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KZN ANC Youth League attempts to hold its conference get off to a damp, stuttering start

KZN ANC Youth League attempts to hold its conference get off to a damp, stuttering start
The Durban Exhibition Centre was empty on the evening of 10 December 2022. The KZN ANC Youth league’s provincial conference had not yet started as delegates were still registering. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

Provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele was adamant on Sunday afternoon that the KZN ANC Youth League conference would go ahead. But the signs were not hopeful.

Steady rain and clouds filled the skies of Durban on Sunday as confusion reigned as to whether the KZN ANC Youth League elective conference would take place.

Throughout the early morning and afternoon, leaders from contending factions held meetings to thrash out various contentious issues, chief among them credentials and disputes over delegates eligible to vote.

Some delegates, especially those from far-flung areas of KwaZulu-Natal, did not know where they would sleep as accommodation had not been arranged for them, while others feared that their booked accommodation would not be enough, especially if the conference were to drag on for an extra day or two. Others feared that they would not be able to report for work if the conference were to delay or drag on further.

kzn anc youth league

ANC KZN Youth League delegates outside the party’s headquarters in Durban on 10 December 2022. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The ANC Youth League has been in disarray since Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu were expelled from the ANC for five years in November 2011 for sowing divisions in the party after a fallout with former president Jacob Zuma. The ANC Youth League National Executive Committee (NEC) was disbanded and replaced by a task team.

Malema went on to form the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and took a considerable number of ANC Youth League supporters and members with him.

Collen Maine was elected as the president of the ANC Youth League between 2015 and 2019 after a controversial conference.

The ANC NEC dissolved the ANCYL NEC led by the then president Maine, which was accused of many failures and whose term of office had expired. The ANC Youth League task team was then formed, but this structure has been unable to convene conferences.

In KZN, a 43-member KZN ANCYL task team was formed. The task team has attempted to hold a conference, but logistics and deep divisions have prevented this from happening.

High court action

In this latest attempt, the conference was scheduled to start on Friday, 9 December, but these preparations were hampered when eThekwini ANC Youth League members took the party to the Johannesburg High Court, claiming that the task team’s decision to disband the regional structure was illegal and prejudicial to the region.

In their court papers, the eThekwini Youth League leadership stated that they wanted to prevent the sitting of the elective conference before their matter was resolved. The matter was thrown out of court, which said the applicant could not prove the urgency of the matter.

The Johannesburg High Court decision was announced late on Thursday evening, which resulted in further delays in registration, accreditation and other logistical preparation for the conference.

kzn anc youth league

The KZN ANC Youth League Zweli Mkhize (pictured above) faction wanted the conference in Durban to go ahead because they had the numbers to give Mkhize a final platform to announce his election manifesto ahead of the crucial 2022 Nasrec conference, where the former health minister is expected to take on the embattled Cyril Ramaphosa for the position of the ruling party president. (Photo: Supplied)

On Saturday, hundreds of delegates endured the sweltering heat while waiting for accreditation cards. As this was ongoing, members of the KZN ANCYL task team, delegates from the dominant Zweli Mkhize faction and those from the CR faction were involved in last-minute haggling over whether the conference should sit in the first place, given the problems.

Insiders say the Zweli Mkhize faction wanted the conference to go ahead at all costs because they had the numbers on their side to win the conference and to give Mkhize a final platform to declare and announce his election manifesto ahead of the crucial 2022 Nasrec conference, where the former health minister is expected to take on the embattled Cyril Ramaphosa for the position of the ruling party’s president. The conference, according to Mkhize’s backers, was supposed to give him a rousing endorsement ahead of the conference.

Provincial chairperson battle

Also at stake is the leadership of the ANCYL in KZN. Qiniso Mnguni, a pro-Mkhize leader, was expected to battle it out with Bhongo Nombekela for the position of provincial chairperson.

Social media was abuzz with speculation about who would emerge victorious between the two factions.

youth league registration

ANC KZN Youth League delegates outside the party’s headquarters registering for the provincial conference in Durban on 10 December 2022. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The opposing side was adamant that there was no rush to hold this conference, given the logistical and legal hurdles.

While this was happening, delegates were having drinks and food outside the ANC provincial headquarters where accreditations were being processed.

ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele, who is also KZN ANC  Youth League task team coordinator, was adamant on Sunday afternoon that the conference would go ahead, credentials would be adopted, Mkhize would speak and the conference would be successful.

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“The conference will start very soon and it will be finished by midnight. The main sticking points have been registration and credentials and we have had to make corrections to the credentials.

“[As the task team,] we are ready to hand over the organisation of young people [to a newly elected leadership] so that they are the ones who determine their destinies and take forward the struggle of economic freedom,’’ Mndebele said.  

As Daily Maverick was speaking to Mndebele, the conference plenary was almost empty, with a few comrades trying to warm themselves by singing Struggle songs.

Vendors’ merchandise outside the party’s headquarters on 10 December 2022. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

Outside the conference, the mood was sombre. Even usually upbeat vendors who sell ANC regalia and other paraphernalia outside ANC event venues were grim-faced. One of them, a 35-year-old man from Gauteng who asked to remain anonymous, said he had been to many ANC events but he had never seen one with so little enthusiasm.

“We are supposed to sell to delegates but there are very few who are coming to the venue to buy. We won’t even make enough money for accommodation and transport,’’ he said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Alley Cat says:

    Cry me a river. Various expressions come to mind, but “couldn’t organise a Ps up in a brewery” is probably most app. Seems these future leaders are ideal for the ANC, they have all the skills of their seniors.
    If they can’t even organise a conference, how on earth could they ever run a country? IDEAL ANC LEADERSHIP MATERIAL!!

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