OPINION | ANC to blame for ANCYL losing its spark
As things stand, the ANC’s campaign leading towards the May election rests solely on the shoulders of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Let me explain why.
His counterparts in the top six find themselves having to ward off skeletons, thanks to revelations at the Zondo commission of enquiry on state capture.
This is where leaders’ names such as ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe have been dropped, implicating them in receiving kickbacks from Bosasa.
Mantashe has denied any wrongdoing.
This is in sharp contrast to events leading to all other general elections.
For instance, in 1999 the party had the popular choice of Nelson Mandela as party president, and also had the likes of Thabo Mbeki, who appealed to the intelligentsia, and Kgalema Motlanthe, as the party’s secretary -general.
Then came the Jacob Zuma years, which saw him running a vibrant election campaign towards the 2009 and 2014 general elections, which featured Mantashe, and firebrands Fikile Mbalula and the then ANC youth league president Julius Malema. Zuma also had very strong support base in provinces such as Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West in the likes of Magashule, Supra Mahomapelo and the now deputy president David Mabuza.
This made it easy for the party to remain in charge, despite the controversies which bedeviled the Zuma administration.
And this was despite the party’s second highest decision making body between election conferences – the national executive committee – endorsing a controversial decision to expel Malema from the party in February 2012.
Malema remains the youth league’s most popular and influential leader post-1990.
Malema’s decision to form the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on the eve of the 2014 elections remains the worst setback for the party, considering the support the EFF has consistently secured, thanks to the youth vote.
This is the youth league which shocked many when it announced its commitment to address the land question, and go back to the Freedom Charter’s founding principle of providing free education for all.
This is the ANC youth which championed “economic freedom in (our) lifetime”, a policy which the party later adopted after having expelled Malema and his supporters from the ANC.
It was the election of Collen Maine as Malema’s successor at the September 2015 national conference in Midrand when the ANCYL lost its spark.
At the time, Maine was MEC for local government & human settlements in the North West and enjoyed support from Zuma allies, a group known as the “Premier League”.
They included then North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, then Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza and then Free State premier Ace Magashule.
The youth vote is crucial to win elections. Of the 26.7million registered voters for next month’s general elections, more than 5.6 million are aged between 18-29 (among them are 351,070 first time voters).
Maine spent last week in the Eastern Cape as part of an election campaign to lure young voters to vote for the ANC.
Among the areas he visited were Mhlontlo in Tsolo, OR Tambo in Mthatha, Buffalo City in King William’s Town and East London.
This was before joining Ramaphosa in Port Elizabeth last Sunday, where the president held an election rally in New Brighton.
Maine, with several events lined up for his visit to the heartland of the ANC, was supposed to lay a wreath at the graveside of late ANCYL founding member Lionel Mxolisi Majombozi in King William’s Town. But this was not to be.
ANCYL national spokesman Mlondi Mkhize confirmed to the Dispatch on Tuesday last week that Maine had to shelve the Majombozi event, “because comrades had not informed the family that we would be visiting the grave side”.
“In African culture, that is not allowed. And so we cancelled the event and informed the family that we will come back and lay the wreath to honour this stalwart,” said Mkhize.
The cancellation of the Majombozi family visit was one of many negative experiences that Maine and his crew had in the province.
Mkhize said even though the ANCYL enjoyed much support when visiting provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Mpumalanga, “we get a mixed reaction in the Eastern Cape and other areas because some regions are more poorly organised than others and so, when you are on the ground, you get a sense that people are unaware of some of the programmes. That’s the sense we get from some parts of the Eastern Cape,” said Mkhize.This is the very youth which should have the energy to drive the ANC’s election programme. When it fails to honour its own programme, what about the election campaign?It’s only a couple of weeks before the election. When asked if the snubbing of ANCYL events had anything to do with the fact that 20% of the youth quota had not been adhered to on some provincial and the national lists – Mkhize said it would be uncalled for to capitalise on that “because when you join the ANC, you do not do that to be included in election lists”.“We should have rolled out ANCYL programmes throughout our term of office. The chaos in some areas suggests that there are problems.“Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we were supposed to go to congress last year and did not. It’s reflecting badly. But lists have nothing to do with it,” said Mkhize.How this chaos in ANCYL structures in some parts of the country, including the Eastern Cape, coupled with yet another ANC breakaway party in the African Transformation Movement (ATM), will affect the support of the ruling party in these elections remains to be seen.ATM has fielded the youngest party president in post apartheid history in Vuyo Zungula.The party is the brainchild of chief apostle Caesar Nongqunga of Twelve Apostles Church in Christ, and it is making inroads in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.It is a case of let’s wait and see but one thing is for sure, the ANC only has itself to blame for not reviving its youth structures in the post-Malema era...