Political critique is at the heart of autonomy

According to the ­constitution of the ruling ANC, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) is indeed an autonomous body with its own constitution and rules.

The reason this point has to be asserted is some members of the ANC alliance, particularly the South African Communist Party (SACP), appear to be questioning this right to autonomy.

General secretary of the SACP Blade Nzimande ­dismissed the notion of ANCYL autonomy vis-à-vis the ANC.

It was interesting to see that this came soon after the ANC and deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe said that the ANCYL was an autonomous body.

While the right to autonomy is abundantly clear in the Constitution, what is not clear are the grounds for questioning or ­rejecting such autonomy.

It’s intriguing how questioning the right to autonomy of the ANCYL emerges not only with its demand for the nationalisation of mines, but also appears to be a political and discursive reaction to it.

When was the right to autonomy of the ­ANCYL so strongly questioned before?

We must, firstly, acknowledge such a right and then draw a distinction between it and any differences critics may have with the ANCYL over the combustible question of nationalisation or the often unruly and disrespectful behaviour of its leaders.

While it does not have a right to the latter, it certainly does have a right to the former – the right to differ with the parent body, the ANC, and/or its allies.

In fact, it is arguable that the right to have policy or other differences with the ANC lies at the heart of the ANCYL’s autonomy.

And though the ANCYL is not an ally – like Cosatu and the SACP – this cannot mean that its right to differ is diminished.

The right of the ANCYL to differ with the ANC is important precisely because the ANC is so dominant. Key issues are ­debated and resolved inside the party.

Nzimande and others must ­desist from the cheap politics of using constitutionalism (though misguided) to smother opposition and debate in the ANC.

A genuine communist party would defend the right of the ANCYL to differ, not look for constitutional loopholes to suppress the right to debate.

» Harvey is writing the ­authorised ­political biography of deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
As a child or as an adult, have you ever been a victim of bullying?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, at school
55% - 4035 votes
Yes, at work
18% - 1292 votes
No, I've never experienced this
27% - 2005 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.28
(+0.3)
GBP/ZAR
19.84
(-0.1)
EUR/ZAR
17.21
(+0.4)
AUD/ZAR
11.06
(+0.2)
JPY/ZAR
0.13
(+0.2)
Gold
1,785.93
(-0.4)
Silver
26.38
(-0.6)
Platinum
1,208.25
(-0.8)
Brent Crude
65.32
(-1.9)
Palladium
2,859.16
(-0.8)
All Share
67,000
(-0.2)
Top 40
61,215
(-0.3)
Financial 15
12,128
(+0.0)
Industrial 25
86,720
(-0.0)
Resource 10
68,752
(-0.7)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo