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MICHELLE PIETERSEN and BABALO NDENZE
THE ANC’s newly-elected leadership is to meet urgently to decide on the future of its youth league.
This was the mandate given by delegates at the ANC’s conference in Mangaung on Wednesday.
It follows a failed bid to get delegates to back a call to have the league’s national leadership under acting president Ronald Lamola disbanded.
Lamola stepped in after former league president Julius Malema was expelled from the ANC.
The call for the current national executive to be disbanded came during one of the commissions debating the ANC’s organisational renewal on Wednesday night.
Delegates from Mpumalanga raised the matter and, it is understood, were backed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape during a session that saw heated debate.
When no consensus could be reached the matter was referred to the plenary session following the commissions.
Delegates resolved that the newly elected national executive committee (NEC) should intervene urgently.
Commission rapporteur, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, said: “The motion (to disband the youth league’s membership) was put to conference, but after discussions it was decided that the NEC must meet to discuss the matter and also look at resolving the issues.
“The youth league is an important structure of the ANC, especially as the majority of voters are under the age of 35.”
She said it was an “important and urgent matter” which the NEC would look into. Potgieter-Gqubule said the NEC would look at the national and provincial structures of the league to assess the state of the organisation “and their behaviour towards the ANC”.
A debate over the league’s autonomy – and the control the ANC has, or should have, over it – has been raging ever since Malema started striding across the political stage.
Malema was decisively dealt with by the party’s disciplinary machinery, his expulsion not only stalling his political ambitions but also destabilising the league, which refused to elect a new leadership, insisting that he was targeted because of his opposition to President Jacob Zuma.
A youth delegation this week failed to raise from the conference floor the issue of Malema’s expulsion. As the highest-decision making body in the ANC, his expulsion could have been set aside if such a proposal were backed by more than half of the delegates.
But Malema has lost support both within the ANC and its youth league.
A delegate said the bid for the league executive’s disbandment was rejected in the plenary session because it lacked “political substance”.
“It came from some disgruntled people from KZN. It’s these Zulu boys who just have hate for Julius Malema. They speak of the ANC Youth League as if they’re speaking of Julius Malema,” he said.
But while the conference rejected the move, it is still a possibility that the NEC, after investigating, will decide that the youth league’s national executive should be dissolved along with any other provincial structures found to be dysfunctional.
Malema suffered another blow when a letter he wrote begging to be readmitted to the ANC was not entertained by the ANC.
It’s been a tough week for the ANC Youth League when attempts by its former president Malema to have himself admitted back into the ANC were rejected after the party refused to discuss his letter of apology at the Mangaung national conference.
On Sunday, Malema and his two lieutenants, Floyd Shivambu and Sindiso Magaqa, wrote to the ANC asking that their sanctions be reversed.
Malema wanted to be reinstated as a member of the ANC and to his position as a member of the Limpopo ANC provincial executive committee. He was expelled in April, while Shivambu, the league’s former spokesman, was suspended for five years and Magaqa, received a one-year suspension. They had been found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute. In their letter, they said they were willing to be “corrected and guided” and remained loyal party members.
Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said at a briefing on Wednesday the matter could not be put on the agenda because the letter arrived too late.
A Western Cape delegate claimed Mantashe lacked “an ounce of forgiveness in his heart”. He said the league was pushing for Fikile Mbalula to be elected to the NEC.