I am a member of the ANCYL at Ward 23, Musa Dladla Region (North Coast), Empangeni in KwaZulu Natal. Due to the nature of my work, it makes it impossible to be a meaningful participant in the daily life of the organisation. As a result, I suspect I am mostly naive of the “bigger picture” and the “polotical context” of certain developments relating to the ANCYL.
However, since I first joined the ANC in 1993 and been following political developments in the liberation movement since 1987, I feel I could still express my shallow opinion based on the accumulated elementary understanding of the liberation movement.
For purposes of process, we will treat this text as a submission to my ANCYL Branch Chairperson Cde Dumsani Mthembu and the ANCYL Regional Chairperson Cde Khabe Ntuli in terms of Article H (4) in 2011 ANCYL Constitution (and Article H (3) in the 2008 ANCYL Constitution) which says, “Every member of the ANCYL shall have the right to: … Submit proposals or statements to the branch and to the region and province on any matter that affects the youth and society in general” For my own sake, I hope this does not transgress the Code of Conduct of the ANCYL. The political reasons of publishing this text are contained in a quote from Chairman Mao towards the end of this text.
Consistent with my naivety let us start by making a few assumptions. Let us assume that;
- the ANCYL is the league of the ANC and derives its existence from the ANC.
(We are basing this assumption on Rule 7.4 of the ANC Constitution and Article A of both the “current” ANCYL Constitution of 2011 and the “previous” one of 2008)
- that members of the ANCYL have an obligation of “unswerving loyalty to the ANCYL” not individuals.
(We are basing this on Article H (a) on the 2011 Constitution and Article H (1) on the 2008 Constitution)
- that the ANCYL has a 24th National Congress Special Resolution “to prefer Comrade Fikile Mbalula as a nominee for the position of Secretary General in the 53rd National Conference of the ANC in 2012”
(We are basing this on the 24th National Congress Resolution document published on the ANCYL website – http://www.ancyl.org.za/docs/res/2011/24resolutions.pdf)
- that the ANCYL has a “Programme for Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime” adopted at the 24th National Congress. (ibid)
- that the success of the implementation of the ANCYL 24th National Congress Resolutions does not depend on one or two people.
(We are basing this on a naive idea that it is absurd to reduce the ANCYL to one or two people)
- that the members and leaders of the ANCYL have an obligation to “Combat all forms of tribalism, regionalism, nepotism, and other forms of discrimination based on race and sex as well as combating
factionalism and malicious gossip within our ranks.”
(We are basing this on Article H (g) on the 2011 Constitution and Article H (7) on the 2008 Constitution)
- that the ANCYL is not in a very healthy position in terms of unity or alternatively in terms of its structures.
(We are basing this on the ANCYL statement issued on 02 March 2011 which said the membership was 600 000, read in conjunction with media reports on the Sowetan and News24 which quote the ANCYL Spokesperson as having said, “We have clarified in congress that to say that the audited members for the 24th national congress’s purposes was 366 000, but the overall number of members is more than 600 000.“The audit focuses on branches that go to their branch general meetings with a quorum, and membership applications are different. Branches that went to congress are those that have a minimum of 100 members and went to branch general meetings with a quorum of 50%+1 of their total membership within the dates we had given.“Other branches that did not have members up to 100 or did not reach quorum were not in congress because they did not pass the audit. This does not mean that their members are not members”This means that only about 50% of the ANCYL members participated, through delegates, at the last National Congress and by extension at the preceding Provincial and Regional Congresses. Let us ignore other possible reasons, other than those stated by Spokesperson, which could be part of the reasons of the exclusion of the other 50%. Members of the ANCYL reading this should also ignore the other reasons that they think they know.)
- that the ANCYL and the ANC are not characterized by perpetual agreement and harmony between themselves and within each of them. To help manage internal difference within each of themselves and between each one of them, they are guided by democratic centralism principle. For purposes of this text the definition of democratic centralism principle is “Observe discipline, behave honestly and carry out loyally decisions of the majority and decisions of higher bodies.”
