/ 17 June 2023

Frontrunner for ANCYL leadership post embraces Ukraine sanctions


Khulekani Skosana, a frontrunner for the post of ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary general, doesn’t believe he and his comrades erred when they took part in an observer mission to the Donbass Republic last September.

Skosana — the chairperson of the ANCYL international relations sub-committee and a member of the National Youth Task Team (NYTT) appointed to run the organisation until its conference on 30 June — and the rest of the observer mission to the Donbass independence referendum have since been sanctioned by the Ukrainian government.

The 31-year-old says the sanctions are “like medals” which he is happy to “wear proudly” and that he has no regrets over being part of the observer mission which sparked the request by the Democratic Alliance (DA) that Ukraine act against them.

A staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Skosana said that he was not intimidated by the sanctions.

“I am under Ukraine sanctions. That doesn’t scare me. Europe and the West have always had a problem with those who speak frankly about the challenges faced in the West,” he said in an interview with the Mail & Guardian this week.

Skosana said he saw the sanctions as a “souvenir”, adding that Nelson “Mandela used to be called a terrorist. It means I am on the correct path.”

Skosana  said the Donbass observer mission had allowed the members of ANCYL to see for themselves what was taking place on the ground.

“We did not want to hear from the elites in Russia or from the elites in Ukraine. We wanted to hear what the people in Donbass themselves were saying.

“The ANCYL position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict is that of peace. The best way to resolve the conflict is through dialogue. Sending weapons to Ukraine won’t help. Forcing Russia and Ukraine to sit down and the table is the only solution.”

South Africa had recently facilitated a peace process between the Ethiopian government and Tigray and was correct in attempting to do the same thing in the conflict between Russian and Ukraine, he added.

Skosana was appointed to the first NYTT by the national working committee to run the ruling party’s youth league two years ago and was among those appointed to a new task team after its term expired.

A former secretary general of the Congress of South African Students and Fees Must Fall activist, Skosana believes the organisational skills he gained in both roles and his experience on the NYTT will assist him in fulfilling the role of secretary general

Skosana views himself as a volunteer, saying that while he was making himself available to stand, he was happy to work within the organisation as a member.

“Whenever I have been asked by members of the ANCYL to help assist in addressing challenges, I have been available,” he said.

A small-scale pig farmer who employs four people, Skhosana said it was crucial that the education system was reorientated towards entrepreneurship and equipping young people with skills they could use to become job creators themselves.

The NYTT was appointed in March with new leadership to try to complete the process of holding the branch, regional and provincial congresses necessary for the conference to be held.

Skosana is convinced that they will be able to deliver a credible conference, having already overseen five provincial and 45 regional congresses, saying he is “highly confident” that it will proceed as planned.

The ANCYL was liquidated in 2018 over unpaid legal bills and its leadership disbanded by the ANC following year and replaced by a NYTT. 

The liquidation order was overturned by the courts in 2021. The ANCYL’s  bank accounts have been unfrozen and it is no longer banned from operating as a legal entity.

“We have been fighting this fight for many years. Our bank account has been unfrozen and we are able to run our affairs,” Skosana said.

Young South Africans were “validly angry” with the ANC but had stayed away from the polls, rather than voting for other parties, he added.

“We need to bring young people back into the ANC and to reignite their love for the ANC.”