The ANC Professionals' League (ANCPL) says, since it launched its application page online two days ago, close to 700 people have applied for membership.
The organisation is hoping to officially become one of the ANC's structures, representing the middle class and working professionals alongside the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), ANC Women's League (ANCWL) and the Veterans' League.
One of its founders, Thulane Ngubane, told News24 that the ANCPL would be a space for people who never saw relevance in the youth and women's leagues.
"We have testimonies from people saying this is long overdue. It's the only way to go and that they wish they could have a voice within their own organisation," Ngubane said to News24.
In a statement this week, the ANCPL announced that it had sent documents to secretary general Ace Magashule to "indicate the intention to organise professionals and academics under the banner of the ANC".
Ngubane said the structure would serve people who couldn't find room to participate in the "orthodox branch system of the ANC", adding that they wouldn't be able to find the time to make a meaningful contribution in a traditional branch set up.
"[The] majority of the people we've received are new members, with no links to branches or leagues. These are people who need a space to participate and who never saw relevance in the ANCYL or in the ANCWL," said Ngubane.
However, the move was met with mixed reactions on social media. Numerous ANC members called it fraud and nonsense, claiming it could not be linked to the political party because it was not a conference resolution.
Ngubane responded and said those who did not see a need for a professionals' league did not understand the ANC's recent history.
"Those are people who are not honest with themselves, in terms of where the ANC comes from… we come from an area where we lost Nelson Mandela Bay metro, we lost Tshwane. We are an ANC after the local government elections were being painted as a rural party, where professionals were referred to as clever blacks," said Ngubane.
Some critics also said the ANC already had the progressive professionals' forum (PPF) and that there was no need for a similar forum.
"Tell me, how many members does the PPF have? Tell me about their programmes, their work within the broader ANC. Where was the PPF when we lost all those metros?" he asked.
"[The] president of the PPF has been engulfed in the whole Guptas scenario. I don't know how many professionals would want to associate with such," Ngubane said about PPF leader Mzwanele Manyi.
He said the founding members of the professionals' league would approach the ANC top six to share their vision with them.
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