'Malema not welcome here'

SENIOR Eastern Cape ANC Youth League leaders turned their backs on former president Julius Malema when he visited Mthatha yesterday to address traditional leaders and attend the launch of his come-back campaign called “Friends of the Youth League”

Provincial leaders including Ayanda Matiti confirmed that the provincial league had not endorsed Malema’s meetings with church and traditional leaders in the Mthatha area or the official launch of the YL friends campaign, as it was not part of the Youth League programme.

A similar movement called “Friends of JZ” gave political and financial support to Jacob Zuma after he was dismissed as deputy president and during his trials on a variety of charges.

Provincial ANCYL secretary Mziwonke Ndabeni said the local ANCYL was distancing itself from the YLFriends and not necessarily from Malema.

“Any struggle outside the ANC structures is not the struggle of the Youth League. That is our stance. Julius has not been left in the cold. All we are saying is that things that are not organisational are not part of the Youth League,” said Ndabeni.

Malema and his former deputy Andile Lungisa, who is also chairman of the National Youth Development Agency, ANCYL NEC member Tando Mase and OR Tambo regional secretary Ndumiso Sapepa met traditional leaders at the Tsolo town hall near Mthatha yesterday.

The area is riddled with infighting over the amaMpondomise kingship with the Jola’s, who are part of Fikile Mbalula’s clan, contesting against the Dosini’s who back President Jacob Zuma.

“Only the Jola’s can meet such a group. The Dosini’s are very clear, they are in support of President Zuma,” said one of the senior traditional leaders in the area.

The Friends of the Youth League initiative was established last year after the ANC’s national disciplinary committee formally announced charges against the embattled youth league president, but was officially launched last night inmthatha.

It is understood that the majority of the Friends of Youth League are members of the ANC and the ANC Youth League. They have more than 600 followers on their twitter site.

Malema landed at the Mthatha Airport at about 10am yesterday and was rushed to a guest house in Mthatha by people who have close ties with the ANC and the league in the OR Tambo region.

Those who met Malema declined to identify themselves for fear of being disciplined by the ANC.

Malema spent about two hours with traditional leaders in Tsolo before he went to address traditional leaders at Nyandeni Great Place near Libode. He was billed as the main speaker at the launch of the Friends of the Youth League later yesterday.

Provincial ANCYL spokesman Nkosinathi Nomatiti said in a statement that the league had noted “with concern the establishment a grouping called the ‘Friends of the Youth League’ and would want to put it categorically that the Eastern Cape elected collective and its structures of the ANC Youth League is not part of this grouping and we are not in support of it".

“We further discourage all our members in associating themselves with this grouping. Anyone of the ANC Youth League members in the Eastern Cape who attends any of this grouping’s meetings or gatherings would be doing so in his or her personal capacity and not representing the ANC Youth League in the Eastern Cape,” said Nomatiti.

Nomatiti called upon ANC Youth League members to instead spend their energy pursuing the organisation’s collectively agreed decisions and not be involved in “machinations that could easily be about the pursuit of the cancerous personality cult within the ranks of our organisation.”

But a member of the Friends of the Youth League in the OR Tambo region defended Malema, saying he had been treated unfairly by the mother body.

“He is the leader of a huge organisation so it is natural that members of the civil society would want to know what is happening. We felt that he should come and explain what economic freedom is and what nationalization of mines is as many people are not clear on this. Just because he is under attack, that does not mean ANC youth league programmes should stop,” he said.

The member, who declined to be identified, said Malema was invited as an ordinary member of the public and not as president of the youth league.

"Even during [former president Thabo] Mbeki era, the youth league president was never expelled. Even his predecessor Fikile Mbalula was never expelled. Yet, all the league presidents did make mistakes.

“We believe that [Malema] is being targeted since the party is building towards its elective conference in Mangaung,” the friend said.

Founders said the new organisation would offer Malema unwavering support and seek to advance his campaigns for nationalisation and economic freedom.

“Malema had been championing the two programmes. When charges were levelled against him, he was never given a chance to state his side of the story. What is evident is that the youth league and its president has increasingly come under fire from the mother body.

“The ANC NEC has even refused to sit down with the youth league since last year,” he said.

Malema was expected to visit AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo at his Bumbane Great Place near Mthatha today (Thursday) and to address a rally at Walter Sisulu University Stadium in Mthatha at noon.

- The Dispatch