Chaos marks youth league election time

Jockeying: ANC Youth League supporters at a rally in Soweto. Infighting has ­begun over league leadership positions. (Madelene Cronjé)

Jockeying: ANC Youth League supporters at a rally in Soweto. Infighting has ­begun over league leadership positions. (Madelene Cronjé)

As has become the norm, the build-up to the ANC Youth League national conference next month has been marked by chaotic scenes in parts of the country.

Last weekend, North West MEC for Local Government Collen Maine was allegedly beaten up by delegates attending the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality regional conference.

In the Sekhukhune region of Limpopo, delegates allegedly refused to continue with a conference that was convened under suspect conditions. Some delegates were labelled as “nonvoting” even though they claimed to be representatives of their branches.

A week before the Northern Cape provincial conference, the house of a co-ordinator of the Frances Baard region was set on fire, although it was extinguished before much damage was done. Some youth league members have accused their national co-ordinator, Magasela Mzobe, of manipulating audits to ensure that his supporters will constitute a majority at the conference.

According to league sources, several regions from five provinces have complained that a number of branch meetings didn’t have quorums and, in others, the delegates were not members of the branches.

Mzobe, ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Pule Mabe, and a former acting president, Ronald Lamola, are standing for the position of league president.

A senior league source said Mabe was a strong candidate, despite being charged with corruption.

Mabe was arrested in November last year in connection with illegally soliciting funds from the South African Social Security Agency.

Standing for the top position
In an interview this week, Mabe said the charges did not prevent him from standing for the top position if the branches nominated him.

“We are a constitutional demo-cracy; the Constitution of our country upholds the innocence of individuals until proven guilty,” Mabe said.

“That’s why I’m a member of Parliament.

“I have not refused to appear before a court of law because I believe accusations can be levelled against any individual. What is important [is] for those individuals is to make themselves available and provide clarity where accusations are being levelled.”

He said the charges related to his work when he was league treasurer.

“I would never have gone out to mobilise if I wasn’t a treasurer general of the youth league. All matters related to the case are sub judice. We will clarify ourselves at the right time and on the right platform,” he said.

Mabe’s slate proposes him as president and Mduduzi Manana, who is the deputy minister of higher education and a former NEC member of the league, as his deputy.

Sicelo Mdletshe from KwaZulu-Natal is proposed as secretary general and Kgopelo Phasha, the former spokesperson of the ANC’s Sekhukhune region in Limpopo, as treasurer general.

Mzobe’s slate proposes another national task team member of the league, Mawethu Rune, as secretary general. Mzobe and Rune both led the South African Student Congress.

The league has a history of chaotic conferences. In April 2008, the national conference in Mangaung ended in chaos – rival factions exchanged blows and threw bottles at each other. Members carried coffins bearing the names of other members and jeered at speakers with whom they disagreed.

Julius Malema was elected as league leader at Mangaung after a tightly contested leadership race. He narrowly defeated businessperson Saki Mofokeng.

Almost immediately after the results were announced, delegates complained to the ANC NEC that the election was marred by irregularities and should be declared invalid. But the NEC ruled that there were no irregularities, and the league’s mother body endorsed the new leadership under Malema. He has since left the ANC and formed the Economic Freedom Fighters.



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.
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