Opinionista Rebone Tau 30 October 2019

Please don’t allow the ANC Youth League to die

All is not well in the ANCYL and the situation is getting worse. Branches of the youth league are dysfunctional and not programme-driven. Factionalism and gatekeeping have become the order of the day.

An Open Letter to the ANC NEC:

Revolutionary Greetings ANC National Executive Committee,

It is neither organisational nor usual for a member of the ANC Youth League or ANC to write an open letter to the leadership, as one would usually be told to go to one’s branch to raise matters organisationally. Unfortunately, material conditions do not allow me to go to my branch of the ANCYL due to the difficult conditions one finds oneself in as an activist.

But my revolutionary consciousness does not allow me to turn a blind eye to the current status of the ANCYL. My heart is bleeding looking at the status of the league, being a product of both this organisation and the glorious movement.

As we celebrated the Morogoro Conference 50th anniversary this month linking it to the life of President OR Tambo, it would be correct for the leadership to really reflect on the status of the ANCYL and not reflect along factional lines within the ANC NEC. Comrade Chris Hani and others at the Morogoro Conference wrote a memorandum to the leadership of the ANC at the time. Some of the things they spoke about back then are still relevant today.

To quote from their letter: “We are disturbed by the careerism of the ANC Leadership Abroad who have, in every sense, become professional politicians rather than professional revolutionaries. We have been forced to draw the conclusion that the payment of salaries to people working in offices is very detrimental to the revolutionary outlook of those who receive such monies.

What Chris Hani and others said at the time is still relevant today when one looks at ANCYL politics that are no longer about activism, but more about tenders and careerism, as that is what we have reduced our politics to – what we today call “politics of the stomach”.

It is sad that at the same time as the ANC NEC was celebrating the 50th anniversary of Morogoro and the life of OR Tambo in Soweto, the ANC Youth Task Team was in Limpopo convening ANCYL assemblies, and two cars were burned in Limpopo. It was also sad to read on the SABC Twitter handle that two former ANCYL presidents, Malusi Gigaba and Fikile Mbalula, had to flee from an ANCYL meeting. Let’s not forget that the two former presidents of the ANCYL were part of the task team that delivered the most recent disbanded ANCYL NEC. This is a clear sign that all is not well in the ANCYL and the situation is getting worse.

The ANC NEC can’t sit back and not engage frankly on the current status of the ANCYL. Whoever thought such a thing would happen to former presidents of the ANCYL? This should be a wake-up call for the leadership that things need to be done differently in the rebuilding process of the youth league. There is a need for a different approach moving forward.

We can go back to the historic ANCYL 2008 Mangaung National Congress when the congress had to be adjourned after the announcement of the top five and was reconvened in Nasrec. Can we say the problems of the ANCYL started there, as the ANC NEC at the time imposed the leadership on us as members?

Later, the 2011 ANCYL NEC was seen to be problematic by the ANC NEC – which led to the expulsion of the ANCYL president, Julius Malema, and the suspension of the Secretary-General, Sindiso Magaqa. Then, the ANCYL NEC was disbanded in 2013 and a national task team was appointed. A leadership of the ANCYL was imposed on us again in 2015, just like in 2008.

I ask myself, what kind of ANCYL are we going to have moving forward, since we have been rebuilding since 2013? The current ANCYL is not the one I joined. We are no longer in touch with the people on the ground.

The letter written by Comrade Chris Hani and others referred to above says, “The youth of South Africa is not located in London or in any European capital. We therefore take particular exception to the appointment of certain students as leaders of the ANC Youth. Thabo Mbeki, who went to London on a scholarship sponsored by Nusas, is a leader of ANC bogus Youth Organisation” – which is what is happening at this present moment.

One can safely say a bogus ANCYL NEC was imposed upon us in 2015 to advance ANC factional politics going into the 2017 ANC Conference to publicly defend certain leaders in the ANC. That ANCYL NEC was located at Luthuli House and could not be found in society playing its role, or building branches or even having political education for its members.

The ANCYL is a preparatory school of the ANC, as we all know. One still wonders what was the logic of having the officials of the ANCYL being part of this current task team. They failed to take regions and provinces to their elective congresses during their term of office, or even deliver a national elective congress, which was postponed twice, and nothing was communicated to members. The ANCYL was even liquidated under their watch, something that has never happened since the formation of the ANCYL in 1944.

We did not do well in the most recent national general election, which one would have thought would be a wake-up call for all of us in the organisation, especially the leadership. We are no longer in touch with the people on the ground as our focus is more on internal ANC battles, which are not taking the organisation anywhere.

Branches of the ANCYL are dysfunctional and not programme-driven. Factionalism and gatekeeping have become the order of the day. Those who did not join politics for tenders and jobs are purged because they are seen as being independent in their thinking.

I plead with the ANC NEC to review their decision as we celebrate the Morogoro Conference 50th anniversary – two cars have been burned, and we can’t have a situation whereby someone might be killed in this process. Can the ANC NEC do a thorough analysis on the status of the ANCYL before it is too late? There is no need to even rush the congress to sit next year, as the problems of the ANCYL are too deep if we want a functional ANCYL moving forward.

I plead with your good selves to make sure we hold an all-inclusive credible and legitimate national congress. It is a humble plea to you as the leadership – please don’t allow the ANCYL to die during your era and under your watch. We are currently on autopilot as the ANCYL. It would be good that those who will be elected are cadres who will serve the people, and not individual interests – we have seen what individual interests have done to the organisation.

We need to remember that the heart and soul of the ANCYL is the people of South Africa. We can’t have an ANCYL that does not serve the people – the time of serving individuals is over and people need to understand that moving forward.

Aluta Continua!

Comradely yours, Rebone Tau. DM

Rebone Tau is a former ANCYL National Task Team member. She writes in her personal capacity.

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