Mangaung chapter wide open
ANC national executive committee cannot close issue of the Youth League
THE statement of the ANC special national executive committee meeting dated June 11 2012 said emphatically that after exhaustive deliberation on the "disciplinary matter involving comrades Julius Malema, Sindiso Magaqa and Floyd Shivambu, the chapter is now closed as far as this matter is concerned".
The statement went further and urged "all structures of the ANC, including the leagues, to respect and implement the decision of the NEC".
Accordingly, the current leadership of the ANC strips the right of ANC members, branches and ultimately delegates to be the final arbiters in the ANC political processes.
A cursory reflection on the ANC'S long-standing tradition and organisational processes confirms that, indeed, there is something fundamentally amiss with the statement of the special ANC NEC.
In terms of this long-standing practice and internal ANC organisational processes, no chapter can just be closed.
Its members, through their branches, have the final say on a matter like the one affecting the ANC Youth League.
Perhaps for the purposes of this discussion we need to provide readers with a brief account of the due procedural and logistical processes to be followed in the Mangaung conference.
The ANC's national chairman will preside over the first day of the conference when it will be officially opened.
Its president will deliver the political report and the secretary general the secretariat report, the main content of which is largely organisational: the state of ANC structures, its branches, growth or decline in membership.
Thereafter the treasurer's report will follow, dealing more with the financial state of the ANC.
After these three reports have been delivered the entire leadership collective of the ANC will be dissolved and a steering committee be temporarily appointed to run the conference until a new leadership, especially the top six, have been elected.
At this point ordinary members of the ANC from the branches will be in charge of the entire conference, including all its procedural and logistical matters.
It must be remembered that these ordinary members constitute at least 90% of the conference and will spare no one.
The draft agenda that the current NEC leadership proposed would have been adopted, amended or rejected by the conference. If they decide to put the ANCYL matter on the agenda, nobody - no individual no matter how powerful that person thinks he or she is - will dictate otherwise to conference delegates. Hence the popular war cry, amandla ase masebeni (the real power lies with the branches, not with the NEC).
So it is within this context that I do not agree with the NEC when it states that the ANCYL chapter is closed. It is not.
Essentially, the drama in this chapter is more entertaining and the political comedy on stage is getting more interesting as each day passes.
Maybe what is contained in the NEC statement is just the wishful thinking of the current leadership collective. If that wishful thinking is allowed to become a living political reality, then the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) will be miscarried and organisational democracy completely eroded.
Political expediency is not the way to go in resolving political and ideological problems of this nature in any political organisation, including the ANC.
In 2005 during the National General Council at the University of Pretoria, ANC members showed the then-ANC leadership collective that they were indeed the final arbiters as far as ANC matters were concerned.
This was immediately after Jacob Zuma had been relieved as deputy president and had voluntarily resigned from the NEC so that he could focus on his trial.
The delegates at the NGC re-instated Zuma. He was brought back by the ordinary members of the ANC from the political wilderness to where he is today.
In 1985 in Kabwe, Tanzania, ANC delegates proposed a motion for the expulsion from the ANC of the Marxist Workers Tendency of the ANC led by a radical academic and historian, Martin Leggasick.
The conference took the decision and Leggasick and his group were finally expelled. Again in this instance, the ANC delegates had the final say on matters affecting its affairs.
Historically, the right of the rank and file to have a say in ANC affairs and who should lead them at a particular time was asserted at the Morogoro conference in 1969.
Maybe we need to look at this saga and ask the most pertinent question: Will the chapter on the ANCYL ever be closed?
The answer depends entirely on whether the ANC as a governing party confronts all the issues facing young people.
Central to the youth league campaign is the question of economic liberation.
For the ANC to be able to respond adequately to the challenges of economic bondage and deprivation, it has to adopt a radical ideological posture.
Such an ideological posture must truly find its expression in the policies and programmes of the ANC-led government. In view of the ever changing and fragile global political economic environment, it cannot be business as usual.
The current leadership, both in the ANC and in the government, must begin to demonstrate their comprehension of the global and continental challenges currently facing African states individually and collectively.
Most importantly, the disarticulation of Africa's development agenda by this leadership is something that needs urgent attention.
These are some of the issues the youth league raised and they resonate very well with the young people who are facing unemployment and are thirsty for inspiring and ideologically acute leadership.
We hope the ANC's forthcoming national policy conference from June 26 to 29 will lay a solid foundation for a new ideological and policy posture .
Maybe then the chapter can finally be closed.
- Maseti is a political economy analyst and MD of Ngubengcuka Consulting based in Centurion.