Will Mangaung, confirm or deny the ANCYL claim of Kingmaker status?

Can we let Mangaung prove decisive in economic redress policy articulation and quit the wrongful focus of individuals the sickness the ANC has fallen into head and shoulders -?

In an earlier note I penned I remonstrated that perhaps Malema and ANCYL’s biggest contribution inadvertently so, is that they redefined the claim of ‘Kingmaker status’.

It being open season in ANC – Elective Conference Mangaung 2012, nominations embrace, provinces and structures one after the others are making known their rightful wishes for potential candidates for President of the ANC and ultimately South Africa. The Youth League made its choice a long time ago that Kgalema Motlanthe should lead the ANC beyond December 2012; they have now also rightfully confirmed that he is their nominated person for the position of President. Amidst all of this premiers and Provincial Chairpersons are also nailing their colours to the mast.

There is nothing wrong with any constituency, league, structure, and province exemplified in branches making known their wishes. I thought it perhaps wise to consider will this be the first time in our modern ANC (at least 90’s-2012) where the Youth League’s voice or claimed power to influence an election of president will be left naked therefore reducing the claim of kingmaker status to a fallacy for the future.

It is common that the Youth League as one of the constituencies prides itself as having made presidents like Former Presidents Mandela, Mbeki, and Zuma. In a recent interview, conducted Former Youth League Leader and Sports Minister made it emphatic that the  Youth League under his leadership  produced a  Zuma presidency. Malema in his regret of regrets acknowledges that he has an ardent regret for having defended and fought for a Zuma Presidency. Whilst this claim is not totally bereft of legitimacy, it is less simplistic as we hear it in media embrace.

Perhaps the sentiments of this claim is often wrongly embellished by some to uniquely assert if not arrogate a right as an individual to make others, when the election results of the ANC conferences on the electing Presidents have always been a close shave at least for the modern era. I argue this on the premise that drawing a comparison between the ANC before political power and the ANC in political power remains a challenging one. We must rather talk of an ANC before political power and the ANC in political power and understand these as two different organisations because the playing fields have changed.  The truth is the ANC has always elected leaders and will always elect leaders and at time ones preferences will not feature, yet when ones do feature it is not totally true to argue you made so and so, but the ANC elects at all times.

It is clear that provinces, structures, and groups are all openly lobbying and that lends itself to the historic democratic philosophy and praxis of the ANC as an organisation.

It is at this juncture that we must pause and ask will this be the first time in post liberation sense that the kingmaker status claim will be truly tested or even buried. The ANC has many challenges in the up-run to a Mangaung, yet the ANCYL itself has many challenges. The Youth League remains the womb through which future leaders and new leaders are birthed for none of us want to see the ANC die because the Youth League has lost its purpose and role. I wish to reiterate that a strong ANC needs a strong Women’s, Veterans,  Youth League and particularly exemplified in Branch definition.

The fact is the Youth League goes to Mangaung almost painted into a corner, it goes to Mangaung not as strong as in previous seasons, and it goes to Mangaung as structure that is hurting if not bleeding where it seeks to table Leadership Change in presidential and Secretary General elections. The Youth League is yet to declare their preference of who between a Phosa and Sexwale will fit the bill of Deputy President; it also has an allegiance to the Gauteng Leader Paul Masha tile who similar to the ANCYL shares the leadership change mantra.

It does not take rocket science to figure out that the Youth League has more names that it believed it owe allegiance too, when it alone cannot decide unilaterally who should constitute the Top 6. The ANC is haunted by the demon of slates, which proves very close-ended, exclusive, and worse case rejecting of others. This demon of slates compromises even a Motlanthe who has yet to accept the nomination he has had for over 2 years unofficially and now official with ANCYL Acting Leader’s media briefing on the ANCYL’s choice for organisational leadership.

The problem with slates is that the branches don not really choose their leaders, but lobby groups presents constituencies with a list of names for positions in order of designation. The challenge with this is that it potentially erodes the democratic principles for which the organisation is known or at least strives.

Let me now return to the subject at hand. If the current analysis of most informed by the current provincial and branches numbers that will show up at Mangaung, then it becomes difficult to see the ANCYL exerting its muscle to influence the actual outcome. Off course, lobbying is a privilege right and has always swayed some, yet I think Mangaung will confirm that the ANCYL will not be able to make that claim as boldly as it has in previous seasons. Perhaps it is good that the issue of kingmaker status is dealt with finally. It appears that Motlanthe wants a nomination but not one in which he is dictated by ‘Kingmakers’ who will even tell him who must be his deputy. The kingmaker status of the Youth league will perhaps be buried at Mangaung not as a vengeful attack or rejection of a Motlanthe but for what it is and must be a claim vacuous of future veracity.

Let the ANC Branches go to Mangaung with a branch mandate. Let them go educated to know the importance of the decision less in vengeance but informed by principle. I guess it sounds like a utopian perspective for it discounts the fact that the very branches are lobbied, sweetened in this season by whomever for whatever purposes on both sides of the Mangaung Dream or Nightmare.

In an ideal world we will have branch representatives fully conscious and aware of the opportunity, humbled by the privilege and awed by the moment to participate in an elective conference perhaps like many before historic in its deliberations. Yet the eternal optimist I am I  hold out the hope that the Mangaung 2012 in this centenary year will be premised to engage the subject matter of economic redress as its fundamental policy articulation less for the proverbial ‘musical chairs leadership’ changes mooted. It will prove historic for we will look back 20 from now and exclaim that was when economic power and redress found meaning in organisational context.

I think we must think now already beyond Mangaung and ask what will the context and outcomes of the second phase of transition brings? My fear is we are in a quagmire of personality politics, not as if any of those elected can unilaterally change the course of our destiny and miss the opportunity Mangaung presents to secure for the masses true economic redress.  I remain optimistic that the ANC will emerge post Mangaung a united organisation renewed in new century for economic redress definition, for political power without economic power the plight of all independent African countries cannot visit upon Mzansi too.

Leave the Kingmaker status, for no one will make no one else a king for the ANC do not have Kings or Royalty it has Leaders willing to serve for the interest of the masses less for themselves.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator

This article appears Courtesy of “ Tradewinds are Blowing” – Political Musings and Analysis 2012

(Due November 30, 2012)


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