In a firm but diplomatic address to the league’s congress in Midrand on Friday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa raised the pertinent question of the calibre of leaders the league would elect later that day.
“As you ponder on who leads the ANC Youth League … cast your eyes back and remember the calibre of those leaders who preceded the leaders that you are going to have the opportunity to elect,” he said.
Ramaphosa raised the name of the founding leaders of the league like Anton Lembede and Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu in appealing to the conscience of delegates.
“The leaders that you are going to choose today or tomorrow should be the type of leaders who if you put up a mirror and say, do they measure up to the Nelson Mandela’s to the Walter Sisulu’s,” he said.
At least six provinces have officially nominated North West MEC Collen Maine as the presidential hopeful while the Western Cape has nominated ANC North West NEC member Pule Mabe.
Gauteng by Friday afternoon was split between Lesego Makhubela and Mabe.
“You are therefore called upon to choose wisely as you ponder the issue of choosing your leaders,” Ramaphosa said.
Those opposing Maine have accused him of being imposed on the league by the so-called premier league which is made up of three ANC chairpersons who are premiers Ace Magashule of Free State, Supra Mahumapelo of North West and David Mabuza of Mpumalanga.
In delivering his political overview to the congress the convenor of the task team formed to rebuild the league, Fikile Mbalula seemingly lashed out at the “premier league”.
“There is no premier league that is bigger than the ANC,” he told delegates.
Later, when pressed for clarity by journalists, Mbalula appeared to backtrack, saying that ANC members having interests in the league was not a new matter saying it was up to the youth to decide who should lead them.
Both Ramaphosa and Mbalula further drew exception to youth league members who take the organisation to court.
“We cannot allow the ANC to be controlled and run by the court,” Ramaphosa said adding this tendency cannot be allowed to continue.
On Thursday, a group of disgruntled ANCYL members from the North West failed in their bid to have the congress interdicted.
They claimed that some members were purposely excluded from the list of delegates to the congress.
“Those who rush to court clearly do not love the ANC,” Ramaphosa said.
The deputy president seemed to have appeased most of the delegates to the congress when he denounced the practice of “vote buying” where money is used to manipulate processes of the ANC.
“This is not a youth league which is on sale,” he said.
“There is a tendency that is creeping in where money is being used to buy young people … it must come to an end. It must be obliterated,” Ramaphosa said.
Later, Mbalula interestingly raised the issue of an attempt to un-ban open lobbying for positions within the ANC.
This has traditionally been frowned on in the party.
“We want to un-ban lobbying in the ANC”, Mbalula said.
Mbalula and Ramaphosa both called on the 2 700 delegates to defend the ruling party.
Ramaphosa said the youth must come out in defence of the ANC and President Jacob Zuma.
“It (the youth) must engage with those who insult, hate and degrade the name of the president,” he said.