Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League leadership race has officially begun, after a region in President Jacob Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal nominated a candidate to lead the organisation.
The league’s current national co-ordinator, Magasela Mzobe, has been nominated by KZN’s influential Harry Gwala region to take over the reins.
The region nominated Mzobe for president at last weekend’s conference and will take its decision to the league’s long-awaited national conference in September.
Xolani Zuma, the youth league’s provincial task team member deployed to the region, confirmed the special resolution to nominate Mzobe.
“Harry Gwala held its own conference in preparation for the provincial conference and the national conference. What transpired there is that the region took resolutions on a number of things, like youth development.
“They also took a special resolution and want Magasela Mzobe to head up the youth league nationally,” said Zuma.
The league has been struggling to rid itself of the ghost of ex-president Julius Malema, who now leads the Economic Freedom Fighters.
With the ANC targeting the youth vote, the league is a crucial player in its election machinery.
But as it celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, the league has been criticised as a shadow of its former self, without a clear programme to help the ruling party to win the youth vote.
Lobbying for top positions started late last year, with names such as the league’s former national executive committee member, Ntibi Modise, Mzobe and former deputy president Ronald Lamola being bandied about.
ANC national executive committee member Pule Mabe is also believed to be running a campaign to lead the league.
Mzobe is a senior manager in the Health Department and a former SA Students Congress secretary and chairman.
The Harry Gwala region is situated in the south of KZN, in the Midlands, with 56 branches in total.
At the national conference, the region will be allowed two delegates per branch, giving it 112 voting delegates. Mzobe hails from the Harry Gwala region, which has produced the likes of former national secretary Sindiso Magaqa.
The province’s biggest region is eThekwini, with 110 branches. Its nomination of Mzobe could be interpreted as an attempt by Zuma to control the league during his second term in office.
In the run-up to the ruling party’s conference in Mangaung in 2012, the league had a fraught relationship with the mother body.
Zuma said the task team set up to assist the league was happy with the progress, although only three regions had held conferences.
“As you know, the organisation was almost liquidated, but we believe we’re doing a good job. We must also be mindful of the fact that the youth league is turning 70 this year, but we are equal to the task,” said Zuma.
He said the provincial conference would sit immediately after the last regional conference.
The Inkosi Bambatha region is expected to hold its own conference at the weekend.