Suspensions indict the ANC more than its youth league

2011-11-12 09:44

A strong and robust culture of debate has always existed in the ANC, and it is this ability that has made the party strong in its almost 100 years of existence.

We shouldn’t forget that the ANC Youth League was established to “give force, direction and vigour to the struggle for African national freedom by assisting, supporting and reinforcing the national movement – the ANC – and studying the political, economical and social problems of Africa and the world”.

The youth league has successfully fashioned itself an identity as a militant and radical organisation, broadening the mass character of the ANC and denuding it of its founding elitist, lawful organisation.

Throughout its history, the league has made mistakes – some very serious – and its leaders have frequently been in trouble.

Nelson Mandela, a former youth league and ANC president, has recorded various incidents in which he was the victim of the wrath of the ANC leadership, who at the time thought he was “reckless”.

Successive generations of league members have been the subject of debate in the movement about the appropriateness of their conduct. In 1979, while in London, the late Oliver Tambo had to talk the youth section out of its planned protests to a visit by Mangosuthu Buthelezi for his acceptance of black homelands.

Inaugural president Nelson Mandela had to give serial lectures to former youth league presidents Peter Mokaba and Lulu Johnson on the tactical mistakes they made and how these mistakes cost the ANC. The youth league gave former president Thabo Mbeki a torrid time, too.

There is not a single ANC president and his national executive committee (NEC) who have not had run-ins with the youth league – from Alfred Xuma to Jacob Zuma.Young people are almost inherently seditious.

In order to effect change, they employ their creativity, daring and energy.In its 2007 strategy and tactics document, the ANC says a nation’s success depends on the ability to “encourage, harness and incorporate” youthful qualities into their endeavours.

But an absence of guidance in conduct leads to a struggle between discipline and disobedience.

In the past, the organisation always proactively ensured that it trained and inducted its members, particularly newer and younger ones.

This is an area in which the ANC has been found wanting in recent years.The quest for one million members has resulted in the collapse of political education and training.

This growth in numbers of ANC members will be inextricably linked to more discipline problems.Some NEC members say the youth’s “mangling” of liberation politics suggests the mother body has abdicated the responsibility of growing its own timber.

For the national disciplinary committee of the ANC to now say that youth league members don’t understand its policies is more an indictment of itself than of the young leaders.

» Mohale is an ANC and youth league member from the Free State 

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.