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ANC Youth League ‘Not Better Under Malema’ – Nonceba Mhlauli

In her ambition to lead the ANC Youth League, Nonceba Mhlauli wants to dispel any notion that the league was better run under its former leader Julius Malema.

Mhlauli believes that no organisation collapses after a leader departs, if it was ever stable.

Malema and a group of then ANC Youth League members were expelled from the party in 2012.

There had been a perception that the ANC Youth League’s demise occurred because of Malema’s departure.

Those that followed him in leading the league, such as Collen Maine, were unable to revive the organisation.

Mhlauli said it was important to dispel the narrative of a better ANC Youth League during a specific period. She believes the organisation had faults in the past.

Mhlauli said:

Even during the time of Julius, there was a lot of discourse, but there was no organisation. That is why when that leadership left, an organisation collapsed. An organisation that is alive should live irrespective of whether that leader is there or not. In the ANC, you could recall a president, and the organisation would continue to function.

Mhlauli, 33, is interested in leading the ANC Youth League once the league can hold a conference.

She strongly believes she can revive it from its former ashes and shadows.

If it takes place, the ANC Youth League conference is expected to take place in August as the league’s regions have been electing regional leaders.

The Northern Cape, the only province in which the league has been able to hold a provincial conference, has backed Mhlauli to run.

Other regions have shown interest in her leadership. She has been leading the ANC Youth League task team, which was appointed in 2021.

A lack of funding and proper organisation had stifled the league’s chances of holding a national conference.

It will cost over R20 million for the structure to meet, and the money will have to be financed by an already financially struggling ANC.

An attempt to hold a provincial conference in Limpopo failed for political reasons. But Mhlauli said she remained optimistic about the league’s future.

In outlining her vision, she said she believes the ANC Youth League needs to be very serious in tapping into issues that affect the youth.

She recalls how disconnected young people felt from the league because of various factors, including the perception that the structure was inward-focused and not invested in issues affecting the youth.

“Champion the interests of young people and mobilise behind the ANC. If we do that, then we will succeed in transforming the organisation. You will not be able to win over young people if you do not champion their interests.

“Part of the things that make the ANC unattractive for young people is that they do not see themselves in the leadership of the ANC. Young people do not see themselves,” she told News24.

In analysing where the ANC is currently, Mhlauli believes the party should take a firmer stance on its members who had brought the party into disrepute.

Another concern for the ANC Youth League convenor was whether the ANC was serious about its renewal agenda.

She said one issue that her constituency in the Western Cape had proposed was to have the party’s members elect leaders and not leave the decision to a branch mandate.

Other ANC members have proposed this along with the idea of members reapplying for membership to “clean up” the base. Former ANC leader Thabo Mbeki has been the biggest champion of the party, cleaning up its membership.

Mhlauli said it was in these frank proposals and discussions that the party would be seriously moving towards a path of renewal.

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