ANCYL 'a necessary pain' for ANC
Thaba Nchu - ANC national executive member and Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula, has bemoaned attempts to silence the ANC Youth League, saying the youth wing was a necessary pain for the ruling party.
“The ANCYL changed the ANC and shaped its ideology... it is a necessary pain to the ANC,” Mbalula told a crowd at a mini-rally organised by the league in Thaba Nchu outside Bloemfontein, as part of a programme for the ANC’s centenary celebrations.
Mbalula said the youth league was an autonomous and militant organisation of the ANC.
“Those who want to change the character of the youth league and make it something else must go and propose those changes in its constitution of the ANC in Mangaung" (where the ANC will elect new leaders later this year).
Mbalula remarked that former ANC president Alfred Xuma was removed from power when he refused to listen to the youth league.
Xuma was ANC president between 1940 and 1949 but was ousted when he fell out of favour with Nelson Mandela's ANC Youth League by flatly refusing to support its proposal for militant action.
He was replaced by a youth league-endorsed candidate from Thaba Nchu, James Moroka, who joined the party only hours before his election.
“He showed them the door in a disciplined manner at a conference. Moroka was elected president because he agreed to the militant programme of action,” said Mbalula.
“The ANCYL has never been a drum majorette; it has been a militant organisation of the ANC.”
Mbalula is not the first to speak of the power that the youth league possesses.
Last year, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale warned the ANC leadership not to underestimate the power and influence of youth wing president Julius Malema and his executive.
Mbalula spoke of how misunderstood Mandela was while he was president of the youth league.
“People think to be a good leader you must sing praises and not raise issues. Other presidents were there before Julius but it was as if they were never there because they did not bother to raise anything.”
He said he also had a hard time in his tenure because like Malema, he raised issues that made people very uncomfortable.
The reward was being called a hooligan, he said.
Mbalula said Malema was being turned into a monster by the media, with his face constantly splashed on newspapers.
“Julius is papagai (parrot). Ba rata go dlala ka ena (they like to make him a fool).
He warned members not to believe what they read in newspapers because the media was the enemy.
He also lashed out at “bo marata helele” (sources) who sneaked around and gave information to the media.
The issue of the league's autonomy was raised during discussions at the Polokwane elective conference held in December last year.
Delegates said the league should be able to debate policy questions and leadership matters without fear or favour.
They also wanted a "political solution" to the suspensions of six ANCYL officials, including Malema, for ill-discipline and bringing the party into disrepute.
Such a solution would ease tensions between the ruling party and the league. Malema and his executive plan to reverse the "harsh" suspensions meted out to them by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee in November last year.
The appeal process was still underway although it had been expected to be finalised before the centenary celebrations.
Malema had a tilt at "the enemy" [the media] earlier on Friday for wrongly predicting that he would not make it to the ANC's centenary celebrations as his appeal against his suspension would fail.
"We have defeated the enemy. The enemy said we will not be in Mangaung. We are in Mangaung," he said at a mini-rally in Thaba Nchu in the Free State.
The "enemy" was now focusing on whether or not he would be given an opportunity to address the crowds when President Jacob Zuma delivered his January 8 statement on Sunday.
"I am in Mangaung and I am speaking now. There has never been a year in which the league speaks. We stand, greet people and sit down. They must not confuse greeting with speaking," Malema said to thunderous applause from the crowd in the packed hall of the Moroka high school.
"President Zuma will speak on behalf of all of us. He was elected, whether we like him or not."
The league has made it clear that it wants Zuma replaced with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Mbalula to take over as secretary-general from Gwede Mantashe.