Youth League leadership battle

2018-02-04 06:00
Thanduxolo Sabelo

Thanduxolo Sabelo

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The gloves are off in the battle to find the successor of ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Collen Maine.

Early indications were given by the league’s KwaZulu-Natal secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo and current treasurer-general Reggie Nkabinde that they would be willing to throw their hats in the ring. ANCYL national executive committee (NEC) member Ndumiso Mokako has joined them.

Supporters of Nkabinde and Sabelo are already embroiled in a war of words. Nkabinde’s lobbyists labelled the KwaZulu-Natal leader an “empty vessel”. His camp called Nkabinde a “non-starter”.

Sabelo allegedly had the backing of Maine, who is understood to have long ago indicated his preference for Sabelo to succeed him. Nkabinde’s lobbyists alleged that Maine had set out to disband the Gauteng provincial executive committee (PEC), after its chairman Matome Chiloane openly backed Nkabinde.

The league’s officials have been divided between supporting Maine and his deputy Desmond Moela on the one hand; and secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza and Nkabinde on the other.

The final date for the elective conference is expected to be decided when the league’s NEC meets next weekend.

Mokako is from Mpumalanga and is the former chairperson of the SA Students’ Congress in Gauteng. His supporters say he earned his stripes during the disbandment of the ANCYL following the presidency of Julius Malema. They said he “kept the fires burning” in the absence of a league.

Mokako told City Press he could not speak about his availability for the top job yet, because the league had not yet given the formal go-ahead to do so. He said he had always served where the ANC had asked him to.

“It is very important that we put our energies into reviving the ANCYL, which has always played a very important role in the ANC, especially in difficult times. We have not been able to play this part in recent years, because the youth league has been paralysed by a compromised leadership and problematic officials,” he said.

Mokako’s supporters claimed he had the blessing of ANC deputy president David Mabuza.

Sabelo said he too was waiting for official permission from the league to announce his candidacy. He denied reports this week that quoted him as saying he was not available for the position. Sabelo said he was misquoted.

“What I will say is that I have been in every structure of the youth league, from branch level, for more than 10 years now. I have never jumped any level of the league and I have never refused to be sent anywhere where the branches of the league have asked me to go,” he said.

ANCYL KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Kwazi Mshengu told City Press that a sitting of his PEC last weekend resolved to back Sabelo’s bid for the presidency.

“As the chairperson, I have been mandated to go and engage other provinces to inform them of our decision and get their views as well.”

Nkabinde’s lobbyists said they already had pockets of support in Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. They said they would reach out to the Congress of SA Students, where Nkabinde served previously, to “activate those networks”.

Nkabinde told City Press he was waiting for the NEC to discuss the conference.

“When structures of the youth league say I must lead, who am I to say no? Wherever the movement sends me, I will go.”

Meanwhile, outspoken NEC member Thembi Siweya cautioned against ANC factions, that emerged at the party’s elective conference last year, playing themselves out in the youth league’s succession race. These had to be dismantled.

“We must encourage our leaders to study and be exemplary. Young people must desist from using the name of comrade president Cyril Ramaphosa. He has never anointed any young person and he will not be doing that. He respects and understands congress traditions, including those of the leagues.

“Young people must engage with fellow young people and decide on their leader,” she said.

Read more on:    nec  |  ancyl

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