/ 4 March 2011

Purge of league’s lumpen

Purge Of League's Lumpen

The Young Communist League (YCL) is flushing out members and leaders who wanted its national secretary, Buti Manamela, to step down at its elective congress in Mafikeng in December.

Scores of provincial and district leaders have been suspended or expelled in the past two weeks. Topping the list is the league’s provincial secretary in Limpopo, Pat Makape, and Phindile Kunene, the deputy provincial secretary in Gauteng.

Makape contested the position of national chairperson and Kunene accepted nomination for deputy national secretary. The two were on a slate led by Khaye Nkwanyana, the league’s former deputy national secretary, who challenged Manamela. None of those expelled appeared before a disciplinary committee.

Gugu Ndima, the league’s national spokesperson, refused to answer questions on the issue and said that the suspensions and expulsions were “an internal matter”.

“We do not discuss issues of discipline of members in the media. We will not entertain any further inquiries on this matter.”

Blade Nzimande, the South African Communist Party general secretary, supported the move for disciplinary action to be taken in an article published in the party’s fortnightly newsletter, Umsebenzi Online, in December.

Nzimande, widely seen as Manamela’s mentor, wrote that “elements” that tried to “collapse” the league’s congress should be dealt with harshly. He deplored the “lumpenism” of a minority at the congress, who showed “the new tendency of ruthless accumulation to capture all formations of our movement”. The rumour doing the rounds at the congress was that Manamela’s detractors were backed by the Julius Malema-led ANC Youth League.

Creating elements
Nzimande said that the leadership battle in 2012 for the ANC and its alliance partners would create more “elements”. Both the SACP and the YCL had to “act decisively to deal with this ‘lumpen’ behaviour at the YCL congress, by taking very firm action against such tendencies, including disciplinary measures”. Those who opposed Manamela’s re-election for a third term are viewed as natural opponents of Nzimande’s re-election next year.

Others expelled include the deputy secretary of the Linda Jobane district in Johannesburg, Meshack Mdlalose, and a member of the district’s executive council, Terrence Dzeli.

Those suspended include Happy Malobye, the secretary of Linda Jobane, one of the districts that actively backed Nkwanyana; the chairperson of the Oupa Phasha district in Ekurhuleni, Godfrey Letsholo, and his secretary, Sthembiso “Shoes” Nsibande.

Sources in the league’s Limpopo and Gauteng leadership and others close to the league’s national committee confirmed the purges, saying that Manamela’s leadership style was feared.

The decision to suspend and expel members was taken at a national committee lekgotla two weeks ago, the sources said. Provincial leadership structures were empowered to “purge” lower structures.

A district leader from Gauteng said that suspicions were raised when some district leaders were excluded from the meeting. “The lekgotla’s purpose is to draft the programme of action for the year and it is a normal practice that district secretaries and chairpersons should be invited,” the leader said. The immediate expulsion of members is unconstitutional, according to those affected.

“A national committee cannot take that decision. It can only endorse a decision of a disciplinary committee. The YCL constitution says you must be hauled before a DC [disciplinary committee] so that you can defend yourself,” a Limpopo provincial leader said. The Limpopo leadership is also said to have been disbanded and a task team will be appointed to run the league’s affairs in the province.

Makape would not comment, but sources close to him said he was planning to challenge his expulsion. The league refused to say why only members who supported Nkwanyana were suspended or expelled or to give the total number of members allegedly purged.

Both factions disrupted proceedings at the Mafikeng congress. Manamela’s supporters booed David Masondo, the national chairperson, who was seen to be supporting Nkwanyana. Later Nkwanyana’s supporters heckled Manamela.