ANC, youth league meeting postponed

The African National Congress (ANC) has postponed its meeting with the ANC Youth League to separate the issue of the possible disciplinary action to be taken about its comments on Botswana from meeting its new leadership, it said on Monday.

The ANC’s top six officials made the decision at a separate meeting on Monday, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said in a statement.

Present at that meeting were President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Mantashe, his deputy Thandi Modise, ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa and chairperson Baleka Mbete.

They realised during their meeting that some of the issues they intended raising with the league were transgressions which could lead to disciplinary action, said Mantashe.

“With this realisation, the meeting agreed that there should be separation of non-controversial issues from those regarded as transgressions,” he said.

Analysts had believed that the ANC would be lenient on the league over its comments on helping to bring about regime change in Botswana.

“The ANC can’t benefit from any form of disciplinary action. I don’t see that today’s [Monday’s] meeting will have the ability to resolve things,” University of the Witwatersrand political science lecturer Professor Susan Booysen said earlier.

The ANC would do its best to resolve the impasse with the league internally but was unlikely to venture as far as disciplinary action, she said.

Public skirmishes with the league were damaging to the movement and to the government, but the ANC’s top six were likely all too aware of the party’s elective conference next year.

“The rules and the players are different, but already we are seeing the kind of paralysis we saw before Polokwane in the movement and in government,” said Booysen.

‘Laughing all the way to Mangaung’
Zuma ousted former president Thabo Mbeki as ANC president during the party’s 52nd national conference in Polokwane, Limpopo, in 2007.

At the moment, Zuma’s position was particularly precarious, said Booysen.

As the head of the ANC, it was his responsibility to rein in the ANCYL, but he stood to lose as much as anyone else from alienating it.

Zuma has fallen out of favour with the league—dubbed the kingmaker—which wields considerable power in deciding on the ANC’s leadership. It has thrown its weight behind Motlanthe.

“Never mind laughing all the way to the bank, the ANCYL will be laughing all the way to Mangaung,” Booysen said, referring to the venue for the ANC’s elective conference in 2012.

Political analyst Steven Friedman told the Independent Online he was sceptical about whether the ANC would “act decisively” against the ANCYL.

And, last week, Centre for Politics and Research executive director Prince Mashele said that while ANC leaders were speaking out ANCYL president Julius Malema, they were not doing enough to stop his “divisive and reckless” comments.

“He continues to damage the image of the ANC and no one is doing anything about it.”

ANC leaders seemed to be making only ineffective, subtle rebukes, he said.

“There is no question about it that very many senior ANC leaders have long been fed-up with Malema, but frankly they don’t know what they can do with him,” said Mashele.

A ‘serious transgression’
Last week, Malema said the league was sending a team to Botswana to consolidate local opposition parties, as it believed the government there was “in full cooperation with imperialists” and undermining the “African agenda”.

A day later the ANC rejected and publicly rebuked the league on “its extremely thoughtless and embarrassing pronouncements on ‘regime change’ in Botswana…”.

This was a total deviation from and an affront to ANC policy, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

The league expressed disappointment at being publicly rebuked before the matter had been internally discussed.
It did not believe its position on Botswana was contrary to ANC policy, it said.

Mantashe said that in publicly taking on the ANC, the youth league had committed a “serious transgression”.—Sapa

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