ANCYL task team: Tame ducks?

2013-04-21 10:00

Low key, relatively ­unknown, well educated with a day job and a member of the ANC or its youth league?

This could qualify you to be one of the 22-member crack team ­appointed by the governing party last week to fix its ailing league.

If you’ve had a fallout with former league leader Julius Malema, your chances of being chosen are even higher. Unusually, the ANC also demanded CVs from some before they were appointed.

The league was left without national leaders after the ANC’s announcement last month that it was to be disbanded. About four of the league’s nine provincial structures still exist in elected form – but only just. Some of these have elective conferences that are overdue.

The newly appointed national task team will have to mend all that.

League leaders in the provinces have expressed surprise at the announcement of the team, which contains no one with the crowd-pulling abilities of a Malema, or the ­foot-in-mouth tendencies of a Floyd Shivambu.

Journalists were left scrambling on Google to establish the pedigree of most of the members.

Existing league structures haven’t exactly welcomed the task team and they might be hard to convince to cooperate.

Said a “disillusioned” organiser in Gauteng: “Many of us are not going to be actively campaigning for the ANC next year (in the general elections). There’s actually a feeling of hopelessness.”

The new youth league national leadership is only due to be elected next year and it will be up to the task team to be the engine driving the ANC’s elections among very valuable first-time voters.

The multiracial nature of the task team means it could easily campaign head-to-head with the DA Youth, while the ages of the members – some are older than the league’s cut-off of 35 – indicate the task team is a mere stopgap.

So far, the team has been run from the ANC’s offices, and has been beholden to an okay from ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza before speaking to the media.

A press conference, scheduled for Tuesday, following the team’s first meeting last Saturday, was cancelled by Khoza, ostensibly for “technical” reasons.

The reality is the task team doesn’t know, as yet, where its money will come from and, with most of the members having serious day jobs, it’s unclear where they will find the time to do what they were appointed for: to revive league branches and structures by focusing on the “critical interests of young people” – including unemployment, education and skills.

Many also lack the savvy needed to navigate the political battlefield. Only about seven of the 22 are said to have any kind of practical ­experience of running a political ­organisation.

Says a provincial youth leader: “To be honest, this team is weak. The youth in SA are not what they think they are. The majority are from the townships and rural areas. If you get Model Cs, from where I am sitting, they are a small number, an insignificant number.”

It remains to be seen whether the task team will command enough clout to appeal to the league’s core constituency. There have been complaints from provincial leaders that the dissolution of the league and the appointment of the task team has turned the youth body into a toothless dog – a youth desk for the mother body that will be neither critical of the ANC nor attempt to be an autonomous power bloc in its own right.

But a member of the task team hit back: “Those who complain we are toothless are exactly the kind of people who want us to be toothless so that we cannot dissolve their province.”

Professor Clive Glaser, a Wits University political scientist, says: “I don’t see how they will not alienate the angry young man who supported Malema.”

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