ANC Youth League members cry foul after leadership elected unopposed
Collen Malatji’s ‘Economic Freedom or Death’ slate was elected unopposed at the ANC Youth League’s national conference, but some members claimed they were sidelined.
While the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) was able to elect leaders after eight years without an official national structure, some of the young lions were alienated after they were excluded from participating in the national elective conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg, over the weekend.
The youth league’s national leadership was elected uncontested on Saturday evening, with former Congress of South African Students president Collen Malatji clinching the top position. The 30-year-old is a member of Parliament and a municipal governance graduate from the University of Johannesburg.
The rest of Malatji’s “Economic Freedom or Death” slate was also successful. The deputy president of the league is Phumzile Mgcina, the secretary-general is Mntuwoxolo Ngudle, the first deputy secretary-general is Tsakani Shiviti and Zwelo Masilela is the treasurer-general.
A constitutional amendment to allow a second deputy secretary-general to be elected was passed, which saw the Free State’s Olga Seate elected.
However, a group of former National Youth League Task Team members are unhappy with events over the weekend.
The group consists of Sebang Mothlabi, Anela Matuntuta, Tlangi Mogale, Palo Jama, Mayibuye Bangani, Karabo Mohale and Itumeleng Ntsube.
They raised issues around the credentials required for the conference, which resulted in members of the Chris Hani and Tshwane regions not being able to register and participate as voting delegates.
They also questioned the removal and duplication of delegates from various regions including Vhembe, Frances Baard and Mogalakwena.
Mogale told Daily Maverick that despite writing a letter to the league’s steering committee airing their grievances, these issues were not resolved.
“They proceeded without entertaining our issues. We have decided to take it up with national officials because we are still members of [the] youth league and we still have a voice,” she said.
Mogale believes there was a deliberate exclusion of the Eastern Cape’s Chris Hani region because, had they participated, Aphiwe Mkhangelwa would have contested Malatji for the position of president. And the exclusion of the Tshwane region meant Khulekani Sikhosana could not be fielded as a candidate for secretary-general.
Mogale reiterated that some members felt “prejudiced” but said that they were not considering taking legal action at this point.
“We will exhaust all internal processes. We are hoping that the ANC will intervene in the name of democratic centralism,” Mogale said.
In the letter dated 1 July 2023, the disgruntled collective also raised issues about how former National Youth League Task Team convener Xola Nqola was removed from his position by ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula.
“Comrade Xola Nqola was appointed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ANC and only the NWC can remove him. The Secretary-General of the ANC has no power to suspend or remove a person unilaterally. The NWC has never sat to remove or suspend the Convener. He should be in this Congress as part of the credentials,” the letter read.
The bone of contention between Mbalula and Nqola was over the task team’s decision to go ahead with the league’s Eastern Cape congress despite concerns over the province’s lack of readiness.
Mbalula is among senior party members accused of trying to influence the outcome of the Eastern Cape and national youth conferences.
He has refuted the claims, saying that the last time he had a hand in a youth league conference was when Julius Malema was elected.
“This time around, I’m not scared — I am the secretary-general of the ANC. I hear speaking about me trying to align myself for 2027 but that’s too far,” Mbalula said during his speech on Saturday.
The road to 2024
The newly elected youth league leadership will have the arduous task of attracting young people to vote for the governing party.
Speaking at the conference on Sunday, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa said the league should be key in ensuring that apathetic young people voted in the general election next year.
“The ANC is optimistic that now that there is an elected leadership of the ANCYL, there will be new impetus and drive to mobilise young people on behalf of our movement. The absence of the ANC Youth League was quite obvious in the muted dynamism of our recent campaigns. Of course, the last campaign was waged during the global pandemic, which brought its own challenges,” Ramaphosa said.
He stressed that the league was not merely an auxiliary of the party and that it should be modernised and become attractive to the young people of South Africa.
“You must drive campaigns on voter education amongst communities, focusing on encouraging young people to register to vote. The youth league must also focus on broader civic education as too many people are still not aware of their rights and responsibilities,” Ramaphosa said. DM