Worry over splits in ruling party

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe will hold talks with the party's youth league leaders to "mentor and guide them" in the wake of the youth wing disbanding its Eastern Cape structures and reports of splits over support for ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma and President Thabo Mbeki.

Motlanthe says such a meeting will be held early next year.

Weekend media reports said pro-Zuma supporters in the ANC youth league and the Young Communist League have started purging pro-Mbeki supporters in the run-up to the party's national conference next year.

The conference will choose the new leadership in the party's national office. The youth league in Eastern Cape has come out in support of Mbeki leading the ANC for a third term.

The League's president, Fikile Mbalula, confirmed the removal of a structure in Eastern Cape, but denied that the move was related to the succession battle.

Motlanthe said: "We are going to meet with the youth league. They haven't given us a report yet. The national executive committee met and made its decision.

"But people have already closed for the holidays. We will probably see them in the new year," said Motlanthe.

Asked whether any disciplinary action was expected, Motlanthe said the youth league was an autonomous body with its own constitution.

"We want to understand where they are coming from. If there are any organisational weaknesses, we want to help," he said.

Motlanthe said the media misintepreted what was going on in the ANC by claiming that organised groups were springing up around Zuma and Mbeki.

"I don't work that way. I deal with ANC members, not organised groups."

He said the ANC had a duty to find out what was happening within the youth league.

"Our role is to mentor and guide them," said Motlanthe.

ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama said divisions in the ANC could only be solved by its members "accepting the discipline and traditions" of the party.

"The ANC is here to make people's lives better, and not for positions and infighting. I'm sure we will come out on top of this so-called crisis," said Ngonyama.