AGE CATCHES UP WITH NKABINDE IN YOUTH LEAGUE
ANC Youth League (ANCYL) treasurer Reggie Nkabinde’s chances of clinching the league’s presidential seat have become slimmer as he may no longer meet the cut-off age to stand for the post if the league’s national congress is held later this year, after the general elections.
Nkabinde’s looming misery opens the door for other contenders to emerge – notably, Thanduxolo Sabelo and Mcebo Dlamini.
The conference was set to take place at the end of last year, but the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee, decided to postpone the much-anticipated gathering until after the polls to enable the party to focus all its resources on the election campaign.
National elections will be held sometime in May; the date is yet to be announced.
Nkabinde, who currently serves as the youth league’s treasurer-general, had thrown his hat in the ring for the top job, facing off with Sabelo. The two were later joined by #FeesMustFall activist Dlamini, who is less known within the structures of the league.
Nkabinde turns 35 in May, which means that if the conference does not take place before his birthday, his youth league membership will lapse, eliminating him from the race.
The youth league’s Constitution reads as follows: “Members shall join the ANCYL only once, and membership shall lapse when a person turns 35 years old, is expelled following disciplinary proceedings, loses his or her South African citizenship, resigns from the youth league in writing to the organisation, passes away, and/or if, after an annual membership audit or review, it is found that such a member has not paid his/her annual subscriptions for up to three months.”
Lobbyists from Nkabinde’s campaign have told City Press that they are already looking at alternative candidates to contest against Sabelo.
Among the favourites to be backed is Mpumalanga’s provincial secretary, Pholoso Mbatsane, who is currently on the Nkabinde slate as secretary-general.
Responding in writing to questions by City Press, Nkabinde said he would not be bowing out of the race, adding that he was unaware of any decision having been taken regarding the youth league conference being held after elections.
“I am not aware that the conference will be sitting after May. I have attended all meetings; I do not remember the youth league taking a decision of that nature. Don’t worry about the age factor; I am a member of the youth league, so I understand our Constitution very well – and I respect it, for that matter,” Nkabinde said.
Current youth league president Collen Maine has come under fire since he was elected just months before he turned 35. His age was the butt of many jokes this week, particularly from former youth league president Fikile Mbalula.
Mbalula had previously told City Press that he believed that youth league members needed to choose young leaders who could finish their terms before turning 35.
This week, the youth league paid tribute to its late former president, Peter Mokaba, who would have turned 60 on Monday. President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the keynote address, lauding the young lions in KwaZulu-Natal for pulling off a successful event.
Maine was left red-faced as the hundreds who gathered were mostly uninterested in what he had to say, opting to engage in sideline chats while he spoke.
Supporters of Sabelo are claiming that Ramaphosa’s presence at Mokaba’s memorial service signalled an official endorsement of his campaign. Sabelo laughed off the claim but said that, if anything, the endorsement was for the good work that the youth league had done in the province.
“What I can tell you about the rally is that the president acknowledged that the KwaZulu-Natal youth league was doing a good job for the ANC, and said he was happy about the work we are doing. He also called on other provinces to emulate what the ANCYL in KwaZulu-Natal is doing,” Sabelo said.
Mbatsane said he had not yet decided whether to contest for the presidency but had been asked to stand as secretary-general. He defended the youth league’s current leaders, saying that people had been “too harsh” on them as they had inherited a chaotic situation.
Maine’s youth league came into being after the expulsion of its former president, Julius Malema, a decision Mbatsane believes was the wrong one taken by the mother body. However, he admitted that the current league “could have done more” with their term.