The next ANCYL leader?

By Drum Digital
01 September 2010

THE setting is upmarket capitalist Jozi: the glitzy business and shopping precinct against the Sandton skyline; the gleaming cars in the parking lot; the designer outfits on groomed shoppers.. It’s the perfect place to meet one of the rising stars of the ANC Youth League – because, let’s face it, the guys who run this organisation aren’t exactly strangers to the high life.

And when Lebogang Mailewalks across the cobbled street to our table at a sidewalk café, he certainly fits the bill with his imported top-of-the-range watch and the high-end cellphone that never stops ringing. But when the 31-year-old newly elected chairman of the Gauteng region’s ANCYL sits down he seems rather less sure of himself than you’d expect.He eyes me nervously, as if he’s sizing me up, and constantly tugs at the sleeve of his jacket to cover the steel and rubber strap of his Panerai watch (which, incidentally, goes for between R30 000 and R146 000 and is favoured by celebs such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger).

I’m tempted to ask him about the timepiece but, remembering the hullaballoo that erupted when sworn opponent Julius Malema admitted to wearing a R250 000 Breitling watch, I decide against it. I don’t want to alienate the guy before the interview – the first he has granted since his election – has even begun. So we make small talk, discussing the weather and what to eat. Eventually he orders the lamb and a milkshake and starts to talk – and it’s politics, politics, politics almost all the way.

Lebogang’s appointment to the league’s top job in Gauteng – the richest and most powerful of SA’s provinces – was a serious blow to Malema. He’d wanted his ally, Thabo Kupa, to win the election, as his appointment ment would have helped him in his campaign to become ANCYL president for a second term. But Lebogang is in another camp: he’s a close ally of Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile and makes no secret of the fact Malema is no friend of his.

However, he deftly avoids being drawn into a discussion about his controversial colleague. “Oh no,” he says. “It’s premature to talk about Julius’ replacement. The youth league is facing many problems. Talking about leadership now will only defocus us.”

Lebogang lives in a townhouse nearby but he shunned our suggestion to meet him there. Neither did he want us to see him at his office at the Gauteng legislature, where he is an MPL. It’s too distracting, he said; there is too much going on. His noisy cellphone is pretty distracting too, until he eventually switches it off.

Read the full article in DRUM of 9 September 2010

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