Youth league squabbles over next ANC leader
Bitterly divided ANC Youth League groupings battled it out over who should succeed President Jacob Zuma as party leader during a sitting of its national executive committee (NEC) this weekend. The candidates forwarded are Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza.
Initially, there was consensus among the league’s officials that the young lions would throw their weight behind Dlamini-Zuma, who allegedly enjoys the support of the president, but that appears no longer to be the case.
Earlier this year, youth league president Collen Maine told the international media that the candidates being tipped for the top job – Dlamini-Zuma and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa – “have been part of the system” that the youth league wanted to change. He said the country would be “shocked” by the candidate they would endorse.
City Press understands that a group that includes Maine and the league’s deputy president, Desmond Moela, will push for Mabuza during this weekend’s NEC sitting. All indications are that secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza and treasurer-general Reggie Nkabinde are still firmly behind Dlamini-Zuma.
However, some within the youth league have warned that support for Mabuza could indirectly be support for Ramaphosa. This grouping says that Mabuza has been in talks with Ramaphosa’s lobbyists to see if he could be accommodated on that slate.
The final decision on who will ultimately get the youth league’s endorsement is expected to be made by today. The NEC meeting started at Saint George Hotel in Pretoria yesterday, with day one having been an extended sitting to which regional chairpersons and secretaries had been invited.
Tensions between the officials of the youth league are nothing new, with a cold war of sorts having started shortly after the election of these officials in 2015.
It is understood that the appointment of Sifiso Mtsweni as chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) had added more fuel to the fire. His appointment is seen as a victory for the Nzuza camp after the Maine camp failed to secure the position for Moela, who withdrew at the eleventh hour. The withdrawal came despite the dumbing down of academic requirements for the position, which was supposed to pave the way for Moela, who did not possesses the initially required qualifications. Sources say that the Maine grouping preferred Ndumiso Mokako as chairperson of NYDA following Moela’s withdrawal, with Joy Maimela as his deputy. Neither of them got the posts.
“The fight in recent months has been [about] the appointment of Mtsweni to the NYDA board. Also remember that Moela was promised a position if he backed down. There was talk of an MEC position, but nothing has come from that,” an insider said.
This week, some youth league NEC members said they would fight tooth and nail to ensure that Dlamini-Zuma came out on top at the end of this weekend’s meeting.
“There [are] some who want [Mabuza]. Those who are buying into it have been [met with] hostility and the mood will be the same at the NEC. Remember, there was a time when Collen and them tried to get rid of Nzuza and Reggie. They ... could try to impose Mabuza, but they won’t succeed,” one member told City Press.
Despite these claims, Maine told City Press this week that he maintained his position that South Africa’s next president should be a woman.
The youth league is a voting structure of the ANC. Although its delegation is not sizable at the conference itself, it can provide a crucial platform for its preferred candidate in the run-up to the conference.
Other names expected to come up to fill the other five positions of the ANC’s top six include Fikile Mbalula, Nathi Mthethwa, Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte.
The youth league has for some time been advocating for an additional deputy secretary-general to be added to the officials’ numbers. Nzuza this week told City Press that the league would take that cause to the ANC’s policy conference at the end of this month. He admitted that it would be a tough battle given that they would need two thirds of the conference to side with them.
They also want the policy conference to endorse free education and implement it. Other demands include the explosive matter of land expropriation without compensation through the amendment of the Constitution and the scrapping of experience as a requirement for entry-level jobs.