AFRICANGLOBE – The African National Congress (ANC) Youth League — a critical part of the ANC’s machinery in next year’s elections — is weak in at least seven of the country’s nine provinces, the league’s interim leadership says.
The youth body’s national task team, appointed in April, on Monday dissolved the league’s structures in four provinces and 27 regions.
Three other provinces were already under interim management. Leaders in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape emerged unscathed.
The disbandment could be seen as part of a trend which has already seen President Jacob Zuma’s opponents being removed from positions of power in the ANC.
The head of the youth league’s national task team, Mzwandile Masina, said on Monday at a media briefing that the league’s structures in North West, the Northern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State had been dissolved.
The task team was appointed to replace the league’s national executive committee — then seen to be “ill-disciplined”.
The youth league was folded together with the ANC in Limpopo — and later three regions in the province followed. Limpopo and the youth league formed the core of the opposition to Jacob Zuma’s re-election in Mangaung.
The youth league is expected to play a key role in mobilising young people to support the ANC.
In the 2009 general elections, the youth league led campaigns that involved new ways of attracting young people — including the introduction of bikers dressed in ANC colours, buy-and-braai activation campaigns, as well as ANC T-shirts branded with “bling” glitter.
Young people, particularly first-time voters, are expected to play a major role in deciding the outcomes of next year’s general elections.
However, factionalism and divisions — particularly ahead of the ANC’s Mangaung conference in December — has seen youth league structures collapse in some provinces. Mr Masina said on Monday that ahead of Mangaung, “those who had different views (the pro-Zuma group in the league) were purged”.
“It is self-evident and indisputable that the period pre-and post-Mangaung was characterised by a youth league that constituted itself as an independent opposition from within the ANC,” Mr Masina said.
He said the youth organisation was “weak and a shadow of its former self”.
The task team also decided to reconstitute the interim structures in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape. Youth league task team co-ordinator Magasela Mzobe said KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga would be “assisted to go to conference this year”.
Mr Masina said the task team was informed by the finding of a national assessment of youth league structures, which had been conducted in all provinces, except in the Eastern Cape. He said the Eastern Cape would be visited this week.
However, a youth league leader in the Eastern Cape told reporters last week that the task team had visited the province early last month. This suggested the task team may have had difficulties deciding the province’s future.
Mr Masina also said that the task team would further assess Gauteng to “ascertain the real state of the organisation”.
Four of the province’s five regions have been collapsed, which could be seen as a vote of no confidence in the provincial leadership.
A youth league leader close to the work of the task team said last week it was necessary to rebuild all the structures from scratch.
By: Setumo Stone and Rolivhuwa Ramaliba