Well, it was bound to happen. Different factions within the ANC Youth League have taken their fight into the public eye, officially shattering the illusion of unity. Has Julius Malema finally lost his grip? It would appear so. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
There have been whispers of divisions and factions within the ANC Youth League for a while now. But now it’s in the public eye: the top leadership do not agree on what stance their organisation should take as the mothership moves to curb its strength and influence.
On Sunday, a column by ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu appeared in the Sunday Times. In it he cast aspersions on the chairman of the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of appeals, Cyril Ramaphosa.
The ANC responded through its spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, condemning Shivambu and calling his character and integrity into question.
Unsurprisingly, the ANCYL responded immediately to that, via its other spokesperson, Magdalene Moonsamy. “The ANC once again missed an opportunity to educate and mould a comrade if he indeed was wrong, and chose to throw insults and attack him as an individual,” she wrote. “As a young cadre of the ANC, what is he going to benefit from insults by adults in the ANC? We believe that such an attack on a fellow Comrade is in its very nature degenerating the values prescribed by the movement,” she wrote.
Then, late at night, the most unexpected press statement to come out of Luthuli House in recent months arrived. It carried the name of the deputy president, Ronald Lamola, and it claimed that Moonsamy’s response did not carry the blessing of the entire ANCYL because Shivambu had written his column in his personal capacity and not as a spokesman of the league.
“We therefore put it categorically that we distance ourselves from the statement that responded to the ANC as it does not represent the official position of the ANCYL but the views of the individual who published it,” Lamola said. We agree with the ANC that the attack on Ramaphosa’s personal integrity and standing in society was unwarranted (and) did nothing to advance a comradely political debate.”
The Lamola statement could be motivated by his cold war against ANCYL treasurer-general Pule Mabe, who has been accused by people in the KwaZulu-Natal region of campaigning to replace Malema. As deputy president, Lamola would expect to take the position should Malema finally bow to his suspensions and expulsion from the ANC.
Interestingly, a previous report by the Mail & Guardian said that Lamola actually wanted Malema to stay in his position. “Those who want Malema out include the league’s treasurer Pule Mabe, and national executive committee members Stanley Galane and Lebogang Maile. On the other hand, those who want Malema to remain in his position include his deputy Ronald Lamola, the league’s secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, its spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, and national executive committee members Thabo Kupa, Andile Lungisa and Jacob Lebogo,” the M&G said.
According to political analyst Eusebius McKaiser, an associate at the Wits Centre for Ethics, Lamola’s statement was not a sincere attempt to defend Ramaphosa, but rather a break away from the engineered consensus among the upper echelons of the ANCYL.
“People like Ronald [Lamola] and Pule [Mabe] have been strategising for months now. Last night’s statement wasn’t about Ramaphosa or genuine respect for the ANC, but rather about positioning [Lamola] as the leader of the ANC Youth League in the post-Malema era,” McKaiser said.
According to McKaiser, the only real ally that Malema has left among the people who matter is secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa. “The problem is that Sindiso doesn’t have gravitas and he’s been in the national stage for a short time only.”
He believes the ANC will not leave it at casting Malema out into the wilderness. They will also conduct a widespread purge of all “troublesome” elements in the organisation, including those who tried to tamper with the constitution of the ANCYL to save Malema and the other leaders who were charged.
The ANCYL constitution came under the spotlight in November last year when it emerged that someone – presumed to be connected to Malema, if not the man himself – may have tampered with a clause in the league’s constitution to protect members who get suspended or thrown out by the ANC. The ANC promised to investigate the incident, since no such amendment had reportedly been discussed or made at the league’s congress in June last year, the only place where the constitution can be changed.
If the ANC is to be thorough in its purge of Malema, it would lean on the prosecuting authorities to follow up an expulsion with a fraud and tax evasion investigation, which has been bubbling under the surface for months now, possibly awaiting its queue after the ANCYL leader was politically defeated.
Meanwhile, in the least surprising move of the year, the ANC’s committee of appeals announced on Tuesday that it had rejected an application by Malema to have his summary expulsion (handed down on 4 April 2012 by the national disciplinary committee) set aside for apparently breaching the ANC constitution and the laws of natural justice. The committee said in its ruling that its right to summarily suspend a member for up to 30 days pending a hearing was vested in it by the ANC’s constitution. The committee also reminded Malema that he was a voluntary member of the party, and had agreed to abide by its rules.
The outcomes of the expulsion hearing are expected by the end of the week.
How the ANCYL (or Malema’s people) will proceed from here will be very interesting to watch. No one is going to believe the press conferences where all the top youth league people are made to smile for the cameras anymore. And Mabe has been campaigning for months now, if the complaints coming out of KwaZulu-Natal are to be believed.
After the elective conference last year, we wrote about Malema’s complete and iron-fisted control of the ANCYL. That’s gone now. What will replace it is hard to tell.
For now, it seems like Mabe is out in front, with Lamola also firing his engines. “If it isn’t one of these two guys, it will be a dark horse coming from nowhere, like Andile (Lungisa) trying his chances again,” McKaiser said. DM
Stephen Hawking held a party for time travellers. He sent the invitation out the day after. Nobody attended.