This is how the ANC does things, Zuma tells Youth League

2012-02-23 11:31

President Jacob Zuma took a swipe at the current ANC Youth League, saying its predecessors always lobbied support within the ANC and never publicly attacked its leadership.

Addressing the National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s political commission in Johannesburg today, he said the ANC took a decision to establish the youth league as it believed that it would bring militance to the party, but qualified that by saying the league was meant to use its energy for the ANC.

“It’s not a youth league which is out there as a spare wheel of the ANC. It is an intergral part of the ANC. That’s why its constitution must be informed by the ANC constitution ... its activities must be subordinate to the ANC activities,” he said.

He said the “militancy” of the earlier generation of youth leaders did not include swearing at the ANC leaders or singing songs about them.

“Those who formed the ANC were lawyers and doctors. They were clear about what they were trying to do.

“They understood how to work with the ANC. One of the major things they did was to write a document called ‘The programme of action’, which was adopted by their conference, but it could not be said that that was ANC policy,” he said.

Zuma is at loggerheads with the ANCYL leadership, which has accused the ANC of downplaying the contribution of the youth to the liberation struggle.

They have also accused Zuma’s leadership of using disciplinary action to supress their call for the nationalisation of mines.

Zuma said former ANC youth leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo debated issues within the organisation.

“These youth leaguers were part of the debates within the ANC ... you can’t quote a single meeting where they stood in Alexandra or somewhere ... Because they were a part of it, they never alienated themselves,” Zuma said.

He said as a youth he was once part of a grouping in the 1960s who were agitating for a revolution in Durban.

“(We said) because Smith Street and West Street are predominantly white and on Saturday the city is packed, let us buy bush knives and butcher them and disappear,” he said, adding that the plan was foiled by the party leadership when they got whiff of it.

He said the youth should listen to its elders, and pursue debates within proper structures if it is persuaded that its position is correct.

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