The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) will be a vital part of the governing party’s election campaign as it heads closer to the 2019 general elections, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
Ramaphosa was addressing a large crowd of ANCYL members at a rally in Cato Crest, Durban, on Wednesday.
Prior to his arrival, a DJ had blared music over loudspeakers in a tent that was packed with young people who had been waiting for the president’s arrival since 10am.
Ramaphosa arrived in the afternoon, along with ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize and ANCYL president Collen Maine.
Maine was largely ignored by the crowd as he paid tribute to former youth league president Peter Mokaba. Wednesday marked Mokaba’s 60th birthday. He died in 2002.
But as Maine read from his prepared speech, the crowd spoke over him. Frustrated, he asked the crowd to be quiet on two occasions, but the chatter continued.
“Comrades, you are making noise. You know the media will say I was booed here,” Maine said.
Ramaphosa, however, was received with more warmth. He told the gathered youth that they would play an important role in mobilising support for the ANC during its election campaign. He noted that the party is concerned by the low number of young people who are registered to vote.
“The ANCYL must be at the leading edge of the election campaign,” he said. “We rely on the youth league to mobilise our people.”
Ramaphosa went on to promise that the youth league’s demand for experience to be scrapped as a requirement for jobs would be implemented in government employment sectors. He said that an appeal would also be made to private companies to give young people experience, instead of demanding that experience should be a prerequisite.
The ANC is preparing for its election manifesto launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday. Senior officials in the party, including secretary general Ace Magashule and ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala, have warned party members to be respectful and quiet during Ramaphosa’s address on Saturday. The warnings come amid speculation of factionalism in the province that previously backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the party’s elective conference in 2017.
Ramaphosa has said the party is focused on building unity and organisational renewal.