File photo: Chris Collingridge

Bloemfontein - It’s payback time. With overwhelming support from his party, Jacob Zuma is going to sort out the ANC’s troublesome youth league.

The league’s structures are in tatters following the explusion of its president, Julius Malema, from the ANC and a weak attempt by him and his supporters to unseat Zuma.

Zuma said yesterday that it was time to sort out issues with regards to the youth league.

“They (ANC members) have not been happy with how the ANC Youth League has behaved,” Zuma said at a The New Age breakfast in Bloemfontein.

“We are going to deal with the young people,” he said.

Earlier, re-elected ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe made clear the party took a dim view of attempts to divide it, for example by Malema.

“If you mess up the ANC, the ANC messes you up,” he said.

Zuma said the issue of the youth league had been discussed at the party’s national conference. A decision was taken that the ANC’s new leadership would tackle the matter.

Zuma said there had been unhappiness with the way the league had behaved leading up to Malema’s disciplinary hearing.

The league did not have a president at the moment. It was being led by deputy president Ronald Lamola.

It had also dissolved some of its structures, said Zuma.

Asked whether the ANC had failed the league, Zuma said “not at all”, adding: “The fathers and mothers have not failed the children. At a certain age they get a little bit naughty. That process to deal with your children is not an overnight thing. There is still some delinquency and there is a need to deal with that,” said Zuma.

He said the ANC needed to make sure the league was corrected. When Malema was at the helm of the youth league, he pushed a strong line on nationalisation of the mining sector, something firmly rejected by delegates in Mangaung this week.

There were reports that some delegates wanted the league’s entire executive disbanded.

Neither Zuma nor Mantashe gave any indication that this was on the cards, but the writing is clearly on the wall for the Malema youth leaguers, as it was for those who stood against Zuma this week.

Among them were former ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, former ANC deputy secretary-general and North West premier Thandi Modise, who all lost their places on the ANC national executive committee.

But yesterday saw the ANC putting its new No 2, Cyril Ramaphosa, at the head of a charm offensive as it sought to reassure both investors and a restless public it would tackle economic inequality without recourse to wholescale nationalisation.

At the same breakfast, Ramaphosa stressed that the ruling party backed a mixed-economy model.

But he added the state would intervene to ensure the country’s wealth was better shared.

“Within a mixed economy, the state has a role to play. It intervenes and the private sector also has a role.”

Rejecting charges the ANC was confused on nationalisation, whose defenders at the conference were defeated, Ramaphosa invoked the party’s 1955 Freedom Charter that declares “the people shall share in the wealth of the country”.

“Now the ANC’s duty is to make sure that is fulfilled, and fulfilling that would mean that in certain areas the state intervenes,” he said.

Ramaphosa’s elevation was welcomed in business circles.

Moody’s, one of two credit rating agency to punish South Africa for its mining and leadership woes, said the ANC platform looked “more investor- and business-friendly than had generally been anticipated prior to the conference”. -Saturday Star