Limpopo premier defends youth league
Carien du Plessis, City Press
Polokwane - Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale has come out in defence of the beleaguered ANC Youth League by saying corrective measures against its leaders should not be “draconian”.
He also called for disciplinary action to be applied even-handedly.
Mathale has become one of the few senior ANC leaders to speak out in defence of the league following the five-year suspension of its leader, Julius Malema.
Malema’s appeal against this suspension is expected to be heard within the next few weeks.
“Disciplinary action must not be abused for that will cause and promote factionalism whilst eroding important elements of unity and cohesion,” he said on Saturday in his political report to about 1 000 delegates attending the ANC’s Limpopo conference just outside Polokwane.
Mathale supported the league’s call for internal disciplinary action to be applied even-handedly.
“We must never take advantage of our positions or influence in the movement by using important instruments which are meant to contribute towards the building of a strong organisation to achieve narrow political interests,” he said.
Mathale also said the ANC should give the league “the necessary space to think on its own and to articulate its views without any fear or prejudice”.
He said the ANC should not “sponsor” the league with ideas, but it must generate its own.
“Where the youth league has committed grave mistakes, corrective measures must be employed to show them the way, but not measures draconian.
"It is not in our best interest to have the youth league that cannot bring new ideas in the ANC.
"We must not attempt to redefine the militant character for the youth league,” he said.
He also said the league’s role of “determining the outcomes of political meetings in the organisation” should not be “eroded or frustrated”.
The league has previously expressed its support for Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula to take over from incumbent secretary general Gwede Mantashe as part of a leadership that would oust President Jacob Zuma.
Many have interpreted Malema’s suspension to have been an attempt by Zuma to silence the league.
Mathale also said the league’s call for the nationalisation of the country’s mines - which he said was historically part of the ANC’s call - should not be silenced.
“The youth league must not be condemned or called names for speaking the language of the ANC,” he said.
“We must acknowledge that the role and challenges of the youth league are bigger than they were before.”
Malema sat in the front row on stage on Saturday, next to senior provincial and national ANC leaders.
He arrived at the conference leading a group of people singing Mathale’s praises and singing mocking songs about Zuma’s 2006 rape trial remarks about taking a shower after sex to prevent the spread of Aids.