ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma yesterday gave the ANC Youth League his blessing to play a key role in determining who should be the next president.
Since his sacking from cabinet, Zuma has been paraded on several platforms of the league as the next president of the ANC and the country.
The league was at the forefront of Zuma supporters who claimed there was a conspiracy against him when he was first charged with raping a young woman and later with corruption.
Delivering a keynote speech at the 62nd anniversary of the ANCYL at Matlosana Stadium in Klerksdorp, North West, Zuma said the league was within its right to express an opinion on the succession debate.
"The ANC Youth League is within its right when it expresses itself on the succession debate within the ANC, and history has proven that in most occasions when it has done so it was correct," he said.
Zuma has previously denied that he was using platforms provided for him by the league, the SACP and Cosatu to campaign for the ANC presidency.
"Those who have developed historical amnesia about the role the league has played over the years, they now want to distort the truth.
"We must remind them that not so long ago, the league in continuing with that historical tradition within the ANC, played a central role in deciding and influencing the decision of who will succeed Nelson Mandela as both the leader of the ANC and the country," he said.
He said the ANCYL, from its early years of existence, did not shy away from issues of leadership debates and it played its role in influencing and shaping the decisions of the movement.
"No one questioned the league then on deciding who will succeed Mandela, no one said the league was jumping the gun when it pronounced itself and expressed its position about the choice of who will lead the ANC."
ANCYL leader Fikile Mbalula warned members of the ANC to guard against people who emerge from obscurity to lead them.
"We do not want surprise leaders who erupt from nowhere. Leaders of the ANC are produced by our struggles. Zuma was not made a leader in a beer hall, and that is why we will forever support him when he is subjected to injustices," he said.
Mbalula told Zimbabwe's Zanu PF youth leader Richard Bvukumbwe, who was among leaders of various youth organisations from the southern African countries, that: "We love Comrade Robert Mugabe [the president of Zimbabwe]. He is redistributing the wealth of the country to the people."