Eyes at the ANC-not-so-young-anymore League

2015-09-08 05:17

Looking at the ANC-not-so-young-anymore League

If anything, 25th congress of the ANCYL was marked by surprises. This is not just by names of the underdogs that emerged uncontested but by the confidence that branches had in these late-bloomers that emerged out of nowhere. The icing on the cake was on the age of the league president, Collen Maine. This had people talking the entire weekend. What was even interesting was the fact that Maine was just a couple of weeks away from reaching the age limit of 35, meaning now that he has emerged, he will stay president until he is 38. This congress was not just another usual congress but a special one for a number of reasons. Firstly because the ANCYL is without doubt, the most influential youth movement in South Africa. Secondly because this is a preparatory school of the ruling party and lastly this movement has been on standby for a while. The political void in youth politics had to be filled and postponement was no option this time around. The congress saw over 2500 delegates from all over South Africa, each representing their respective branches under the theme ‘rebuilding a unite and radical ANCYL for the advancement of economic freedom in South Africa’. I found the theme to be extremely pertinent given the current political conjuncture. It certainly held a lot of gravitas and substance given the current socio-economic status of this country in general and amongst the youth in particular. Like many young people, it came as interesting surprise to me to see the new leadership emerging over names such as Pule Mabe and Ronald Lamola.  It was more interesting to see branches rally behind an almost 35 (34 years and 9 months) year old as a president of the league. It surely has a possible downside and most certainly comes with a lot of possible pitfalls and most made their points with regard to this. I for some reason found myself seeing a positive side to this. For some reason I reckoned that Maine’s age might be a blessing in disguise. Having been born around 1980, his maturity can be used to transfer his savvy self and shrewd political experiences to his collective and broad constituency of banches. We can even argue to say not all old leaders come with an intransigent nature of doing things and Maine appears to be a calm leader, hopefully he is also a humble one who listens. Challenges in rebuilding the league

Maine’s collective is tasked with a mammoth responsibility of resuscitating the Youth League from this deep and dire state of inactiveness. Over and above rebuilding the league, they need to ensure that they fight against the league being reduced into a vehicle of self-enrichment and overnight fortunes. They need to guard against the league being employed as a rail for trains of factional battles asnd personal glory. They need to fight against the league being used as a platform for cadre adulation and personality cult.

They need to take it back to basics. They have to take it to where politics of the Youth League resonate with demands of the youth of South Africa. They must take their programmes from meaningless stadium festivals and align them to a progressive direction that resonates with aspirations of young people, from high schools to varsities, from townships to informal settlements. It cannot be correct to mould the league into conference slate and faction machinery which is always lured by black plastic bags into fighting personal battles. The league was not formed as an adulation platform and sponsored praise-singing body but machinery oiled for the purpose of echoing relevant youth matters to the ANC. With 8 million unemployed people who are mostly young people, we need Maine’s collective to speak job creation and empowerment. With the ridiculous cost of education in SA, we need the YL to speak transformation in our country. We need to see creation of a pool of opportunities for our people. We hope that this is not a De Javu of another Cubana and Kong movement that is going to splash expensive champagne in the faces of poor young South Africans. We hope Maine’s almost over aged collective will put their age to good use and echo our frustrations to the mother body. We hope our marginalized young people will now have a political Moses to lead them into the promised land of equal opportunities and empowerment.

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