ANC top brass to discuss youth league's future

Gwede Mantashe told the media that the disbandment of the youth league was not entertained during the NEC meeting in Durban. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Gwede Mantashe told the media that the disbandment of the youth league was not entertained during the NEC meeting in Durban. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told the media on Tuesday that following its first meeting in Durban, last week, the party's newly elected national executive committee has directed the top six to meet with the leadership of the ANC Youth League.

The Monday meeting will deal with the combustible relationship between the ANC and its league.

The last serious manifestation of renewed tensions between the ANC and its league took place after the expulsion of its president, Julius Malema.

Malema was expelled from the party after he was found guilty by the ANC's national disciplinary committee of bringing the party into disrepute.

Elusive stability
ANC insiders and political commentators alike believe that until the two sides reach a mutually acceptable deal that covers all aspects, including the adherence to the ANC Youth League constitution and the general functioning of the league, the stability craved by all will remain elusive – at least for now.

Mpumalanga tabled a motion to disband the youth league during the ANC conference in December last year but this was rejected, and the conference mandated the newly-appointed ANC NEC to address the challenges facing the youth league.

Addressing journalists at the post-NEC briefing, Mantashe said that the disbandment of the youth league was not entertained at all during the NEC meeting in Durban.

"We are not discussing disbandment. We are talking about the constitutional role of the youth league here and how it relates to the ANC. The objective is not disbanding.
The ANC Youth League has a role to play [in the ANC] and it must play that role," said Mantashe.

During a recent interview with the SABC, President Jacob Zuma was at pains to comment about the possible disbandment of the youth league.

"I can't describe the details of what's going to be done. Certainly you know they don't have a president, they've got an acting president. They don't have a secretary general, the deputy is acting. You can't say that's normal. The leadership that is coming in must address those issues. How they're going to emerge in terms of the outcome I think it's going to depend on the interactions … but certainly they must have a president, they must have a secretary," Zuma said.

"We are all guided by the ANC. I'm hoping that the period leading up to now the current youth league membership and those who are in the NEC must have realised the kind of difficulties they've put this organisation that is so important to nurture the young people of this country politically but also to give the mother body an opportunity to mould them into future leaders of the ANC," he said.

Mangaung hangover
Since the expulsion of Malema, the league's leaders have toned down their rhetoric against the ANC leadership, and this was partly the reason why there has been no sense of urgency in taking action against them.

At the weekend, deputy president of the youth league Ronald Lamola told thousands of ANC supporters who attended the party's annual January 8 statement celebrations in Durban, that the youth league had accepted the outcome of Mangaung.

He said the youth league would support Zuma and all the newly-elected NEC members.

Prior to Mangaung, the youth league was at the forefront of the campaign to replace Zuma with the former ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe as president.

"We are not suffering from the Mangaung hangover. We accepted the outcome of the conference and we will support Zuma and the new NEC," said Lamola.

The youth league is planning to hold a national general council in the next few months in order to elect the new president and treasurer general.

Suspended youth league secretary general Sindiso Magaqa is expected to return to his position sometime in May, but the Mail & Guardian understands there are some in the ANC who want to get rid of him because of his close relation with Malema.

Lamola is expected to contest for the position of president with the league's head of international relations, Abner Mosase.

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012). Read more from Charles Molele

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