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Cape Town - ANC Youth League leaders on Monday go into a meeting with the top six officials of the ANC, keen to open a new chapter in relations.
The high-level meeting, set to begin at 2pm, will mark the first time the league’s leadership sits down with the newly elected ANC officials since the party’s Mangaung conference.
It marks the start of a process mandated by conference delegates - for the ANC’s national executive committee to deal with internal problems plaguing the league and restore relations between itself and its mother body.
The league welcomed the opportunity, spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni said. “We’re going in very optimistic,” Sangoni said.
Fraught relations between the league and the ANC meant there was little formal interaction between them last year.
Sangoni said because the meeting had been called by the ANC, the league was not at liberty to speak about it much.
“Mangaung directed the ANC NEC to deal with some of the challenges, perceived or real, in the league. So we are going in to get the ANC to direct us on the issues they would want us to address,” Sangoni said.
League leaders may discuss the talks during a routine meeting of their national working committee set for this morning.
Last week, acting league president Ronald Lamola publicly endorsed the new ANC leadership chosen at Mangaung. He insisted the league was not suffering from any “hangover” after backing the losing horses in the race.
A key issue confronting the league is electing a new president to replace its expelled leader, Julius Malema, whose banishment to the political wilderness was emphatically confirmed at Mangaung.
The ANC has no intention of disbanding its youth wing, but wants it functioning efficiently in a way that supports its broader political programmes. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told Independent Newspapers it was the responsibility of the national executive committee to ensure the league functioned effectively.
League national executive member Abner Mosase, whose name is among a number doing the rounds as possible replacements for Malema, said that the meeting was “introductory”.
“We will be having frank discussions on our interpretation of the resolution (on the youth league) at Mangaung,” Mosase said. “We are trying to find each other politically.”
He said it would be wrong to construe today’s meeting with the ANC as likely to be confrontational. “We expect the new leadership of the ANC to give guidance to the youth that is necessary.
“What is important is to bring back a youth league which drives an agenda for social transformation in a manner that is respectful and disciplined…”
At the same time, the youth league wanted to ensure that its autonomy - and its ability to raise difficult questions - were preserved.
However, there was no reason it had to define itself as being in opposition to the ANC to do this, Mosase said.
Jockeying for the league’s presidential post is under way.
While the league is to have a national general council this year, some of its leaders believe it should be held as soon as possible to decide on Malema’s replacement and other top leadership positions.
The league’s national executive committee, which meets on February 27, could decide on this.