buti Manamela

  • Deputy Secretary: Mike Mofutsane





A delegate from KwaZulu-Natal told the M&G that the province appreciated the contribution that Manamela made to the YCL, but did not want him to serve another term in office.

“We are the ones who went to Polokwane and said Thabo Mbeki should not serve the third time. Why should we now allow it in the YCL?” asked the delegate. “He has served his time. We cannot reduce the organisation to one person”.

Aggrieved delegates said that Manamela and his supporters “stole” the conference.

“They told us that we are breaking for dinner and once some people left the hall they decided to continue with the nominations,” said a delegate from Limpopo.

The congress was so chaotic that delegates did not break into commissions, which normally discuss the state of the organisation and constitutional amendments should they be needed.

It was expected that the YCL’s Mafikeng congress would amend the constitution to allow Manamela to serve as both an ANC MP and the young communists’ national secretary without being full-time at the SACP’s head office.

“Nothing was done since Thursday,” a delegate from KwaZulu-Natal said, who added that the province would not recognize the leadership elected on Saturday. He and other delegates, who were outside the congress venue, were prevented from entering the hall by armed police who stood guard after calm was restored.

“There is YCL BM (Young Communist League Buti Manamela) inside that hall and then there is YCL SA (Young Communist League South Africa) outside,” the angry delegate said.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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