– Its relevance cannot be in defence of a personality nor to demand who should be ANC president –
In recent months a question began to form in my mind as to the relevance of the ANCYL for this epoch. A question I thought I never had to entertain if the richness of its historical role was the maximum symbol of our consideration.
With the departure of its former leader, secretary general and spokesman, it has become difficult to understand, interpret or make sense of ANCYL, especially because all the ensuing statements appears to be centred on the personality of Julius Malema. What cannot be disputed more than 60 days after his expulsion is that the ANCYL leadership was a Malema leadership, in as much as it cannot untie itself from the rhetoric of his leading, the victim status immanent in him and the agenda he drove.
On close examination it has become easy to see, ANCYL leadership is a personality based leadership, for his absence is really his presence in ANCYL actions, when current leader Ronald Lamola or the new spokesman Magdalene Moonsamy opens their mouths it’s to save a Malema a loyalty espoused to a person, whom the NEC after deliberations specifically on him endorsed as expelled.
One must find the current tit for tat, rudderless, aimless and directionless pursuit of existing leadership as deploring if the history of the ANCYL is understood and engaged as our guiding light for analysis.
Perhaps one must give Malema and his cohort’s credit for having developed an ANCYL that is more than loyal to his personality and proves willing to defend him as the supreme cause for its existence. Any politician would pay for such loyalty.
Those who know will attest that the ANCYL was the bedrock of new and young cadre development of the ANC. It served as the proverbial chicken broiler to produce leaders that served the movement in different and distinct epochs of struggle definition. From its inception the youth league proved necessary, relevant and on point. It amongst other things produced leadership such as Mandela, Tambo and many celebrated ones.
It appears as if the Youth League’s leadership relevance is its defence of the defenceless, the now expelled and suspended. It appears the current leadership lacks a sense of purpose or being outside the now gone leadership.
Not only is an opaqueness of meaningful leadership experienced in the ANCYL, but one can’t help to see the wild messages and attacks by an expelled Malema as that which informs the ANCYL utterances, permeating through it official communications.
The originality of thought, the symbolism of young lion pride, has made way for a barrage of perpetual insults, personality cult worship and rhetoric of confused comprehension of ANC processes, constitution and electioneering methods. The abandonment of well entrenched lobbying, debate to persuade others as means of canvassing one’s mind or position an entrenched subculture in ANC history is pervasive in these young ones. Defiance without cause and reason has shaped and gripped the minds of those who are said to lead at this critical time. Not only is there an abandonment of the vestiges of what made the ANCYL a critical constituency, but a lacklustre attitude to prove honourable to the organisations ideals, values creeds and objectives defines the canvas of ANCYL politics.
It appears proving oppositional without due cause in which a victim and villain mindset is perpetuated as the meridian of a bankrupt political astuteness is salient in the minds of those whom it is said leads the ANCYL today.
Irregular statements, unwarranted claims, insults, personal attacks, a sense of despotic behaviour constitute the true legacy of Malema in ANCYL context. The quagmire that the expelled former leader has led and left the ANCYL in has raised the question how relevant is the Youth League in this epoch? How meaningful can its existence be in this dispensation? What constitutes the axis of its mandate and what informs the fundamental purposes of such a league if it does not advance the cause of true liberation? What are we to deduce from its now perceived primary aim as that which is aimed at rewriting ANC history in an almost evanescent way? Why shall it exist if its mandate is misunderstood obfuscated to obliterate its mother body in all forums at any cost to prove them a force?
Is the ANCYL in its current setting relevant and if it is what is it relevant for? It cannot be relevant for political agendas of ambitious individuals be they in ANCYL or mother body setting. Its sole purpose can never be misconstrued to serve the interest of a few held immured by a belief that individuals are bigger than the movement. It cannot only exist to make and break those it claimed it made.
How relevant is the ANCYL when South Africa’s youth are unemployed, cannot attain a tertiary education or lack the opportunity to craft its own independent economic future? Lastly how relevant is the ANCYL in its current definition, speech, and visionary outlook to act as the vanguard of youth development as led by ANC policies when all it is prepared to discuss is an expelled leader, suspended officials and who must be the next president of the ANC.
In this centenary year in which some invoke the Mandela morality of leadership on others forgetting themselves as also not free from the very claim of betrayal of such morality and legacy, we must ask does the current ANCYL leadership understand its mandate and reason for existence.
Can it firstly liberate itself from the proverbial Mary-Mary shackles of imprisonment of an expelled Malema mindset and find the landmarks of what this league stands for, in the absence of that it will prove irrelevant and taxing to say the least.
History will judge the ANCYL for proving irrelevant when its relevance is desperately needed, I hold such relevance has little if anything to do with who must serve as president for that is the mandate of the ANC branches and no one else can claim to be more supreme than these branches.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
This article appears courtesy of “Malema the by-Default face of Economic Redress”- Political Commentary and Analysis 2012
July 23, 2012