(We are basing this on Rule 5.2 (g) of the ANC Constitution)
- that it is not desirable for the ANCYL membership and leadership to defy Rule 5.2 (g) of the ANC Constitution because in a few years time they are going to turn 36 and be ineligible to be members of the ANCYL. When that time comes and they belong to the ANC only, they would not want to have set a precedent where the ANCYL reserves a right to defy “decisions of higher bodies” if they do not agree with them.
(We are basing this on that the ANCYL Constitution(s) limit the ANCYL membership to 35 years old)
Having made all these naive assumptions, which some of them could be dismissed with the contempt they deserve, what, then, should the ANCYL NEC decide in its meeting on Sunday, 04 March 2012, given the recent developments, namely the ANC NDC decision?
The simple answer is that as a procedural step, the charged members will appeal to the NDCA. If the sanctions they appeal against are upheld by the NDCA, they will petition the NEC to review the NDCA decision and subsequently take it to the ANC 53rd National Conference, if the NEC review is not favourable. Meanwhile the ANCYL Deputy President, Cde Ronald Lamola, would be the Acting President as provided for in the ANCYL Constitution(s) (Section 4.2.3 in 2008 and Section 4.2 (b) in 2011). Cde Magdalene Moonsamy could be appointed Spokesperson. Then the organisation can continue to function as it should, implementing the resolutions of the 24th National Congress and healing the health of the ANCYL as pointed out in the one of the assumption above, without let or hindrance.
However, even at a naive level, things are not that simple.
The charged members would lose relatively nothing in showing remorse (or pretending to be remorseful) as they approach the NDCA, compared to what they would lose by not showing it.
But what would pretending to be remorseful achieve at this eleventh hour?
Due to the May 2010 NDC decision on President Malema, not much would achieved other than lessening the sanction from expulsion to a suspension. In case of the suspension, not much is lost by him as a young politician. Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela are classical examples of that it is possible to come back to the political sphere and effect the changes you believe in (for a clue on why these two, google and read the speech “History will absolve me” by Fidel Castro and “I am prepared to die” by Nelson Mandela and try to find out the circumstances in which those speeches were made.) The essence of this paragraph is that President Malema will be just fine, even if he is suspended. The sooner we internalise this, the better for the ANCYL. Alternatively, we could still persist in defiance, in a format of a personality cult, and lead the ANCYL to anarchy and its demise which we will have to own up to when we turn 36.
In my naive opinion, Cde Floyd Shivambu’s suspension could still be lightened. Cde Floyd is charged for two offences;
- Swearing at the journalist over the phone
- The Botswana parts of the ANC Youth League 24th National Congress National 1st Executive Committee statement issued on 31 July 2011 read with ANC Youth League statement on the Botswana command team and the need to mobilise against the Botswana Democratic Party issued on 02 August 2011
With regard to the first charge, paragraph 59 of the ANC NDC decision issued on 29 February 2012 says that, “Comrade Shivambu has shown remorse for swearing at the journalist.”
In the same statement, the ANC NDC says he showed no remorse for the Botswana charge which the NDC says his statement “differed significantly from the ANC Youth League’s 24th Congress resolution on Botswana” and further says, “Comrade Shivambu’s misconduct brought the ANC into disrepute and undermined the ANC’s commitment to respect the sovereignty of states” (see paragraph 57 and 58 of the ANC NDC Statement)
Under the prevalent circumstances, I believe that Cde Floyd’s sentence should be lessened to a 3 year suspended suspension that would come into effect in the event of another transgression within the period. I believe this could achieved in the NDCA if the following arguments are advanced by me, or someone else who is not naive like me;
- The NDC has already accepted that he is remorseful and apologised with regard to the first charge.
- With regard to the second charge, Cde Floyd should show remorse (or pretend to show remorse) and give the Apology and withdrawal of the ANC Youth League National Executive Statement on Botswana statement issued on 13 August 2011 as evidence.
- The NEC should commit to that Cde Floyd will no longer head ANCYL Communication and maybe assign this to Cde Magdalene Moonsamy, this would also be in consideration of the ANC NDC remark on paragraph 41 of its 29 February 2012 Statement.
