ANC Youth League tired of ‘old leaders’, KZN marchers call for 25% representation on PR candidate lists
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DURBAN - MEMBERS of the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal marched to the party’s provincial offices yesterday demanding an end to being led by “ageing people” at councils and other structures.
They said they were awaiting the make-up of the ruling party’s Proportional Representation (PR) councillors candidates’ list to see whether there was a 25% representation of young people, as promised by the mother body.
Youth league members said they were demanding fair representation in governance structures, complaining about being dominated by ageing people at councils and other structures.
They accused the mother body of reneging on its position of a 25% youth representation in councils across KZN.
The league has been advocating for a generational mix in leadership structures, arguing that this was the only way in which the ruling party and the country could have a future. Yesterday’s march was just another demonstration of frustration from the youth league, which currently operates with an interim structure.
ANC Youth League spokesperson Sizophila Mkhize said they were disappointed with the list they had seen, which had fewer than expected young people.
“The ANC made a commitment to 25% representation of young people for the 2021 local government elections, but what we have seen is that in KZN alone the youth make up 10% of the total representation in those lists at councils,” said Mkhize. While yesterday’s focus was on KZN, the ANCYL claimed that poor youth representation was found in all parts of South Africa, and this had prompted the league to march.
The league accused the mother body of attempting to silence it, and turning it into a youth desk of the party as opposed to an autonomous league, through threats of suspensions and expulsions.
“The ANC is largely led by old people and this has impacted on young people who are on the receiving end of hunger, poverty and a lack of opportunities,” Mkhize said.
She added that they had asked for a meeting with the KZN mother body to discuss youth representation on the list. The meeting was set for last night.
ANC KZN spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela acknowledged that youth league members had been at the provincial office.
“I am not aware of the meeting between the league’s representatives and the provincial leadership, because as things stand the provincial secretary (Mdumiseni Ntuli) is at the national office over the candidates’ list, as you are aware tomorrow is the IEC deadline for parties and individuals to submit candidates,” said Ntombela.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said yesterday’s march was an illustration of the grip that the ANC had on the league. He pointed out that the expulsion of former youth league president Julius Malema had been used by the mother body as a show of strength against independent-minded league members.
Malema went on to form the EFF, taking with him the core of the league’s leadership at the time.
“Malema’s leadership group represented the most powerful and most radical league in the ruling party’s history, and this had scared a lot of them, and it is being used to consolidate the grip of the old generation on the league,” said Seepe.
He said the push-back campaign by the older generation was meant to accommodate party activists who could not have a future outside politics and had sought to minimise the youth league’s influence on the party’s body politic. Apart from the league, Seepe said, Cosatu had also been reduced to the governing party’s labour desk. He accused the current ANC leadership of recycling the same personnel in leadership ranks, adding that this was one of the reasons that the ruling party had no new ideas that appealed to the younger generation.
“What you have, for instance on the PR list, are the so-called tried and tested cadres because the narrative is that a member must have joined and risen through the ranks to be considered for such a position.
“Simply put, this means that a young person with new ideas has no chance of making the list. This is why 27 years on we have the same problems, because we have the same people who have been in public office for more than 20 years.”
While there was a risk that some members could be expelled, Seepe said the risk of a bleak future was too high for the youth league to stand by and watch, and this was the reason for the march.