ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe gestures during a media briefing at Luthuli house, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg
Boksburg – ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has labelled the ANC Youth League as “henchmen”, who are unleashed on individuals in the ANC – in order to create enemies that do not exist.

Mantashe said it was clear from the ANCYL’s comments that they had no structure in place and spent their time attacking members with whom they did not agree.

“Our own youth league has decided to be henchmen who can be unleashed on individual comrades. When you have a structure like that, you must appreciate that you almost have no structure.

“Because that structure is not going to play its rightful role,” said Mantashe to loud applause.

He was speaking at the National Union of Mineworkers’ central committee meeting on Thursday, and said the league did not fit into the approach the ANC had chosen to unite the alliance and rid the party of its factional cliques.

The league has a long history of supporting certain factions within the ANC, especially ahead of the party’s elective conferences.

This time it has chosen to back former AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its preferred candidate to succeed Jacob Zuma as ANC president.

Mantashe listed various instances where the league played a key role in tarnishing the image of ANC leaders.

“Cyril Ramaphosa and Pravin Gordhan are not their (ANCYL) enemies, they are not the enemies of the revolution.

“The youth league did that to Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and then it became their trademark to be henchmen that can be unleashed on individual cadres of the movement,” said Mantashe.

He explained the decision not to recall the president and reiterated earlier comments that it would have meant the death of the ANC. The decision to recall Zuma was discussed at last year’s ANC national executive committee meeting in November, and at the recent one.

ANC branches and regional and provincial structures would have been spilt down the middle had the decision been taken, said Mantashe.

He said the party had opted to focus on the road to its December elective conference, where a strong leadership would be elected to convince the public that the ANC was serious about stopping corruption.

“In the North West, there would have been chaos. In the Free State, there would have been a disaster. If we had done that, everyone would have clapped for us, but the movement would have been torn apart. It would have made the formation of Cope, which followed the removal of former president Thabo Mbeki, seem like a Sunday picnic,” he said.

“We must elect a leadership in December that will send a message that it is not about “aloota continua” (looting will continue). It will be about electing a leadership that will send the message that we are serious about stopping corruption and looting in the state,” said Mantashe.

He was also critical of calls for the ANC’s alliance partner, the SACP, to leave the alliance and contest elections on its own. He said that move would destroy both the ANC and the Communist Party.

“Impatience within the movement is the reason why some believe that a divorce between the ANC and SACP is in our interests.”

The Star