‘#FeesMustFall is treason’
ANC Youth League president pays tribute to his Premier League mentor and outlines election plans
ANC Youth League president Collen Maine says South Africa’s intelligence agencies should probe the #FeesMustFall movement, claiming it is part of a “counter-revolutionary” movement bent on overthrowing government. Speaking just a week after he and leaders of the Young Communist League and the SA Students’ Congress called on students to call off their protests, Maine accused the #FeesMustFall body of having ulterior agendas. He told City Press that #FeesMustFall, which has been driving the four-month-old nationwide university protests, was meant to be a campaign and not a movement. He called on the State Security Agency to do its job and look into who was supporting the “highly funded” movement.
“The so-called #FeesMustFall movement is highly funded, so who is funding them? Whoever is funding them is counter-revolutionary. State security should be looking into that because these people are very dirty. They know how to operate; they will not deposit money into your account.
He added: “They know how to bring cash to you, but it is the responsibility of state security to deal with that ... One of the realities is there are pockets of people who are very impatient with the ANC and the democratic government, as you saw during the #ZumaMustFall campaign.”
He found parallels with the #FeesMustFall movement and a recent spate of racist incidents in the country.
“The #FeesMustFall campaign and racism – it is all one thing, and has the intent to overthrow a democratically elected government of the people. “These counter-revolutionary forces can’t win democratically. Hence, you see the old flags representing apartheid, which goes to the issue of racism. It has begun to raise its ugly head in our country,” said Maine.
He also opened up about his close ties with North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, saying the latter had made him the political leader he is today.
“What you must write when you write a story is that there is one leader who has made me who I am, and his name is Supra Mahumapelo. If you want to call him Premier League, it is fine, but he has made me who I am politically,” Maine said during a brief sit-down on the sidelines of the ANC’s three-day lekgotla in Pretoria.
Since entering office four months ago, Maine and his newly elected leadership have come under fire for various reasons, including allegations that Maine landed his position by having close ties with the so-called Premier League – made up of the ANC premiers of North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State.
Maine was appointed North West local government MEC by Mahumapelo in 2014.
Maine disputed suggestions that he and his leadership were controlled by the Premier League, saying this would be a betrayal of the 4 000 delegates who had elected them in September.
He admitted to a long-standing relationship with Muhamapelo, who had earlier backed him for the position of chairperson of the league.
“Unfortunately, in the world of politics there are other things I cannot talk to you about, which he [Mahumapelo] and I have gone through, and it is through him that I was able to hold on and be who I am today. So I will always respect that comrade.”
On the ANC’s succession debate, Maine said that although the ANC had barred those within its ranks from speaking about it, the league was not going to be a spectator as the race unfolded. “We will have a very strong voice,” he said. He did give a hint as to who they would not be supporting.
“What we will pursue is the constitution of the ANC. It says any member of the ANC can elect and be elected. If there is some history that if you were whatever you can automatically proceed, thina [us] we are not driving automatic cars. We are driving the constitution.
“There may be some precedents, but some precedents are wrong. We will not fall into traps of precedence; we will apply the constitution,” said Maine, alluding to the fact that ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascension should not be a foregone conclusion.
At the Cosatu congress in December last year, a number of affiliates endorsed Ramaphosa on the basis of precedence that the deputy should become president.
Maine said the the youth league’s harsh criticism of Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande had nothing to do with his role as general secretary of the SA Communist Party (SACP). Nzimande and the SACP have, without mentioning names, been vocal about the emergence of factions such as the Premier League.
Maine says their gripe was about Nzimande’s failure to implement free education for the poor. He added that tensions between his organisation and the Young Communist League (YCL) had also been patched up. “You would know the youth league has not been there for some time. The YCL then occupied that space of leading the youth alliance. What we have emphasised is that the youth league is back and we have to occupy our rightful place in terms of leading the youth alliance.”
On local government elections, Maine said they had recognised that the key to winning would be to identify metros and strategic cities, and campaign fiercely there.
“We have adopted a programme because, if you look at the opposition, particularly the DA, they are targeting big municipalities, metros and cities.”