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Johannesburg - The DA’s youth wing is showing signs of trouble with its national leaders postponing its federal youth congress for the second time in less than three months because they have not been able to choose leaders at branch level in their provinces.
The structure’s national leaders have now proposed to cut the number of branch leaders in some of its provinces so that the national congress can still go ahead.
Provincial youth leaders say postponement is unrealistic and that their national leaders are making a mockery of the structure.
Two years have passed since the DA’s youth structure was established. The federal youth congress was supposed to be held at the same time as the national congress at the end of last month.
But a decision was taken at the DA Youth’s federal executive meeting in September to postpone the congress until the first quarter of next year because no branch leaders had been chosen.
By January 31, said a memorandum released after the meeting, 75 percent of the branches needed to be constituted – or the congress could not be held.
This week in a telephonic conference, however, it was decided that the congress would only be held in April, giving the provinces until the end of February to hold branch AGMs and their provincial councils.
The branch delegates are chosen at annual general meetings. Once the delegates are chosen, a provincial council can be held where provincial leaders are chosen for the national congress. But to date less than 40 percent of the branch leaders in the provinces have been chosen. The Sunday Independent has seen a tracking sheet percent of branches were chosen by October.
On the sheet, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West provinces were in the lead. Gauteng had chosen delegates in 29 of the 36 branches while North West had five of the seven branches constituted.
The Eastern Cape had however only constituted four of its 12 branches, while the Western Cape had only chosen delegates in 12 of its 58 branches.
Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal had not chosen any delegates. Derick Moshoana, a youth delegate in Limpopo, told The Sunday Independent the province was in crisis.
“There are no branches in existence. The national leadership has failed us. They resolved that they would come to Limpopo to help us constitute the branches, but they never arrived,” said Moshoana.
He said it would be impractical to have the federal congress in April as they did not have any delegates in their 26 branches.
“We are closing next week. We only come back in mid-January. It will be impossible to host the congress in April. According to our constitution we need around 60 days to plan a provincial congress,” he said.
Moshoana said he had shot down as unconstitutional a proposal in this week’s teleconference that Limpopo would only provide delegates in five of their 26 branches.
Moshoana said the DA youth members in the province were “running around like Mickey Mouses”.
A delegate from another province, who did not wish to be named, said it would not be fair to go to the national congress representing only 20 percent of the members.
“It makes a mockery of the congress. It’s clear that they are pushing an agenda and that they want to give the provinces that support the leaders they want elected to have more delegates than those problematic provinces.”
He said there were provinces where the branch leaders had been chosen but no provincial congress had been held.
But DA Youth leader Makashule Gana said the national leadership were “looking at the numbers this week” and it was promising. “We are confident that by the end of the year we will be close to our target of constituting 75 percent of our branches and we will have our congress next year,” said Gana.
He would however not give the new figures. The official figures would be released in January after the next federal executive meeting. Gana said there were a “combination of factors” that led to only 34 percent of the branches being constituted.
“We have been trying to have structures in every province but there are challenges. To expect that in two years we would have constituted all our branches is too ambitious. We are confident that we will have our congress in the first quarter. The members are committing to do the work.”
Gana dismissed statements that the delegates would be cut down and that the congress was being delayed.
He said the date of the federal congress was not cast in stone and would be dependent on whether or not the branches were constituted.
“A decision will be made at the end of January,” said Gana.
According to the memorandum from the September meeting, a road show was to be held in the provinces to present the proposal of the congress next year.
But several senior youth members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that to date no road shows had taken place.
Gana, however, disputed this, saying he had presented the plan to Gauteng, that there were discussions in the Eastern Cape and that he would be going to Limpopo “pretty soon”.