/ 20 April 2018

Young lions could hold early polls

Spat: The ANC Youth League’s Thembi Siweya backs calls for an elective conference.
Spat: The ANC Youth League’s Thembi Siweya backs calls for an elective conference.

Outspoken ANC Youth League leader Thembi Siweya feels vindicated by league president Collen Maine’s confession about his association with the Gupta family. It was proof, she said, that the young lions had been taking their mandate from external forces.

Siweya, a member of the league’s national executive committee (NEC)and the former national youth co-ordinator for Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign, this week called for an early elective conference as a solution to conflicts in the youth wing.

Last week, tensions rose between Maine and deputy secretary general Thandi Moraka, who accused the league president of being a sellout and called for his resignation.

This was after Maine said at a memorial service in North West for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that he had been introduced to the Guptas by the province’s premier, Supra Mahumapelo. Maine has allegedly apologised to Ramaphosa for backing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the ANC’s national elective conference in December at Nasrec, Johannesburg.

Siweya said: “If you find a president of the youth league speaking like that, and you find the DSG [deputy secretary general] raising her voice to reprimand him, it’s an affirmation that the long-held view to say ‘all is not well, the youth league is reporting somewhere else’ is being confirmed.

“And because it was reporting somewhere it was not able to do what is expected of it, because it was pushing other agendas. And that’s where we are today.”

Before the Nasrec conference, Siweya questioned where Maine had derived the mandate from to pronounce support for Dlamini-Zuma before a decision had been made by league structures. She then broke ranks with the league to lobby for Ramaphosa. She said the confessions being made now vindicated her stance about the presidential race.

“It did not make rational sense to me. How do we arrive at that state to say we cannot support the deputy president of the ANC who was Cyril Ramaphosa then? I felt the process of us reaching the resolution [to support Dlamini-Zuma] was not convincing. And I suppose history has shown itself in the end,” she said.

The public spats in the youth wing were indicative of a need for an intervention by the mother body and an early conference to put an end to the conflict, Siweya said. “If you see those public spats, the question becomes: Are we in a state to run a credible and fair conference? From where I’m standing I don’t think so.

“We just need the national executive committee [NEC] of the ANC to come and calm things down,” she said. “We need to go to conference because tempers are high.”

Siweya wants the mother body to take over the administration of the youth conference, or let it hold its conference, but strip it of those powers if processes were not fair and credible.

The names of preferred leadership candidates are already being discussed in the youth league.

The Mail & Guardian understands that youth league treasurer general Reggie Nkabinde and KwaZulu-Natal youth chairperson Thanduxolo Sabelo are two of the leading candidates for the position of president.

Sabelo is the preferred pick of Maine and others in the so-called Zuma camp. But Ramaphosa backers are sceptical about this choice.

“It’s clear that [with] Thanduxolo, his comrades want to use him as a launching pad for their own things,” said a youth league CR17 lobbyist.

A youth league leader said Nkabinde was likely to get Gauteng’s support and was emerging as a favourite in some Eastern Cape regions. “Reggie is a strong candidate. The OR Tambo region in the Eastern Cape … has pronounced him as a presidential candidate.”

Ndumiso Mokako, a youth league NEC member from Mpumalanga, is also being touted as a presidential hopeful and is said to be the preferred choice of Ramaphosa.

But the CR17 lobbyist said the ANC president was not involved in the youth league’s leadership matters and didn’t have any preferences.

Other leaders from the mother body have reportedly begun to make their preferences known.

Deputy president David Mabuza is understood to want Pholoso Mbatsane, the youth wing’s secretary in Mpumalanga, to become secretary general, and secretary general Ace Magashule is believed to have his hopes pinned on the youth league’s Free State secretary, Reagan Booysen.