Pule Mabe’s supporters say age is but a number

2014-11-30 15:00

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Supporters of ANC parliamentarian Pule Mabe haven’t given up hope that their candidate will become the next ANC Youth League president, despite talk that he was the biggest loser of the organisation’s postponed conference this week.

Mabe’s league membership was set to lapse when he turned 35 on March 29 next year, and the elective conference was only likely to happen in the middle of next year, league leaders said this week.

His main rivals for the position are ANC national task team coordinator Magasela Mzobe and former deputy president Ronald Lamola, who are 34 and 31, respectively.

Some caucuses this week discussed plans to amend the rules to push the age for membership to 40, but the issue did not make it into formal debate.

A Mabe backer said the rule that a youth leader remained in office until the next congress, even if he or she turned 35 during their term, should also be applied on branch level so that a 35-year-old’s membership only lapses at the branch’s annual general meeting after that member’s birthday.

This would enable Mabe to remain a member beyond his 35th birthday, which would qualify him for a leadership position.

“This should be clarified in the constitution,” he said.

Gauteng ANC Youth League chairperson Matome Chiloane, who has backed Mabe, said they would support Mabe if the conference was held before his 35th birthday, but branches would assess their options if the gathering was held after the end of March.

“It is not a view that one individual must stay. I’m saying that our support for Pule was based on political challenges of the organisation and the experiences he gained over time, so that is why we supported Pule.

“If the conference goes beyond the age bracket, we will not support him at all costs.”

In an interview with City Press, Mabe denied that he had put up his hand for league leadership.

He said “members of the youth league had started whispering here and there” and he had begun to pick up that whisper too.

“I had not at any given stage communicated my own take on the matter, and a platform like this one would have been a proper platform through which one might be able to communicate a view,” he said.

On the decision to postpone the elections, Mabe said that, as a member of the ANC’s national executive, he was bound to support the organisation’s decisions.

“One of the things we must never do, we must never at any given time link organisational responsibilities to our own personal wishes and interests.”

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