The ANC Youth League must not be condemned for demanding an equitable share in the wealth of the country, the provincial chairperson for the ANC in Limpopo, Cassel Mathale, said on Saturday.
“Throughout it’s nearly 100 years of existence, the movement has always been guided by the objective of liberating … black people from political and economic bondage”, Mathale told delegates at the province’s seventh elective conference.
“The economy of this country is still dominant in the hands of the white minority.”
Suspended league president Julius Malema has been spearheading the call for nationalisation of the mines and land grabs.
This received a lot of criticism from the opposition parties and civil society movements representing farmers.
‘Young lions taking initiative’
The government has consistently indicated that nationalisation was not government policy and that the matter was being investigated.
Mathale said after intense discussions in the last provincial general council they agreed with the youth league’s stance on the issue.
“We have always believed that the mineral wealth beneath our soil is the national heritage of our people. (They) must enjoy direct benefit of all mining proceeds.”
Mathale said the ‘young lions’ were taking initiative as part of their work by reminding the movement of its historic obligations and resolutions.
“The youth league must not be condemned or called names for speaking the language of the ANC,” he said.
Motlanthe speaks against ‘demon’
In his earlier address, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe warned ANC members against voting according to slates.
“The emergence of slates within our organisational culture and the processes represent the worst form of corruption of the spirit, character and vision of the organisation”, Motlanthe told delegates at conference.
“The time has come for all of us in the ANC to condemn the slate culture to the dustbin of history.”
Motlanthe said members must stand up and speak against “this demon” that seems to destabilise, demoralise and emasculate the ANC of all its historical achievements.
“Stealing away the voice of members through slates, buying of votes and treating the ordinary membership as voting fodder … serves no other purpose than to corrupt the organisation.”
Motlanthe said the issue of slates was one of the issues that threaten to weaken the ANC in the next 100 years.
The practice of slates represent a deformed character of the organisation, he said.
Delegates were expected to elect their leaders towards the end of the day.
Mathale, said to be a close ally of suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, is expected to face a challenge from Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Phaahla.
Setting the tone
The conference will set the tone for the ANC’s succession battle in Mangaung in 2012.
National treasury’s decision to place Limpopo under administration is expected to be the political hot potato as the talks settle in.
Phaahla was reportedly aligned to a group of Limpopo politicians who support President Jacob Zuma ‘s re-election next year.
Former ANC PEC member Joe Mathebula was reportedly a candidate for the position of deputy chairperson.
Malema had been suspected of being nominated for a position in the PEC, despite being suspended for ill-discipline.
He arrived at the venue on Saturday with a group of youth league supporters who were singing in support of Mathale.
The same group chanted songs criticising Zuma saying: “Shower yare sokodisa” (the shower is giving us problems).
Zuma has been portrayed in political cartoons with a shower top above his head, relating to comments he made during his 2006 rape trial. He said having a shower after sex reduced the chance of contracting HIV.
They also sang similar songs about Malusi Gigaba.
Reports suggested that if Mathale were to win, it would boost the youth league’s campaign to replace ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe with Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, and ANC president Zuma with Motlanthe.
A group loyal to songs and slogans in support of Mathale was heard while close by, his detractors were also chanting in support of their preferred candidate — Phaahla.
Earlier in the week, officials said they expected about 1 400 delegates, including guests and ANC alliance partners.
Zuma was expected to address the delegates but the ANC had replaced him with Motlanthe. This was reportedly to save him embarrassment after it was learnt that delegates loyal to Mathale were unhappy with him and had planned to boo him, especially after his decision to put five of Limpopo’s department’s under administration.
Some delegates talking amongst each other said the actual conference ended on Friday and that Saturday’s event was only a formality.
Setting the stage
Mathale’s supporters are planning to push for the adoption of a resolution on nationalisation, taken by the recent provincial general council. And they intend to take a resolution that will question the Cabinet’s powers to place provinces under administration without consulting the ANC.
“We must get the ANC national executive committee [NEC] to come and tell us what happened. The reason why we fought with former president Thabo Mbeki was because he shifted power from Luthuli House to Mahlamba Ndlopfu [the state house],” said the ANC provincial leader, who complained that the party was not consulted when the Cabinet decided to put five key departments in Limpopo under administration.
“Polokwane was very clear on these matters. You can have the prerogative as the president but, in exercising your prerogative, you must know that there is the ANC as a centre of power. All ANC deployees, including the president and his Cabinet, must exercise their power in conjunction with the ANC.”
In spite of nomination numbers indicating that Mathale is preferred by the majority of branches in Limpopo to serve as chairperson for a second term, his opponents are adamant that they will defeat him.
They point to anti-corruption marches by trade union federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party in the past few months and the Cabinet’s decision to put provincial departments under administration as indications that Mathale’s reign in the province is over.
“Things are looking good for us,” said former ANC Youth League provincial chairperson Lehlogonolo Masoga, who is prominent in the anti-Mathale faction. “We are increasing the numbers even after nominations closed. People should understand change is inevitable.”
Limpopo ANC spokesperson David Masondo said there would be tight security at the conference, as a number of ministers, premiers and mayors were expected to attend. — Staff reporter, Sapa