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YOUNG LION

Joy Maimela’s fountain of youth crises issues may rain on Ramaphosa’s NEC parade

Joy Maimela’s fountain of youth crises issues may rain on Ramaphosa’s NEC parade
ANCYL convener Joy Maimela has been elected to the ANC NEC. (Photo: Facebook)

The newly elected ANC NEC member cautions President Cyril Ramaphosa against using the imminent cabinet reshuffle to deal with those who vigorously campaigned against his re-election at Nasrec. Maimela is one of three young lions (under 35) to be elected into the top leadership structure of the ANC for the first time. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to the party’s renewal project should be reflected in the choices he makes when he reshuffles the cabinet in the near future, says ANC Youth League National Task Team (NTT) coordinator Joy Maimela.    

As Ramaphosa applies his mind on the imminent reshuffle, Maimela says the President needs to deploy young people and those who’ll unite the country ahead of the “extremely difficult” general elections in 2024 the party will be faced with.    

Read more in Daily Maverick: “With ANC election done, here’s what’s next on Ramaphosa’s list: The crumbling state, Cabinet reshuffle, 2024 polls” 

Despite some senior party members vigorously campaigning against Ramaphosa’s re-election as party president, at the party’s 55th national conference, Maimela is of the view that Ramaphosa should not use the reshuffle to deal with his detractors or reward his supporters. 

“Our organisation is weakened, we are hoping that his choices in appointing ministers can reflect unity and renewal.  The reshuffle should not be viewed or perceived as a reshuffle that was meant to deal with people who were either supporting or not supporting him going to the national conference, so for us, we are hoping that he rises above everything and unites the nation on how he shares responsibilities of government.” 

Young blood

Maimela is one of two women under the age of 35 elected into the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the National Executive Committee (NEC) in between conferences — a first for the ruling party.   

Read more in Daily Maverick: “ANC’s NEC nomination list peppered with young(ish) contenders, controversial characters and RET leaders” 

“It’s a great privilege, its an honour, it’s not many of young people within the folds of the ANC who have been elevated by branches to this highest level and of course, we have been advocating for this as the ANC youth, it is also comforting to me that branches of the ANC are heeding to the call that has been made that we ought to make structures of the ANC a bit useful so that the majority of the population can actually relate with the movement.” 

The 35-year-old hails from Sekhukhune village, Limpopo. She describes herself as an activist whose political activism began at the tender age of 17.   

Among other academic qualifications, she holds a diploma in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in governance, public administration and development degree obtained at the University of South Africa.  

She hopes to enrol for a Master’s degree by the end of the year. 

Maimela has led several party structures, particularly youth formations from branch level all the way up to national level. These include the South African Students Congress (Sasco), Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), the Young Communist League (YCL) and the national executive committee (NEC) of the Youth League.  


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Upward trajectory

Most notably, in 2021, the NEC appointed her as the coordinator of the ANCYL NTT alongside Nonceba Mhlauli among others. They were tasked with ensuring that the league held its national conference.    

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Appointment of Nonceba Mhlauli to lead ANCYL task team is a historic moment” 

Their deployment was dubbed a historically significant action by the ANC as a woman had never been given the topmost position in the league.  

The move to appoint Mhlauli and Maimela to steer the youth ship out of politically troubled waters was also seen as a contribution towards the intensification of the fight against patriarchy which women at all levels within the party have spoken out strongly about. 

With Ramaphosa currently “applying his mind” to members facing the chop after failing to garner enough votes into the NEC, many are lobbying the president to also deploy young lions into ministerial positions. Maimela is poised to become one of those.  

She would not be drawn into commenting on her willingness to take up a ministerial position except to advocate for young people to be deployed. 

Power to the youth vote

Maimela, in public engagements, has consistently lambasted the mother body for reneging on the generational mix task, something she said could be a contributing factor in the poor voter turnout. 

“It is  important for political parties, especially ours, to speak to the plight of young people, the reason why young people become disengaged or disengaged, when they listen to this organisation speak, they don’t believe it is speaking to them.”

With less than 18 months before the elections, as a young member of the NEC, Maimela said conversations to attract and convince the youth to head to the polls were underway, particularly on how the party speaks to young persons in its manifesto, election machinery, and election plan to ensure that they feel a sense of belonging.  

Maimela has no scandals to her name. While it is unclear which faction she’s aligned with, she’s been unapologetic about calling out officials deployed by the party accused of not serving their communities.  

Speaking at a Peter Mokaba memorial lecture on the eve of the party’s 111th birthday on 7 January, Maimela named and shamed ministers and MEC members whom the youth felt were not serving their communities and called for them to be removed.  

Her remarks — endorsed by secretary general of the party, Fikile Mbalula — were received with cheers of excitement from the youth. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Fikile Mbalula berates ANC officials after party bigwigs get a close-up view of potholed Free State” 

Demanding specifics

Both Maimela and Mhlauli said youth would vehemently reject Ramaphosa’s January 8th speech if it did not comprehensively detail plans on how the party aimed to tackle the scourge of youth unemployment.  

Following the speech, each took an opposing stance with Mhlauli saying it had been balanced and Maimela saying it did not comprehensively address the issue crisis. 

“We felt that the President just touched on the matter, he could have been very precise to say this is a number of jobs to be created and where, so that when those jobs are not created, we are able to point at a relevant department or person.  

“However, we were happy that the President or the ANC for the first time, acknowledge that youth unemployment is a crisis, if you go to literature over the years, we’ve been saying that you need to acknowledge that this thing is a crisis, they have not been saying that, they would have been downplaying it.”  

Post the statement, Maimela said young people in the NEC had been gearing up to participate in the Lekgotla scheduled for the end of the month, where they would seek to ensure that there are timeframes and precision attached to the speech which outlined the party’s priorities for the year. DM

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  • Dennis Bailey says:

    That there is a youth unemployment crisis is a given, but I have yet to hear a single proposal that realistically addresses it from our leadership. The thinking ANC youth leadership quickly get sucked into the get-rich-quick whirlwind that is the ANC. The opposition doesn’t think, least of all, about youth. If by youth, we mean the vast majority (which Motshekga ignores) who don’t get a university pass and will be added to next week’s unemployment stats and will be unemployable by the end of the year. IT IS A CRISIS everybody, and has been for the last 30 years.

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