Yengeni dares ANC 'young lions' to take a bite at party's leadership

Tony Yengeni.
Tony Yengeni.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

ANC veteran and national executive committee member Tony Yengeni has told the party’s younger generation to put aside their difference, stop being apologetic and take charge of the ruling party.

Yengeni was speaking at his birthday dinner last week in which he called on leaders, including transport minister Fikile Mbalula, Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina and Gauteng MEC for human settlements Lebogang Maile to contest leadership positions in the next ANC elective conference.

“… you still think that you must get permission to lead. Let me tell you something, we have accepted that we are receding to the background, we’re going to pension, but you are not accepting historical responsibility to take this thing over and lead it and I think that time has come,” said Yengeni in a video from his private birthday dinner.

Yengeni is one of the elder ANC leaders with a checkered past, with several scandals that have dented his legacy.

Having joined the ANC and its armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe during the fight against apartheid and went on to join parliament in 1994, Yengeni was found guilty of fraud in 2003 which crushed any hopes of assuming any leadership role in the party and state.

He is currently a member of the ANC NEC, a role he has hinted he would be retiring from.

Yengeni told Mbalula, Masina and Maile to put aside their differences which could stand in their way of contesting leadership positions.

“…  I said guys, the time has come for you to assume political leadership of the ANC. Stop prevaricating and saying Zuma, Cyril, Yengeni, Radebe… it’s for you to take thing forward,” said Yengeni

“The nation looks at the ANC to take the country forward. It’s yours guys, in the next conference, you are on your own. I’m not even standing at the next conference. Bury your differences as young people and take this thing forward in the interest of [South Africans].”

In the run up towards the 2017 ANC elective conference in Nasrec, Mbalula along with other other young party leaders, including the embattled former finance and home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba,  formed a group termed the Young Lions. They were said to be in the running but that came to naught when Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa became front runners.

The Young Lions were backing Dlamini-Zuma who was initially the frontrunner before being thrashed by Ramaphosa at the eleventh hour when David Mabuza’s “Unity” movement swayed things in his favour, earning him the deputy president position.

Mbalula and Masina did not respond to questions about the remarks made by Yengeni.

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