The ANC Youth League’s provinces have already starting to name their presidential candidates ahead of this weekend’s national executive committee meeting and may be hard pressed to avoid a national conference marked by the same slate-based politics that nearly derailed the ANC’s December elective meeting.
While the nominations process has yet to open, the names of treasurer general Reggie Nkabinde, KwaZulu-Natal secretary Daluxolo Sabelo and NEC member Ndumiso Mokako, have already been put forward by provinces and regions keen to name their choice of candidates to succeed current leader Collen Maine.
Sabelo, a key figure in the unsuccessful campaign to elect Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as ANC president, is understood to be Maine’s preferred choice to take over the top position. Mokako is believed to be an ally of ANC deputy president David Mabuza, while Nkabinde’s bid to become Maine’s successor has been linked with the camp that backed Cyril Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency.
ANCYL national spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said the NEC meeting this weekend would be discussing preparations for conference and may set a date for it, but that no nomination process had opened as yet.
‘’Part of the NEC agenda is about preparing for national congress. Once a date is set, we will begin the process of branch general meetings, of setting the guidelines, criteria for representation and so on,’’ Mlkhize said.
Mkhize said those already naming candidates had ‘’moved before time … The NEC may not even set a conference date this weekend,’’ he said.
‘’The most dangerous thing about national conferences of the ANC, and the ANCYL, is when people start nominating before processes open. The date has not been announced but there are those who are indicating who they support,’’ he said.
Mkhize said that the naming of individual candidates did not equate to slate politics as it was merely a leadership choice and the name of a candidate who was “willing to engaged”.
He conceded, however, that once lobbying started in earnest, ‘’because of the nature of politics and lobbying we will get to a point where it is team versus team.’’
Mkhize said that the voting patterns of delegates at the national conference, who voted across slates, may impact on the ANCYL conference. ‘’We hope the comrades will draw lessons from the past experience from national conference where delegates seemed to be rejecting that,’’ he said.
Sabelo, who has served two terms as KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary and who has been nominated by all KwaZulu-Natal’s regions, told the Mail & Guardian that he could ‘’only speak about being a candidate after the NEC sets a conference date”.
‘’If there are elections there will be some form of preference that will be raised by members. We must be able to accept that,’’ Sabelo said.
Sabelo was disciplined by the ANC leadership ahead of December over his attacks on ANC veterans and the disruption of a Active Citizens Forum meetings addressed by ANC MP Pravin Gordhan. He said this did not amount to factionalism.
‘’What we need to avoid is institutionalised factions, where there are permanent factions based on ANC leadership positions. We also need to avoid leaders of the ANCYL who are going to be controlled by ANC leaders. We need to elect independent leaders who are able to take the leadership of the ANC on, who will work with them but will be able to stand up to them and tell them if they are heading in the wrong direction,’’ Sabelo said.