Shanti Aboobaker and Babalo Ndenze

ANC Youth League members and supporters were upset yesterday – they had been placed far away from President Jacob Zuma as he gave his opening address as the ANC policy conference kicked off.

They claimed they had been marginalised.

League spokeswoman Magdalene Moonsamy said they arrived to find no seating allocated to ANCYL delegates.

“We didn’t know where we were supposed to be seated, (so) we just found a place.

“It must have been a simple logistical oversight. There was nothing mischievous.”

However, there was in fact a sign at the back of the cavernous venue, in the furthest corner from the stage – an apparent attempt to spare Zuma any embarrassing contact with the youth.

Zuma made it clear at the last meeting of the party’s national executive committee before the conference that the party would not review the expulsion of Julius Malema.

Yesterday, Moonsamy vowed again that Malema-aligned league members and supporters would continue to raise the issue of Malema’s expulsion during the conference.

ANC spokesman Keith Khoza denied there had been any deliberate attempts to sideline the league.

However, an NEC member, who asked not to be named, commented: “Marginalising of the youth league is going on. I sympathise with them a lot because I am a former member.

“We need to protect our children. Bakhumbul’ ikhaya abantwana (The children miss home).”