ANCYL's new focus is education, not 'woodwork'

ANCYL Mzwandile Masina (left) and Magasela Mzobe. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

ANCYL Mzwandile Masina (left) and Magasela Mzobe. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Why should people not conclude that your decision to disband provincial structures of the ANC Youth League across the country was about  removing those who are aligned to former league president Julius Malema?

Julius is expelled. There is no Julius in our structures. There is nobody in the league who is close to Julius.

What was the real reason you ­disbanded the league's provincial and regional structures?
After we visited all the provinces we realised that a lot of structures were weak.
There were people involved in activities who were not there before. Some leaders, like in the Northern Cape, have been there for more than three terms.

What do you mean when you say there were people who were involved in activities who were not there before?
We intercepted [some league leaders'] communication and discovered there was a plan to form a new party [linked to Julius Malema]. Part of the reason we disbanded Limpopo and North West is because we knew they were working with those who wanted to form a new party. That's why immediately after we announced our decisions there was an announcement of the new party. We are going to expel anyone who is linked to the new party. There was a deliberate plan in North West and Limpopo to use our structures to prepare for the formation of the party.

Is intercepting people's ­communication not the work of the intelligence services?
They [league leaders] were reckless. They have been sending emails to each other and in one of the emails they stated they were planning to meet on [June 19]. This is not an intelligence issue. Our government has been [damaged] by these rebels. We cannot allow that to happen.

Is the autonomy of the youth league still intact?
Yes. We design our own programme. The misunderstanding of the league's autonomy is what we are currently teaching our members. We are the youth league of the ANC. When there are policy issues that we don't agree with, we will advocate for our position with the ANC.

There is a perception that you are taking orders from Luthuli House. Is the task team in charge?
That's a lie. Yes, we are constituted by the ANC, but once we took over our constitution kicked in. We did not go to the ANC before we ­dissolved our structures. We are firmly in charge. Of course we are the youth of the ANC and we submit reports to the party from time to time.

What does the issue of 'economic freedom in our lifetime' mean to you? Are you still going to push for the nationalisation of mines and land expropriation without compensation?
The youth league does not have a policy like that. We make proposals to the ANC. Some see the light of day, others don't. Ours is to be the body of opinion by infusing new ideas. Those [leaders] who were there before us were obsessed with leadership [issues]. Our focus is going to be on education. We can't go anywhere with woodwork. There are issues of employment [creation] that need to be understood. It took ANC leaders long to achieve political freedom. Why do we think we can achieve economic freedom overnight?

It looks like you are trying to appeal to a different kind of youth, particularly those who are educated. Is that the case?
We want to appeal to the youth of South Africa who believe in ANC policies. This is not going to be a place where people run away from their responsibilities. We are not going to have people who run from school. Tenderpreneurs can't be allowed. Twenty to 50 years from now we must be judged because we contributed to the transformation of our people. Those who came to the league [to accumulate resources] must forget it. We don't want a group of thieves who run down [government] departments.

Are you not risking ­marginalising those in rural areas or being seen as only catering for the elite?
We represent those people [from rural areas]. They must go to school. Education is free. We are waging a revolution for young people to be

educated. When you join the league, education must be cool. We are no longer going to have people who throw stones. Otherwise, we [the ANC] will be ruled by old people forever. We need to create capable lea-ders. In the next 15 years, everything will be about education, not thieving.

Why did you come to the conclusion that the league is ­dysfunctional when two years ago there were more than 5000 delegates who unanimously voted the previous leadership in?
The youth league is not a conferencing organisation. Yes, there are people within the organisation, but the youth league is supposed to be the organisation of programmes. By dysfunctional, we are saying there are no programmes. Marching to the Union Buildings for economic freedom when you don't have programmes is not going to help.

What's your reaction to ­businessperson Willem Adendorff, who plans to liquidate the league?
They are playing politics. They must come to us to talk and leave the courts [out of it]. The [league] debt is more than the R15-million that has been reported in the media. I can't tell you how much we owe, but it's a lot of money. The league is in more financial trouble than people think. One wonders how we got here while previous leaders accumulated [so much]? We can't complain. We must find mechanisms to pay. There is no legal basis for liquidating the league. These people [Adendorff's event company Z2 Presentations] have closed our bank account. Our members belong to them. Every cent that is paid through membership fee goes to them. We don't understand this obsession now that [elections are imminent]. Maybe they were sent by the Madam [Helen Zille].



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML

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