As Mantashe warns of implosions, Youth League plans revolt in October

By Carien Du Plessis 22 September 2011

From the same young people who grandly claim to have influenced the revolts that overturned the Egyptian government and others, come plans of mass action on financial institutions as well as the country’s Presidency. CARIEN DU PLESSIS reports on the ANC Youth League’s plans for 27 and 28 October.

The ANC Youth League must have known that ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe expressed concerns about their “confrontational and aggressive posture against the ANC” during the ruling party’s national executive committee meeting last Friday and Saturday.

On Sunday the League’s own national working committee, which met for the first time since the hearings against its leader Julius Malema began, decided they would have this big march on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 October (now did you seriously think the youth would sacrifice their weekend? Plus weekdays will cause maximum disruption to those with unhealthy employed tendencies).

This will be well after the end of the hearings of Malema and fellow leaders (scheduled for 6 to 8 October) and by then, the League is sure to know whether they still have leaders to lead the protest march or not.

Either way, they’ll almost certainly be angry – either about the expulsion of their leaders, or the trials and tribulations they’ve had to endure for seemingly no apparent reason.

Whether the ANC’s leaders are scared, we’ll not know right now, as neither of the spokesmen Jackson Mthembu or Keith Khoza answered their phones on Wednesday afternoon.

The action will start with “mass action and protests” at the Chamber of Mines in Marshalltown, in the Johannesburg CBD, to demand “Nationalisation of Mines and equal share in the country’s mineral resources” (sic).

After that, the League “will lead mass action to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton to demand equal share in the country’s wealth, faster transformation of the economy and most importantly, jobs for the unemployed youth”. It’s unclear whether the youngsters would walk the 10-odd km to Sandton, or drive there, and whether they would raid any fridges for cheese first.

After that, we’ll move to the Union Buildings for a night vigil (which might or might not be sponsored by Heineken, as this was the drink of choice for some party youngsters during their overnight rally for Malema before his hearing started), “which will culminate in the handing over of a memorandum to the Executive (that is President Jacob Zuma, whose face was on some of the T-shirts that went up in flames after the Luthuli House night vigil) demanding free education, immediate abolishment of labour brokers, jobs for youth, better housing and sanitation for informal settlement dwellers and access to water”.

In their statement the League said “it is high time that we mobilise all South Africa’s youth and progressive forces to demand jobs and equal share of South Africa’s wealth” as well as the less glamorous basics, like “free quality education, proper houses and sanitation, electricity and water”.

Between now and then, the League’s people will spend the time they’re not in ANC hearings to meet “fraternal organisations” to persuade them to join this mass action. These will include unemployed youth, underprivileged students, “under-employed youth” (no, we’re not talking politicians, but waiters, petrol attendants, farm workers, receptionists), squatter camp dwellers, communities affected by service delivery protests, landless people and people without water and electricity.

All in all, this could be a very explosive mix and the action would be concentrated in Johannesburg (none in provinces), and presumably after that in Pretoria; the Union Buildings would be a bit like on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, we imagine.

In February the League’s then-deputy president Andile Lungisa (he is now a mere member of the organisation’s national executive committee) said the National Youth Development Agency’s (of which he is chairman and which employs an awful lot of Youth League people) youth festival in December “helped to free Egypt” and played a role in the Tunisian revolts and the separation of South Sudan.

He said many of the delegates which attended the youth festival were “at the forefront of the Egyptian revolt”.

“I’m not saying we started the protests, but before the festival there were no protests in Egypt,” he said at the time.

Mantashe, in his organisational report presented to the ANC’s national executive committee over the weekend, warned of an imminent implosion in the ANC and said internal divisions were greater now than before the party’s 2007 Polokwane conference (and at the time we all thought that the removal of former ANC president Thabo Mbeki was all the party needed to heal).

“Kingmakers and bookmakers can only survive when the NEC is divided. Politics of blackmail get stronger when factions are growing stronger than the organisational structures,” he said. (Of course this includes Malema and his buddies, who have been demanding that sports minister Fikile Mbalula replace Mantashe).

Mantashe also warned about the ANC Youth League’s “confrontational and aggressive posture against the ANC”.

“(This posture) can only systematically dent the image of the ANC in the eyes of the society.”

He said the League’s personal attacks showed “narrow short-sightedness”.

Recently, the League has also called for a “generational mix” in the ANC, but this has a down side. Mantashe, no longer a spring chicken himself, warned against ageism. “The membership is visibly growing younger and is perceived to be intolerant of the older members,” he warned. DM

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