Four years of Malatji

By Tshepo Rakumakoe

It has been years since the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) had the leadership at National level. For the past eight-years the Youth League had the Task team to lead it beside the North-West Colin Maile who I cannot write much about his leadership. The new president Collen Malatji has been on the campaign troll since 2018 until he became the winner a few days ago.

Good day, I am here as the one who will tell the fairytale of how did the ANCYL session after full eight-years went by.  Since I got to the Blue Institution (University of the Witwatersrand) I have sort of learnt how the South African politics work. All of these starts from whose is who with who, what is your motive and who do you represent the most. This was just how I learnt of politics. But allow me the stage to share the story on the new leadership of the ANCYL. William Shakespeare through his work the Merchant of Venice once did emphasise that the world we live in is like a stage and us as humans we are the actors with different roles. Here is the play we missed from the Nasrec Centre…

In a meeting full of drama on Saturday night, Gauteng ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Collen Malatji was chosen without opposition as the young lions’ president. Malatji was the front-runner because he had the support of the majority of the provinces and the implicit endorsements of ANC leaders.  His “Economic freedom or death” was the slogan on his slate.

The drama or sad part of the whole play was that around over 1900 representatives buoyed Malatji, while his rival Aphiwe Mkhangelwa rudely extracted from contemplation for the nomination. I believe this was due to the reason that the latter’s region of Chris Hani had been declined entry, this as to thwarting them from attending the summit. Another lesson I learnt from Wits students’ politics to eliminate the possible opposition by all means rather lie about them, so many things do happen. Even when people do tell us that politics is a dog-eat-dog world, I tend to misunderstand them on the basis that the world is not such cruel place as it is being referred as.

The other drama was that the permits given to envoys, according to the seven members of the ANCYL task team, were not the result of their group’s labour. The task team was reputable to warrant that the league had conference after an eight-year absence.  I also picked up that Xola Nqola who was selected by the national working committee of the mother body the African National Congress was actually removed by the organisation’s Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula from the Youth League’s task force. Mbalula’s decision was even questioned by the delegates as why did it even happen in the first place. My question is why do suspend someone from his duties when he got selected by National Working Committee?

I guess nobody will come up with the perfect answer than the removal of a serious competition. But my focus is on the new leadership of the ANCYL after eight-years without one that is being led by the Gauteng’s Collen Malatji. I would also like to congratulate the fellow for his win to lead an organization that has at one stage got led by leaders who most them ended up leading the main organization. Since its inception in 1944, ANCYL got leaders like Anton Lembede (1944–1947), the father of the South African author Zakes Mda who was known as Ashby Peter Mda (1948–1950), Nelson Mandela (1950-1960), Jackie Selebi (1987–1991), Peter Mokaba (1991- 1994), Lulu Johnson (1994- 1996), Malusi Gigaba (1996-2004), the current SG of the ANC, Fikile Mbalula (2004- 2008) then Julius Malema (2008 – 2012) thereafter, Collen Maine (2015- 2019).

From that list I had just mentioned I can assure you that Malatji steps into the footsteps of giants. Just take a look at them, Lembede, Mda, Mandela, Selebi, Mokaba and possibly Johnson. From the first five leaders of the ANCYL, I ask for a moment of silence such that Malatji can be able to take the main party from gentle men with clean hands to make it more militant. These were the same words that were uttered by those who started the league in 1944. They believed that the ANC, which the league aimed to change, was portrayed as “a body of gentlemen with clean hands”. Another question from myself to you as the reader is “Can Malatji be able to emulate the Lembedes, Mdas, Mandelas, Selebis and Mokabas?”

I am just hoping he will be able to pressurize his own organization that is in charge of the national government to create jobs for the country’s graduates who are even resorting to crimes, drugs, corruption and the lot that I think is not just to the government. I am just sharing what I think can be addressed. Possibly his leadership can be able to remind the ANC that South Africans are tired of the Green, Gold and Black organ leading the country.  Though, I feel like I am rewriting Bessie Head’s Maru novel that is so confusing.

Yes, I do say it loudly that in the conference there was an amendment of its constitution that only give the new leadership a period of four-years to lead the YL. In Mathematical terms, this will see Malatji being in the office until 2027. I have just realized that in the past YL allowed leaders to be in office for three-years. Though, out of the whole session I have to state that the 2014/15 Wits SRC Secretary-General, Fasiha Hassan impressed me the most not because she is a Witsie as well. Her wise words on the Ukraine invasion by Russia through reflection that the ANC’s relationship with the Soviet Union but issued a warning that members should not romanticize a system that is no longer in place. The Russian Federation of today is not the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Having said that, the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must be observed with the disparagement it merits.  

However, it seems like their Progressive Youth Alliance buddies of South African Students Congress that ended in court we might have another court battle looming. This is due to reasons that several league members are not happy at all, maybe a judicial case was imminent because the conference had been tarnished by irregularities.  Members of the league’s steering committee complained to the ANC about an unfair process as the league applied for credentials.

Allow me to rest a bit. Setswana do say that a cow does not release the whole dung. “Goodnight” (Kanye West, 2006).

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