Youth League holds an ace up its sleeve

Business Day - - NATIONAL - Joe Brock

THE ANC needs a bold leader to launch a “sec­ond revo­lu­tion” re­dis­tribut­ing wealth to black peo­ple, said the rul­ing party’s youth wing leader, Collen Maine.

The ANC Youth League, a pow­er­ful or­gan of the party, helped pro­pel Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to power. Zuma is ex­pected to step down as ANC leader in De­cem­ber and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the head of the AU and his ex-wife, along with his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa are widely seen as the two lead­ing can­di­dates to re­place him.

But Maine said the can­di­date the league would en­dorse at a party con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber would send “shock waves” through the ANC, sug­gest­ing the league would not back ei­ther fron­trun­ner.

“These can­di­dates who have been men­tioned are part of the sys­tem. They have been part of the sys­tem we want to change,” Maine said. “We need bold lead­er­ship. We need a sec­ond revo­lu­tion that will cause rup­tures in the econ­omy.”

Nei­ther Dlamini-Zuma nor Ramaphosa have de­clared their in­ten­tion to run for the ANC lead­er­ship at this point. But they have not re­buffed those who have linked their names with the post ei­ther. Given the party’s dom­i­nance since 1994, who­ever suc­ceeds Zuma as ANC leader will most likely re­place him as the coun­try’s pres­i­dent too when elec­tions are held in 2019.

Maine, who has been a staunch de­fender of Zuma against party crit­ics, said that ev­ery ANC leader had failed to de­liver on the prom­ise to trans­form SA, which re­mains starkly un­equal more than two decades af­ter the end of whitemi­nor­ity rule.

Maine said he wanted a new leader to take rad­i­cal mea­sures, such as the re­dis­tri­bu­tion of land, to dis­perse wealth from white elites to black peo­ple, as well as to limit the in­flu­ence of for­eign com­pa­nies and give the poor free ed­u­ca­tion.

“Our lead­ers have de­railed the revo­lu­tion. We were sup­posed to get more than just the vote. We need to shake up the econ­omy.

“You don’t have a revo­lu­tion with­out pain,” Maine said.

Un­der the youth league’s last pres­i­dent, Julius Malema, the group was in­stru­men­tal in forc­ing out Thabo Mbeki as pres­i­dent and in­stalling Zuma.

Maine was elected youth leader un­op­posed in 2015, three years af­ter Malema was ex­pelled for turn­ing against Zuma. Maine says the youth league has 600,000 mem­bers and a sig­nif­i­cant vot­ing block at the party con­fer­ence, though the com­plex lead­er­ship elec­tion process means it is un­clear ex­actly how much in­flu­ence it will wield come De­cem­ber.

Ramaphosa, who was once touted as a suc­ces­sor to Nel­son Man­dela, would be first choice for many in­vestors be­cause his busi­ness back­ground sug­gests he will sup­port more probusi­ness poli­cies than many in the tra­di­tion­ally left-wing ANC.

Dlamini-Zuma was re­garded as a ca­pa­ble tech­no­crat dur­ing her time as min­is­ter of home af­fairs from 2009 to 2012 and has since gained in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure as the first fe­male head of the AU.

The ANC Women’s League en­dorsed Dlamini-Zuma last week and Zuma, who will have a ma­jor say in who suc­ceeds him, is also ex­pected to back his ex-wife if she runs.

Maine has courted con­tro­versy by say­ing a sharp de­val­u­a­tion of the rand cur­rency would force SA to make tough eco­nomic de­ci­sions and turn the ta­bles on the white busi­ness elite, even if it caused near-term pain for the gen­eral public.

SA’s econ­omy is barely grow­ing and rat­ings agen­cies have threat­ened to down­grade the coun­try’s sov­er­eign debt rat­ing to “junk”.

The poli­cies es­poused by Maine would spook fi­nan­cial mar­kets but he said in an in­ter­view with Reuters that that should not be a worry for politi­cians bent on change.

“We should not be con­cerned with mar­kets. Once we hear the rand is go­ing to fall, or we are go­ing to ‘junk’, we get very ner­vous. Black peo­ple are al­ready in junk. If some white peo­ple want to leave South Africa, let them leave.

“In­vestors will not leave. They need South Africa.”

Maine has also openly ad­mit­ted to sev­eral times meet­ing the Gupta fam­ily, In­dian busi­ness­men close to Zuma who have been ac­cused of in­flu­enc­ing Cabi­net ap­point­ments and win­ning gov­ern­ment ten­ders un­fairly.

A re­port by the for­mer public pro­tec­tor found ev­i­dence the Gupta fam­ily held un­due in­flu­ence over gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions. Zuma and the Gupta fam­ily deny any wrong­do­ing.

“The only mis­take the Gup­tas made was go­ing into a space re­served for white peo­ple,” Maine said. “If you want to see who has cap­tured this coun­try, look at white monopoly cap­i­tal.”

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