Eastern Cape ANC provincial secretary candidate Teris Ntutu has added his voice to the demand for a generational mix in the ruling party’s top six officials, proposing a 50/50 balance between older and younger members.
Currently, the youngest person in the top six is treasurer general Paul Mashatile, who is 60 years old.
Ntutu joins the call from deputy president hopeful Ronald Lamola, who first hinted to the Mail & Guardian during the ANC’s January 8th anniversary celebrations that he was in the running for the second in command in the party.
In an interview on Friday as delegates from his Amathole region lined up to register for the Eastern Cape conference, Ntutu expressed his views on what he would like to see in the ANC’s top six when the party goes to its national elections conference in December.
“I’m for the general mix. I think as we go to the national conference we need to mix. Starting from the top six. Let’s have a systematic way of infusing the young generation into the top six,” he said.
“I believe that we need a 50/50 kind of arrangement between the older generation and the younger generation — identify a few younger leaders.”
Young people have been pushing their way to the fore in leadership contests across regional and provincial conferences.
In Mpumalanga, it was the younger party leaders who had recently graduated from the ANC Youth League that propelled Mandla Ndlovu to the position of provincial chair in the March conference. Ndlovu’s election also meant cutting historical ties with once-powerful ANC deputy president David Mabuza.
Regions across Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal have also seen young people advancing and taking control as leaders. Other young leaders have expressed a desire to see themselves at higher levels of the party to drive the ANC’s future direction.
Ntutu’s own slate in the Eastern Cape, led by Babalo Madikizela, is from the era of youth leaders who were disbanded in 2012. The young lions are now seeking to promote themselves, as opposed to working to further the ambitions of senior leaders.
Ntutu told the M&G that credentials should pass on the first day of the conference, provided leaders were able to manage rising tensions from the branches.
The last Eastern Cape conference devolved into chaos during the credentials process and was later dubbed the festival of chairs after the warring factions of current provincial chair Oscar Mabuyane and his predecessor, Phumulo Masualle, threw chairs at people, injuring many.
“Credentials are very important because even post-conference if someone is challenging the process and its outcome. You must be able to respond and have a clear way of responding. Remember, we are in a period where people litigate at any point. If you don’t scrutinise credentials, make sure that processes are actually credible; there are no loopholes,” Ntutu said.
“So we need to spend time on credentials, unfortunately, scrutinise everything, correct everything, even if it’s five hours or 10 hours, because once you accept credentials in a rush kind of a situation, you go and win and someone else challenges the same conference and in court, you are able to say no, we discussed this matter, this matter was addressed, it was responded to, we spent 10 hours discussing the same matter, why would you then litigate beyond this particular point?”
Amid claims by Mabuyane that the Madikizela camp will try to use credentials to collapse the conference, Ntutu said he saw “the conference proceeding beyond credentials”.
“I do believe it will proceed — but that is dependent on leaders — if we are able to manage chaos. As I said before, that convening of branch general meetings at this point is a bit problematic for me and anything else. I don’t know what’s going to happen. So if, as leaders, we are able to manage issues properly then you will see a very smooth conference.”