Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League has taken its pre-election campaign to Julius Malema’s backyard in Seshego, Limpopo, but denies this was an attempt to counter the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) support.
Two years after Luthuli House wrested control of the once powerful youth league from Malema, the new ANCYL national leadership has unleashed President Jacob Zuma and other senior party leaders on Malema’s political base.
This came as some local ANC leaders in Seshego, outside Polokwane, accused their regional leaders of marginalising them ahead of the Peter Mokaba ANC regional conference later this month.
They claimed some of the five ANC branches, including ward 13 - Malema’s former branch - have been excluded from the conference for political reasons.
Zuma is expected to deliver a keynote address at the youth league’s 69th anniversary celebrations in Seshego on September 15.
He would be hosted by anti-Malema leaders appointed after the national ANCYL structure was disbanded by the ANC national executive committee earlier this year.
Limpopo ANCYL interim secretary Musa Chabane, a known Malema rival, said Zuma was also expected to conduct a door-to-door campaign in the area.
Chabane denied the decision to bring the anniversary celebrations to Seshego was an attempt to sway support from the EFF. He said the ANC had previously held celebrations in areas where opposition parties existed.
“Of course we are noting that the perception may exist, that we going there because of that party, but it was not our primary focus,” according to Chabane.
The EFF is believed to have made inroads in provinces such as Limpopo, North West and the Free State, while the ANC is facing challenges including a weakened ANCYL and divisions within Cosatu.
Chabane said Zuma’s delegation would first visit the grave of former ANCYL president Peter Mokaba in Mankweng before the main rally at Seshego Stadium.
“This Friday, former (ANCYL) president Malusi Gigaba will deliver a lecture at a gala dinner,” said Chabane, adding that Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula would address a separate youth league gathering later.
Some disgruntled local ANC leaders, however, have threatened to stay away from the rally if the decision to exclude them from the regional conference was not reversed.
A branch member claimed ward 13, for instance, was “dealt with” because branch chairman Jossey Buthane was close to Malema.
Limpopo interim ANC secretary Joy Matshoge said she was aware of complaints from the ward 13 branch.
“I will await their complaints in writing. From there, internal processes will ensue,” said Matshoge.