Zuma lashes out at ANCYL
Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League could not be separated from the ANC, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
Its name was not the ANC or ANCYL, he said, in a comment which could be a reference to the league's insistence that it was autonomous.
"It is the A-N-C-Youth-League," Zuma enunciated. The same applied to the Women's League.
"Emphasis... emphasis... emphasis," he said to chortling from the delegates.
The youth were meant to help the ANC become what it was supposed to be.
"It must use its energy and influence the ANC, and not the other way around."
The energy and innovation of the youth were vital to the ANC, but their ideas should be argued through the proper structures, he said.
"If you think you are right, pursue the argument correctly within the proper structures," he said, without mentioning the possible expulsion of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema from the party.
Normal for youth to be militant
He told delegates at the National Union of Metalworkers of SA's national political commission that it was normal for the youth to be militant. However, the ANCYL was a part of the ANC, and not a separate entity.
It should present ideas to the ANC itself and within ANC structures, and unless its proposals were accepted they were not ANC policy.
"You can make the noise 24 hours, the whole year, it doesn't change the path of history."
Zuma said he was once a militant youth league member and had been part of a plan to descend on Durban's old Smith and West streets to kill white people. They had been gossiping among themselves outside meetings and decided they would buy bush knives and descend on the two streets at about 11:00 on a Saturday when it was busy.
"We are going to butcher them... And the leaders will come and lead the revolution," Zuma recalled, during a speech that was off-the-cuff for much of the two hours it lasted. At the last minute they decided to tell ANC leaders they were about to start a revolution.
"Hey, these guys are planning to start a revolution with bush knives," he recalled of the conversation.
Youth make mistakes
However, the youths got such a tongue-lashing they slunk away and abandoned their plan. People made mistakes.
"If they don't make mistakes they are not the youth," he said.
Youths were vocal because of the problems the country faced. And if they felt they were right they should pursue their arguments correctly within the proper structures.
"But they must be disciplined," Zuma said.
The youth league was established because the ideas of the youth were important, he continued.
"They bring militancy, energy, energy, everything."
Former president Nelson Mandela was also very militant when he was younger, he said, but he had the gift of knowing what was incorrect before others realised it. He would meet a person for tea and discussions if there was a difference of opinion.
Peter Mokaba, a former ANCYL leader and also considered militant, would spend sleepless nights preparing documents he hoped would change the leadership's view on something.
"That's the way you do it," he said.
At the same time, he encouraged the union to get representation on the ANC's national executive committee so workers' ideas could be represented there.
"The fact that the leaders of the union are not on the NEC is a shortcoming. How do you influence policy when you are not at the centre [of where decisions are made]?"
On leaving, Zuma shook hands with people lining his path and his bodyguards gave delegates some leeway in allowing for quick poses for photographs.