Magasela Mzobe (right) and Mzwandile Masina (left) during the African National Congress Youth League's press conference at Luthuli house in Johannesburg. 200814 Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - The ANC may one day lose power, be an opposition party and a shadow of its former self. The astonishing predictions are contained in a discussion document released this week ahead of its national congress next month, where the youth league asks: “Will the ANC govern for eternity?”

And then attempts to answer:

* “While the affirmative answer to this question is our collective desire as the movement, we certainly do not know.”

* “Should the ANC lose power, what do we re-perceive as its role in post-apartheid SA and subsequently that of the ANCYL?”

* “Will the loss of political power be merely a result of the growing disapproval of our mismanagement of public trust or will it also translate into the rejection of our transformative and developmental ideology?”

As recently as January during campaigning for the May 7 elections, President Jacob Zuma told party supporters in Mpumalanga that the ANC would be the governing party “forever and ever”.

It was also in Mpumalanga in March 2009 where Zuma said the ANC would rule until Jesus returned.

But the ANCYL does not appear to be as convinced as its mother body.

It paints a number of possible scenarios including one that may see Africa’s oldest liberation movement fail, South Africa degenerating into a failed state, the ruling party being in opposition and a shadow of its former self.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said nothing is impossible and that history has taught us no one is invincible, especially political parties.

“There’s no formidable opposition, that’s what is keeping the ANC in power,” Madlala said.

He said the opposition is too fragmented and the ANC loves that.

The ANCYL is also renewing its former leader Julius Malema’s call for nationalisation of mines.

It wants nationalisation because the “loss of mineral goods in the South African economy on account of private mining capital pursuing profits in international markets is unsustainable” and for the state to lay-hold on mineral assets that serve as industrial inputs in the envisioned aggressive strategy of re-industrialisation.

It says the government must use Lonmin as a catalyst in driving towards state intervention in the mining sector.

“It is treason that such a mine continues to be operational yet the matter of all the workers and their families was never addressed,” says the ANCYL.

But Madlala is not convinced nationalisation will succeed as this would be flying in the face of the ANC, which has previously rejected nationalisation.

“Some of these mines are old. Are they really economically viable for nationalisation?”

ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said the idea of the nationalisation of mines was defeated at the ANC’s last policy conference in June 2012. The next policy conference is expected to be held in 2017.

Khoza said the ANCYL serves as a lobbying platform. “Everything depends on whether the policy conference adopts them.

“They can come with any proposals, it really depends on whether the ANC policy conference would consider them favourably,” Khoza said.

The discussion document also calls on ANC to introduce internal electoral reforms such as giving every member of the organisation a right to vote “guided by principles of one member (person), one vote”, member control and “the right of every member to elect and be elected”.

This is described as “direct democracy” by the league and it will also propose that the ANC considers introducing the US-style system of primaries, allow for open lobbying and canvassing (in a regulated environment).

Presently, candidates for leadership positions in the ANC and its leagues cannot publicly declare their interest. Madlala said the ANCYL’s proposed electoral reforms would be a “nice thing” but were a pipe dream.

The discussion documents cover organisational building, political and economic transformation and spheres of influence.

Newly elected ANCYL Gauteng secretary Bones Modise said all nine provinces would hold provincial general councils just before the national congress and express their views on their positions on the discussion documents and get their respective provinces’ mandates.

According to the ANCYL, new ways of lobbying have developed and now “money, the media and state institutions are used to seek to influence the outcome of leadership elections and other decision-making processes within the movement”.

The league will propose that ANC structures be forced to elect a female candidate to one of the two positions of provincial secretary and chairperson at the ANC national general council next year. Currently, all provincial secretaries and chairpersons are men. It says the absence of female political heads in the organisation across provinces is among various pointers to the fact that power in the movement still has an embedded masculinity.

ANC national executive committee member and businessman Tito Mboweni recently expressed his support for government to acquire its own bank and the youth league says building of a mega state-owned bank is critical and key to the transformation of the financial sector.

This week, ANCYL national task team convenor Mzwandile Masina claimed the league’s Lembede Investments no longer belonged to it and was legally sold.

Lembede Investments, established in 2000, was shut down by Malema in 2009 as creditors were mounting and there were allegations that it had benefited from dubious deals.

But this is not stopping the current ANCYL from asking next month’s congress at Gallagher Estate Convention Centre, Midrand, to consider re-establishing its investment arm and other commercial legal ventures as proper means of financial mobilisation.

The league is also considering asking each member capable be encouraged to donate a minimum of R10 per month or facilitating debit orders from all members with income.

The league also appears to exonerate its former president, Malema, from its current difficulties, saying any notion that the Mangaung or Gallagher Estate congresses, during which the Economic Freedom Fighters leader was elected and re-elected respectively, is the beginning and source of all its current organisational weaknesses must be dismissed as it unscientific and lazy.

Instead, it blames state power, which has brought stresses and strains on the values, culture, character and practices of the ANC and all its leagues.


[email protected]

Sunday Independent