New favourite to lead ANCYL

Collen Malatji
Collen Malatji

Former Congress of SA Students (Cosas) president and current ANC Youth League (ANCYL) Ekurhuleni regional coordinator Collen Malatji's name is being bandied about by a number of provinces to contest for the presidency of the youth league at the conference in September.

Malatji, who is believed to have the full support of President Cyril Ramaphosa's camp in the ANC, is understood to have gained traction among youth league members and branches after the leading contender for the position, current ANCYL treasurer-general Reggie Nkabinde, is said to be no longer eligible to contest for the position due to his age.

However, Nkabinde said this week that his candidature can only be decided by the branches. Nkabinde will turn 35 in June, the age at which the limit prescribed for youth league members kicks in.

Sunday World understands that as a result of Nkabinde's campaign halt, the majority of provinces that backed his bid were now considering to support Malatji's campaign, saying they wanted young leadership below the age of 30 to revive the movement.

According to youth leaders in Gauteng and Limpopo, Ramaphosa has advised them to look to younger leaders who can serve at least two terms.

ANCYL member and Cosas president John Macheke confirmed that the youth structure has been hard at work to influence other youth league members to consider Malatji.

"The time was ripe for the youth league to be unshackled from its crisis of ageing leaders to make way for real young leadership who will represent the interests of young people and not those who will be preoccupied by their future beyond youth league politics," said Macheke.

"All brilliant leaders that led a vibrant youth league come from Cosas, starting with Lulu Johnson and Julius Malema. So we believe that comrade Collen Malatji will follow in their footsteps.

"Comrade Reggie [Nkabinde] is no longer contesting for the position because his campaign was affected by the delay of the conference. There are issues with his age."

Limpopo ANCYL secretary Che Selane said the province has not yet discussed the leadership race but his personal view was that the next leader should be below the age of 30.

Malatji, aged 25, would join Malusi Gigaba as one of the youngest ANCYL leaders if elected. Malatji's chief lobbyist in the Northern Cape, Tshepo Louw, said young people were responding well to Malatji's bid.

"They agree that he is ready to lead the ANCYL as president. He has all the abilities and credentials of a good leader," said Louw.

Ramaphosa's CR17 campaign member and current ANCYL NEC (national executive committee) member Thembi Siweya said: "My wish is that the leadership to be elected should be below 30 years, including the NEC members, to allow for rebuilding purposes."

Malatji confirmed that he has been approached to stand for the position.

"As a young person, I agree with the suggestion because the ANCYL needs a younger leadership for it to survive. The ANC can't age, because if it ages, it's going to die a natural death," said Malatji.

Other candidates vying for the top post include KZN youth league secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo and Sifiso Mtshweni of Western Cape.

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