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The three musketeers who killed the ANC Youth League

Rhulani Thembi Siweya is a Pan Africanist and writer. She is a member of the ANCYL NEC, founder of Africa Unmasked and an MBA student at MENCOSA. She is a former national treasurer of SASCO.

What do we say when former leaders of the Young Lions, out of obscurity, want to rewrite history and portray themselves as the sole voices of reason?

The three musketeers who have successfully collapsed the ANC Youth League now want to pose as messiahs of the ANC. If the trio collapsed an age-based organisation, a movement of young people below the age of 35, what more damage will they possibly cause to the congress movement with an uncapped age limit?

It all started when the 24th elected ANCYL national leadership was disbanded – a moment in history we live to regret daily. But let us pause for a moment and assume the three musketeers represent the best the ANCYL has ever produced. How did they fail to successfully intervene when the league was collapsing in 2012 and at a time when they enjoyed Cabinet deployments under the ticket of erstwhile youth leadership?

South Africans must know that Emmanuel Nkosinathi Mthethwa, Fikile April Mbalula and Knowledge Malusi Gigaba are not a generation alone.

Does it not mean all three of them tried and failed? Instead they did the obvious and used the “forever young” ticket to dig the Youth League grave deeper during their role in the national task team era.

The trio were very instrumental in the disbandment. They worked tirelessly to deliver a conference which buried the movement deep in the graveyard.

As young people, we were too quick to celebrate when they were appointed to assist the league then. Little did we know that they were opportunistic in their conduct. All along they have been parasitic and self-serving both in nature and character.

At what point will the three musketeers cease to identify themselves as “young” leaders? More so as self-anointed glorious leaders of the ANCYL post-unbanning. I think it is about time we remind them that their opportunistic use of generational mix for self-advancement is stale.

A lot of leaders of the ANC have led the ANCYL even before the three musketeers. Those leaders led well and we continue to quote and make reference to their commitment to the movement today.

Sadly, we can’t say the same about the three musketeers because they have not only failed young people, but have also used the concept of youth as a ticket to secure Cabinet posts and positions in the ANC while doing nothing for the betterment of the youth of the country or their peers. The weaknesses and the collapse of the ANCYL structures in the country are a result of their doing but they do not seem at all bothered because they have secured their deep desires for Cabinet posts and positions in the ANC.

They have enjoyed state deployment yet delivered very little if at all for the youth of this country; unashamedly, they continue to brand themselves as heroes of a generational mix.

We must refuse to identify ourselves with them and continue to expose them for what they have become since receiving invitations to serve in Cabinet.

We need to come together as young people and focus on building capacity. We need to produce more trusted and reliable cadres who will not auction the interests of young people in society in exchange for self-interest. The time is now, we need to act and progressively effect change in this regard.

We need to align ourselves with those who have done well and shame those who continue to hold on to things that do not exist while depriving legitimate people of an opportunity to thrive.

The trio needs to be reminded that there have been generations before theirs and even post their existence. We are sending a message to them to stop defining themselves as though nothing youthful exists beyond them. We are also part of a generation which lives and continues to do well in the development of society. DM

Rhulani Thembi Siweya is an ANCYL NEC, Founder of Africa Unmasked and writes in her personal capacity.


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