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The choice between a radical and militant or docile and cheerleading youth league

By Staff Reporter
Do the Former Liberation Movements want dispensable pliant, lapdog and cheerleading youth organs or radical and militant youth leagues? This question is premised on the dissolution of the ANC youth League's Executive Committee two weeks ago on March 15, 2013, by the ANC national executive committee which unprecedentedly decided to disband the democratically elected executive committee of its youth organ and replace it with an interim committee, citing ill-discipline as the main reason for this decision.

In an article published in the South African weekly newspaper of the Sunday Times, veteran journalist Mondli Makhanya questioned the rationale for the ANC to dissolve its youth league and concluded that the main reason behind this move is to have a tamed youth and the consolidation of the control of the Mangaung victors by purging its rank of those who do not follow leadership instructions unquestionably.

In 2012, the ANC suspended and expelled from its ranks Julias Malema, the then President of the ANC youth league. In an article by Pusch Commey that appeared in the March's edition of the New African Magazine, entitled "the destruction of Julius Malema", it is said that the pain of dereliction was all too obvious as Julius Malema, the conquering hero of the youthful masses, recounted his bitter experiences in an interview with the South African City Press newspaper.

His "friends" have deserted him in droves and the South African Revenue Services (SARS) has attached all his assets: farms, houses, luxury cars, bank accounts. They want R16m (US1.8m) tax arrears. But how did a young upstart 31 year old politician who as president of the ANC youth league earned no more than 50,000 rand a month ($6000) end up with so many assets to generate R16m rand worth of taxes? Commey wanted to know. Part of the answer will come to light when he pleads to various charges brought against him in court next month.

If the reports preceding the trial are accurate, his accomplices will be cutting a deal to align with the state's prosecution. Already the ANC youth league on which he stamped his image has taken pains to distance itself from him. There is a new leadership in place, purged of his supporters and like a lizard's tail substituted by adversaries.

Commey says, it seems Malema was not a good student of African politics. His chutzpah led him to foolishly call for the replacement of Zuma as ANC President. The result was a shootout between the President of the ANC and the President of the ANC youth league. The impatient kid lost because, like Thabo Mbeki, he seriously underestimated his opponent and now he is walking the plank. Thus the old saying holds true that if you shoot at the king, you don't miss.

At the height of Malema's powers the myth of him being a kingmaker gained currency and ambitious politicians courted his favours. Now he is disliked by whites, who hold the economy, because of his vociferous agenda, in which he has advocated the nationalisation of mines, financial houses and other key sectors of the economy. He is spurned by other racial groups ostensibly because of his 'narrow Africanist agenda' seen as a threat to minorities. He has been spewed out by blacks who hold political power because of his attempt to usurp power through the platform of the youth league.

Central to this self-destruction was a violation of a fundamental African value system; Respect For Elders. His gratuitous insults and arrogances in his political intoxication made his friends to desert him in droves. Now he is in freefall as the chickens have come home to roost. But is that a reason enough to dissolve a democratically elected organ or is this a simple witch hunt using the party's constitution and the disciplinary process to settle political scores?

The youthful Floyd Shivambu, in another article published by the Sunday Times, reminded us of the words of the Founding President of the ANC youth league, Anton Lembede, who in 1947 said: "It is depressing, however, to observe that the dragon of hostility against the youth league is rearing its ugly head. Political careerists and reactionary die-hards within and outside congress view the youth league with suspicion. The league is unjustifiably accused of being a parallel organisation to congress, of planning a coup d'état or to seize power in congress or to usurp the position of high congress officials. That is incorrect. It is nothing but a figment of the brain of those pseudo-leaders who are only solicitous about their personal positions, pride and interest, and not about the national struggle of the masses."

These sentiments perfectly define the present conjecture owing to the reality that, for the first time in its history, the ANC is under an ideologically directionless leadership with questionable standards', asserted Shivambu who concluded that these methods of suppression and repression are not new and will only mean that 'the radical and militant character of the ANC will wane and no new forms of the struggle, ideological analysis and innovative political solutions will be infused into the party'.

Listening to Shivambu you are then forced to pause, reflect and ponder on whether the former liberation movements will be emptied of their militancy? If we are not careful we are heading there, especially when you hear about stories of accusations and counter accusations of plots and victimisation or ostracising among the youth leaders. I just hope that is not the case because that will only lead to self-destruction when party cadres start devouring each other by settling old political scores which will allow the enemy to enter through the back door.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.


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