Brace yourself, Juju, anything could happen

When the dust clears after the ANC Youth League’s elective conference, incumbent Julius Malema is widely expected to emerge firmly entrenched as its president once more. But he would do well to remember how he himself defied expectations to win the crown at the previous conference.

Malema must expect surprises at the league’s four-day national congress in Midrand later this week, an analyst said on Wednesday.

Ahead of the upcoming ANC Youth League elections, M&G deputy editor-in-chief Rapule Tabane looks back at the last elections and tells us what we can expect this time around.

“Voting is secret and surprises might occur,” said Joe Mavuso from the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa).

A challenger to Malema might be raised from the floor.

“There is lobbying, anything can happen ... there [have been] surprises,” Mavuso said.

No stranger to surprise
When Malema was elected in 2008, Saki Mofokeng was tipped to replace Fikile Mbalula because he had the backing of most provinces, but Malema emerged the winner.

Malema has the backing of all provinces to retain his position.
His main challenger is Lebogang Maile, the Gauteng provincial chairperson, who could not secure the backing of his own province.

Mavuso said the conference was also likely to give indications as to who the youth league preferred in the leadership of the ANC itself, ahead of its national conference next year.

No contest
But political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said Malema was likely to emerge with little or no challenge during the conference.

“The person who is challenging Malema is not a known brand. He [Maile] has also waited until very late to challenge Malema,” he said.

Support for Malema in all nine provinces was huge compared to support for Maile, who failed to win endorsements from the nine provinces, he said.

“Malema has been endorsed by all the provinces. Even if he [Maile] is nominated from the floor during the conference, that is not going to yield much,” he said.

Maile’s only chance to qualify to contest Malema’s position would be if he was nominated from the floor. This would require the backing of 30% of the 5 500 delegates expected at the Gallagher Estate venue.

Fikeni said AfriForum’s highly-publicised hate speech case against Malema had helped the youth league leader to consolidate his support among the members of the ANC’s youth wing.

“The much-publicised case was like a coronation for Malema. Many ANCYL members liked what he said during the trial,” he said.

Another post expected to be highly contested is the general secretary position.

KwaZulu-Natal ANCYL deputy chairperson Sindiso Magaqa and Eastern Cape ANCYL chair Ayanda Matiti are vying to replace outgoing incumbent, Vuyiswa Tulelo.

Magaqa is supported by eight of the nine provinces, but Matiti’s camp is adamant its preferred candidate will win.

The four-day conference starts on Thursday. ANC president Jacob Zuma is expected to attend the first day. The election of new leaders is set to take place in a closed session on Friday.

Security at the event is expected to be tight, and the youth league has warned it will act against people who try to disrupt the conference.

The previous youth league elective conference, in Mangaung, dissolved into chaos, and the event had to be re-run a few months later.

The final registration process for delegates attending the Midrand conference took place at different venues yesterday.

The chairperson for the youth league in KwaZulu-Natal, Mthandeni Dlungwane, said delegates were pre-registered in their own provinces before they arrived in Johannesburg.

“All they need to do today [Wednesday] is to finalise the process and get their tags,” he said.—Sapa

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