After its leadership was disbanded by the ANC’s National Executive Committee on 17 March 2013 and replaced with a 22-man National Task Team (NTT) mandated with reviving its structures, the ANC Youth League seems to be recuperating well having faced both political and financial liquidation just last year. The National Convenor of the NTT, Mzwandile Masina, confirmed at a recent press briefing that the organisation is ready to appoint a new national leadership at the organisation’s twenty-fifth national conference to be held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand later this month.
In 2013, the ANCYL had planned to bring in a younger leadership and rid the league of the “old guard”, said NTT spokesperson Bandile Masuku recently. “Some of us need to give way for younger generations. The older generation like us somehow hamper innovation and dynamism. They hamper progress in a way that we tend to be very conservative,” explained Masuku. Despite Masuku’s comments, it seems unlikely that we will see fresh and younger faces, considering the candidates who seem most likely to run for the ANCYL’s presidency.
Nominations for the top positions have not been officially opened, but reported to be in contention for the presidency is the controversial former ANCYL treasurer Pule Mabe; former ANCYL deputy president Ronald Lamola, who revealed his eligibility at the Thobile Bam Memorial Lecture on 3 August 2014; and NTT National Coordinator, Magasela Mzobe who appears to be a strong contender according to sources within the ANCYL.
So, who exactly are these three contenders? Let’s get to know them a bit.
Mabe studied Journalism at the Tshwane University of Technology and started his career as a journalist for the Mail & Guardian. Mabe, who is a Member of Parliament for the ANC is also the owner of advertising firm, KG Media. Most prominently, perhaps, is that he was the ANC Youth League treasurer during Julius Malema’s term as president of the organisation.
He was also suspended along with Malema in 2011, until he turned on Malema and decided to align himself with the Jacob Zuma faction within the ANC. Mabe would later be appointed to the ANC’s national executive council in December 2012.
Currently facing fraud charges, Mabe, however, remains eligible to stand for the presidency of the league, the NTT announced on 20 August. Mabe’s eligibility to stand for presidency is also despite the fact that he is 34 years-old this year.
Mabe was one of the people who were charged for barging into a meeting of top ANC officials at Luthuli House in August 2012. Although Mabe’s critics would have loved to see the charges against him ruin his chances of running for the presidency, Mzwandile Masina shrugged this off, saying that the charges against Mabe would not matter. “It’s simple, we are the Youth League of the ANC and we have said everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so we will stick to that,” he argued.
Apart from the fraud charges against him, some may say Mabe is not fit for the presidency because it was under his watch that the ANCYL ran into extensive debt, which formed part of the reasons which led to the liquidation cases against the ANCYL.
Apart from all these hindrances, it is very likely that Mabe might come out on top. According to a close source within the ANCYL, Mabe is likely to use his strong financial position to the benefit of his campaign.
Lamola is a former youth league deputy president under former president, Julius Malema. Growing up in Mpumalanga, Lamola is a lawyer by profession and now runs his own law firm. He joined the ANC Youth League at the tender age of 14 and was the district secretary of the Young Communist League’s Gert Sibande district in Mpumalanga between 2008 and 2009. He then joined the ANCYL’s Provincial Executive Committee.
In a letter addressed to the NTT and ANC Secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe in September 2013, Lamola accused the NTT of losing the plot in its mission to revive the organisation’s structures. The former deputy president of the ANCYL also accused the NTT of lacking political and ideological clarity.
Despite this, during a visit to deliver a lecture at the Thobile Bam Memorial Lecture at the Walter Sisulu University on August 3 2014, Lamola confirmed his availability to contest for the youth league’s presidency when it goes to conference next month. “Yes I am available. I was not expelled or suspended. Any member can stand if nominated by the branches,” Lamola said. Still, given the accusations he made against the NTT in 2013, it seems unlikely that Lamola will stand a chance against Mzobe and Mabe, who both have quite strong constituencies. Lamola smells a bit like a blast from the past.
Hailing from Newcastle in KwaZulu Natal, Mzobe is a former secretary general of the South African Students Congress (SASCO). He was appointed as the ANCYL National Coordinator after the ANCYL’s national structures were disbanded.
On 2 August 2014, evidence of his growing national support was displayed during a two day conference held in KwaZulu Natal when the ANCYL’s eThekwini region didn’t shy away from expressing their support for Mzobe. The ANCYL contingent there sang songs urging that Mzobe be elected president. “Sihamba naye u Magasela” (We are behind Magasela), the delegates vehemently sang.
Mzobe’s critics, on the other hand, have suggested that his role within the Task Team, which has involved overseeing the regional and provincial elections, will have an influence on who will vote, thus giving him an unfair advantage.
It is also worth noting that Mzobe is the only one among the contenders listed here who, if elected, would bring a fresh face to the ANCYL’s highest echelons. Mzobe has not been given the opportunity to lead in a conventional structural setting, which is a factor that might influence voters to try something new.
The job at hand
The ANC Youth League as it stands today is not an ideologically united organisation in the form of the one that was constantly under the media spotlight during Julius Malema’s tenure as president. The following important questions, thus, arise in the case of “Who Will Become The Next President of The ANCYL?”
Who can do battle with the ANC’s new parliamentary rival: the EFF? Who can bring the ANCYL greater relevance and media presence and how will they do so? What social issues and causes will the new ANCYL president align the party with and advocate for? Will the new ANCYL president keep the organisation close to the ANC or orbit the mothership?
#LiveVIPZA will bring you more on the ANCYL as the organisation’s 25th elective conference from September 24-27 2014 approaches.
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