ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Pule Mabe says he holds no hard feelings after the ANC’s eleventh-hour decision this week to reduce the youth league’s elective conference to a consultative forum.
Mabe, the former youth league treasurer general, was tipped to take over the league’s hot seat, left by Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ANC for ill discipline. The ANC officials’ decision to convert the elective conference came after the party’s NEC meeting on Saturday gave it the go-ahead.
“I am a leader of the ANC. How can I be disappointed with my own [party’s] decision,” said Mabe in an interview on Thursday. He said the ANC’s decision was made after it took into consideration a number of factors, including policy and the issue of unity within the organisation.
“There is nothing bigger than the unity of our structures. It must become a way of life for all structures to work together.
“The youth league will have to overcome previous challenges. We must be jealous about the vibrancy of the youth league. Leaders rise on collective wisdom. Some of the best decisions were made in difficult moments.
“We [as ANC leaders] must work hard to help the youth league to have their own elective conference going forward,” said Mabe.
The Mail & Guardian understands Mabe was summoned to Luthuli House on Monday, where he was told by the ANC’s top six officials not to accept nomination for the ANCYL president – as advised by the integrity commission.
In its letter, signed by ANC veteran Andrew Mlangeni, the commission recommends that Mabe should step aside from the leadership contest because of his pending court case for allegations related to defrauding the South African Social Security Agency [Sassa].
But Mabe’s supporters have questioned the timing of the commission’s letter, given to Mabe even before he was nominated by delegates at the conference. Official nominations for candidates were expected to take place only on Tuesday.
While in its letter, dated November 11, the commission said it was worried about the negative impact Mabe’s election as ANCYL president would have on the ANC, it makes no mention of his positions as an ANC NEC member and MP.
Mabe’s supporters have accused some of the top six ANC officials of using the commission as a tool to fight factional battles ahead of the party’s elective conference in 2017.
Zuma: the ANC is in trouble
On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma was at pains trying to explain the decision to convert the elective conference to a consultative conference. He said ANC leaders were told on the eve of the conference that some delegates were planning to disrupt the conference.
“The decision is correct. You might feel it is not correct, but if that’s the case, then you are not putting the organisation first,” said Zuma. Zuma – who was given a warm welcome compared to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (who was booed) – called on the young lions to defend the ANC.
“There are many people who will want the ANC to disappear. The ANC has been shaken. We admit the organisation is in trouble. But if everything goes wrong with the ANC, everything will go wrong in the country,” said Zuma, before he was called to order by his fellow top six leaders for revealing sensitive details on NEC discussions.
While the ANC spent R18-million for the youth league conference, according to the treasurer’s report, some delegates complained about not being given food. According to the treasurer’s report, the ANC budgeted R3.6-million for catering.
The biggest expense to the ANC for the conference was accommodation, with a cost of R6-million for the 2 500 delegates. The cost of transporting delegates from different provinces to the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus was R3.5 million. Just over R2-million was spent on bags, T-shirts and caps.
But despite the large cost, there were still spelling errors on the T-shirts, with one of the messages stating that youth league members were required to be militant and “redical”.
Before budgeting for the consultative forum, the ANC had to first settle R8.2-million of the league’s debt. “Notably, a significant amount of the funds were spent on settling ANCYL legal cases, most of which were liquidation cases,” the treasurer’s report reads.
As the ANC could not afford to pay all the league’s debts at once, an agreement was entered into with Gallagher Estates to pay off an outstanding debt of R4.8-million, for the last conference, in monthly installments over a 12-month period. – Mail & Guardian