ANCYL presidency contest a two-horse race
The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) conference will probably be the next platform on which proxy battles for the ANC 2017 leadership race take place.
The youth league presidency contest appears to be a two-horse race between the candidate from the “premier league”, North West MEC Collen Maine, and former league deputy president Ronald Lamola, around whom many young leaders disillusioned with how the ANC has treated its youth structure in the past few years have gathered.
The conference is scheduled to be held on September 4 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.
Lobby groups with interest in the 2017 election outcome have started to emerge around the leading candidates for the league’s presidential post, including the premier league, which consists of key ANC figures such as Free State Premier Ace Magashule, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.
The premier league scored a victory last week when its candidate, Bathabile Dlamini, was elected president of the ANC Women’s League.
This week saw another aspirant youth league presidential candidate – Lesego Makhubela from Tshwane – making it clear he was ready to join forces with Lamola instead of challenging him for the post, as previously expected.
The move could be seen as a concession that defeating the premier league’s candidates would require unity among the other contenders.
However, former leading candidate and ANC national executive committee member Pule Mabe has not been ruled out of the race, despite falling out of favour with the influential premier league lobby group.
A former supporter of Mabe’s said he would never merge with Makhubela and Lamola.
“Pule feels betrayed. He assisted Lesego and played an intricate role in his campaign, which saw him emerge as the regional chairperson of Tshwane,” said the source.
This week, an anonymous “member of the ANCYL’s Mpumalanga provincial executive” wrote an open letter of complaint addressed to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
In the letter, which City Press had seen, the complainant accused ANCYL national task team leaders Fikile Mbalula and Nathi Mthethwa of imposing their preferred candidates on other members of the organisation, citing Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal as examples.
“We have evidence that ... leaders of the ANC have a vested interest in who should emerge as the youth league president, and we just feel that this is an insult to the young people of the ANC,” reads the letter.
Similar allegations were put by City Press to Mthethwa during a media briefing in June. He declined to comment, saying that no leader of the ANC had an interest in meddling in the affairs of the youth league.
However, those close to Lamola and Makhubela said this week that the premier league was struggling to keep its relationship intact, although in public it appeared to be firmly in charge of its affairs.
“The premier league is not that powerful. It appears to be on the surface, but it is not,” said a league member.
The member cited as an example Mabuza’s recent decision to fire three mayors in Mpumalanga, saying it showed that he was insecure about political opponents.
Mabuza had also fallen out with his deputy, David Dube, and provincial secretary, Lucky Ndinisa, who are linked to a slate opposed to Mabuza’s third-term campaign for the chairperson post of the ANC at a conference that is scheduled to be held later this year.
In North West, Mahumapelo was also facing internal rebellion from leaders of the party in the Bojanala region. They had rejected a decision by the province to reshuffle positions at one of the local municipalities.
But the youth league in North West on Wednesday said Maine’s campaign was being received “warmly” in other provinces, and there was “a willingness to join the ship”.