ANCYL national congress to convene in Bloemfontein in May
The last time the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) convened a national congress in Bloemfontein 12 years ago — electing Julius Malema as president — it was characterised by exposed bottoms and flying chairs.
The league will revisit the University of the Free State (UFS) in May for its national congress. It was meant to convene later this month, but national youth task team (NYTT) convener Thandi Mahambehlala on Monday announced a change of date to May.
Mahambehlala said the delay was necessitated by several issues, particularly delays in the capturing and verification of membership and the league's failure to convene provincial conferences.
Membership capturing and verification were gridlocked, claimed Mahambehlala, after provincial leaders refused to verify membership of those they did not like.
But the problems of the task team are many. Internal divisions appear to have heightened after coordinator Sibongile Besani pulled a no-show at the press conference for the first time since the structure was formed.
Besani has twice broken ranks with the task team collective, after he initially resigned from his position — until the ANC parent body's national working committee rejected his resignation.
His latest defiant move was writing to ANCYL branches informing them he would not sign off membership audit reports as he would not have been party to that process.
Mahambehlala downplayed Besani's defiance and defended his absence at the press briefing, saying he had reported sick.
She also announced a resolution to “strengthen” Besani's office with former presidents of the league like Malusi Gigaba, Fikile Mbalula and Lulu Johnson, who have been deployed to the coordinator's office.
Among other challenges, the task team is also facing questions over their legitimacy to preside over the league's affairs.
One ANCYL presidential hopeful, Collen Malatji, recently called on task team members to resign and allow people within the league's age limit of 14 to 35 to take over.
Mahambehlala slammed Malatji, saying they would not be told what to do by him.
Elaborating on the reasons for the latest postponement of the congress, she said: “As things stand, out of nine provinces, we are done with Limpopo, which has 52,000 members in good standing and verified. We have done two regions in the Eastern Cape and we are starting in KZN.
“On verification, we resolved that the ANC should lead the process for us to be able to have a credible conference and a product that is quality, and that verification will be followed by the audit.
“Part of why we have postponed is the fact that we want to go to the conference of the youth league with delegations from the provincial executive committees' leading branches because branches cannot go to national congress leading themselves.
“We took a decision to say, let us allow provinces to go to their provincial congresses, so that we have delegates that are not leaderless towards the congress.
“The strengthening of the coordinator's office is on that basis, so that we are able to achieve our objective to make it a point that in May congress sits, so that the ANCYL will participate in the national general council of the ANC with a mandated and elected leadership.”