ANCYL secretary Njabulo Nzuza addressing media about the recent student protests at a briefing in Johannesburg. Picture: African News Agency

Johannesburg – The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) has criticised the “alien behaviour” of senior party leaders who’ve launched lobby groups to advance their availability to succeed President Jacob Zuma when he steps down as ANC leader in December.

It said the power to nominate and elect a new leadership rested with the ANC branches who would form 90% of delegates to the national elective conference to be held in Gauteng.

ANCYL secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza said leaders were expected to confirm their availability after they had been nominated by branches.

ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete has said she had been approached by “various structures” of the ANC to run for the top job, and after agonising over the matter, decided to make herself available.

On Tuesday, Mbete called on “so-called lobbyists” behind a malicious campaign to discredit her to stop using her name for their own ends.

This comes after electronic posters and various items of clothing with her image surfaced on digital platforms on Tuesday, endorsing her bid to become the next ANC leader when President Jacob Zuma steps down in December.

“Such acts are clearly the work of so-called lobbyists seeking to erode unity within the organisation and divide the movement by pitting comrade against comrade,” Mbete said in a statement released by the ANC on Tuesday night.

Addressing the media at the St George’s Hotel in Irene outside Pretoria on Wednesday, the youth league said it had also noted the “temptation and eagerness” by

some alliance partners to pronounce their preferences on who should become the next ANC leader.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has also declared his interest in succeeding Zuma, enjoys the support of labour federation Cosatu, and the SA Communist Party, which has been calling on the ANC tradition of a deputy succeeding the president when it stepped down to be followed.

“The ANC has never interfered on how they elect their leadership and as such they must not attempt to interfere with the processes of how the ANC,” said Nzuza. “The alliance is meant to function as a critical instrument in the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution not leadership preferences.”

The AU Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is also in the race for the top job, and is viewed as enjoying the support of Zuma, who recently told millions of listeners of three SABC radio stations that the country was ready for a female president. He also said it was not the ANC tradition or policy for the deputy to ascend to the throne when the president stepped down.

The ANCYL said it would not be pressured to say who its preferred candidate was, but gave hints on the kind of leader it was willing to back.

Nzuza said they would support someone who would prioritise the radical transformation of the economy, and fasttrack the thorny land issue. Such a leader also needed to have an “appetite to collapse white monopoly capital”.

EFF leader Julius Malema has said the candidate the ANCYL was referring to was Free State Premier and ANC provincial chairperson Ace Magashule.

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