Grandkids of league founders root for Malema

2011-06-18 17:11

Two weeks ago, Theodora Kingston (21), the granddaughter of Oliver Tambo, decided to join the ANC Youth League.

“I think it is part of me believing in the future of South Africa and knowing the ANC is the only ones that can deliver that future. I appreciate how much my grandparents believed in the ANC and why.

“And I now see it as my responsibility, not as a Tambo but as a young South African, to begin to serve my country through the youth league.”

Walter Sisulu’s grandson Ziyeka (21) is also a member of the league “because it speaks to all youth in South Africa.

We have a strong voice. It’s not a black voice, it’s not a communist voice, it’s a South African voice. And that’s what we all are before we are league members: we are South Africans.”

They both believe that today’s youth league is a replica of the organisation started in 1944, a political movement agitating for change.

“The only difference is that now we are fighting an economic battle,” says Neo Mda, the grandson of AP Mda and son of writer Zakes Mda, “whereas my grandfather and those around him were fighting for liberation and the freedom of the people.

“And somehow, this youth league is doing the right job. It is a vocal organisation that speaks its mind and doesn’t just follow instructions from its master.”

It is on that point that Sisulu junior, the son of Zwelakhe, expresses slight discomfort, though he chooses his words carefully.

“We have a mother party – the ANC – and they are like our parents. And we have to be careful about how we speak about our them. That’s a problem we are working on to solve,” he says.

However, in the next breath he claps the newly re-elected president, Julius Malema, on the back saying “our grandfathers wanted to make a difference and that’s what the league is doing today.”

“Julius Malema is a disliked person,” adds Mda. “But it is because he is militant and says things that make people uncomfortable, but they are things that need to be said.”

His grandfather, AP Mda, did likewise in his day but as a staunch African ­nationalist he left the ANC to start the PAC.

His grandson has since returned to the fold of the liberation movement, though at 38 he belongs to the mother party rather than its youth wing.

“I feel Malema and the league represents the views of many young people,” says Kingston, the daughter of Tembi Tambo, SA’s ambassador to Hong Kong.

“They know and see the suffering of people and see the need to free them from that economic suffering. As youth, it is our responsibility to draw attention to these issues,” she adds.

As he starts out on his second term, Malema promises not only to draw attention to economic suffering but to win the battle on economic freedom.

“As long as the battle does not just benefit the leaders but the youth as a whole, it would make sense,” Mda argues.

Though Sisulu backed Malema for a second term, he says he also believes strongly in the need for competition at the level of leadership.

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