Zuma has a plan for youth
Piet Rampedi, Paddy Harper and Mandy Rossouw
Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma plans to dissolve the ANCYL's executive and replace it with a 25-member "interim leadership core", sources have told City Press.
Seven inside sources told the newspaper that Zuma will tell the national working committee, expected to meet on Monday, that the youth league cannot continue with its top leaders stuck in disciplinary hearings.
An interim structure is needed, he will argue.
The decision needs to be finalised by the national executive committee (NEC) which constitutionally has the power to disband any ANC structure.
Two youth leaders, an ANC national executive committee (NEC) member, a provincial leader and three well-placed sources close to Zuma’s allies said the ANC leader had been convinced by his confidants that he could no longer “co-exist” with Malema.
The plan included packing the interim structure with youth leaders purged or suspended by Malema from the league.
An ANC leader, who is neither sympathetic to Zuma nor Malema, said he was aware of the plan. “Malema is going to be suspended or expelled. Zuma’s people told him he needs to win or lose 2012 now.
“Zuma is clever and won’t contest the conference if he knows he’s going to lose. That is why he’s going for Malema.”
A provincial ANC leader added: “Zuma has been convinced that he can no longer co-exist with this boy [Malema]. It’s either him, as president of the ANC and the country, leading without being undermined or it’s Julius.”
Two youth leaders told City Press they had been approached about serving in the interim group in case Malema was suspended.
“The national working committee will check the relevance of the league’s leadership nationally because of what is happening in the country, such as the burning of flags, and make a final decision,” one youth leader said.
The sources said Malema’s nemesis Lehlogonolo Masoga was the initial favourite to lead the interim group, but had since been ruled out because he failed to appeal his dismissal from the league.
Gauteng league leader Lebogang Maile was no longer an option because the Zuma camp suspected him of having struck a deal with Malema.
This entailed Maile withdrawing from the league’s recent presidential race in exchange for the inclusion of his ally, ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile, in the league’s top six candidates as national chairperson at the 2012 conference at Mangaung.
For its part, the Malema camp has launched a counter-strategy that includes approaching former president Thabo Mbeki to stand for the position of ANC national chairperson to get rid of Zuma.
Two ANC sources in KwaZulu-Natal said they had heard rumours that the ANCYL and its backers had approached Mbeki to stand.
“We’ve heard that they have been talking to Mbeki to try get him to come back as chairperson to build the profile of their slate and add capacity,” said one source.
“This does seem to fit in with their comments around Mbeki’s presidency, the wearing of Mbeki T-shirts and the comparisons of the two presidents raised by the league.”
A source with knowledge of the discussions said that the league leadership will need to bring Mbeki’s nomination to the league NEC - where it will meet “massive resistance”.
“If they propose him, we won’t accept that . . . That man will bring back all the things that made us kick him out. We will reverse the gains of Polokwane.”
According to the source there are only three candidates for the national chairperson position - incumbent Baleka Mbete, Mashatile or Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
A Luthuli House official said it is clear the league is making overtures to Mbeki. “They are sending messages saying they will be the foot soldiers if he fights Zuma.”
There is doubt about whether Mbeki would accept such an offer.
“Mbeki is one of those people who have intelligence; I doubt he will soil his hands,” the official said.
Mbeki’s spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga told City Press he was not aware of approaches to Mbeki, who he understood was “out of South African politics for good”.