- As a mitigating factor, I, or someone less naive should lead evidence in mitigation for Cde Floyd along the lines of what Cde Soviet Lekganyane presented for Cde Malema. This should include Cde Floyd’s political record and his CV (his academic qualifications, his participation in SASCO, his participation in the YCL, his work in the SACP and the Chris Hani Institute, his deployment by the youth movement to NSFAS Board and that he remains one of the few of his generation and calibre to have been in consistently employed his faculties to the liberation movement rather than government, parliament or NYDA.) And thus emphasise why it is important that he continues to be the Head of Policy, Research and Political Education in the ANCYL.
I have a naive belief that the NDCA would find these arguments, together with remorse (pretentious or real), to be sensible and thus lessen the suspension into a suspended sentence for Cde Floyd given that he is a first time offender. Indeed, I could be wrong and the NDCA could uphold the NDC decision, which would be a huge blow for the ANCYL capacity in Research, Policy Development and Political Education.
In Cde Magaqa’s case, he should just apologise and accept the suspended sentence.
Aha! It looks like this solution is working. The entire ANCYL NEC is in tact, with the exception of the suspended President Malema, but there is already a capable Cde Ronald Lamola at the helm as Acting President.
Not so fast.
This is the solution that would work if the assumptions made earlier were all correct and if the opinion of this author mattered, not when it is only a naive imagination of person who does not understand the “bigger picture” and the “polotical context” of the developments in the ANCYL.
But what is this bigger picture? To ‘get it’ we would have to go to ANC Youth League National Executive Committe Lekgotla Statement issued on 16 February 2012 for clues.
About “the charges brought against the leadership of the ANC YL, the [ANCYL NEC] Lekgotla deducted, noted and accepted the following observations:” which I will respond to each with what I regard as my naivety based on my organizational (un)knowledge and my (dis)loyalty to it. My responses are in brackets and italics;
- The entire process of the disciplinary proceedings of the ANC was politically motivated and meant to resolve political struggles and battles within the ANC. Some in the ANC believe that by removing certain leaders of the ANC YL, they will successfully suppress and undermine the political and ideological struggles of the ANCYL, particularly on Nationalisation of Mines and Expropriation of Land without Compensation or will be guaranteed re-election into leadership positions in the ANC.
(In my opinion this is not a problem because “removing certain leaders of the ANC YL” won’t “successfully suppress and undermine the political and ideological struggles of the ANCYL, particularly on Nationalisation of Mines and Expropriation of Land without Compensation” nor guarantee “re-election into leadership positions in the ANC” of anyone. Clearly “some in the ANC” observed by the NEC Lekgotla who “believe” this do not understand that struggles of the organisation do no belong to one or two people, so removing them won’t help.)
- There is no consistency of discipline in the ANC, because if there was any form and sense of consistency, there have been disrepute brought to the ANC by many amongst its leadership and there was no action that was taken.
(In my shallow opinion if “there have been disrepute brought to the ANC by many amongst its leadership and there was no action that was taken” while there was prima face evidence, nothing prohibits the ANCYL NEC from reporting such to the NDC or ANC Office Bearers for action. Indeed if there is no action taken against those reported even after they are reported and evidence submitted, then I would agree that there is no consistency. I am not aware of this having happened so I do not think the argument of lack of consistency can be substantiated. Even in the case of *cough* … Pro.. Err Turo..Uhm.. I am not aware of the ANCYL NEC having reported this and then notice inaction happen.)
- The refusal of those leaders of the ANC to recues themselves from the proceedings of the NDC had prejudiced the charged comrades.
(While I sympathise with this argument, I suspect it is impractical to expect this to happen. The ANC NDC is elected from among the NEC members immediately after the National Conference and remains a Committee of the NEC until the next National Conference. I suspect there are many debates/discussions that take place in the ANC NEC meetings which members of the NDC participate in, together with other NEC members. If disagreement on some/all of those debates is a sufficient reason for NDC members to recuse themselves and perhaps the complainant/prosecution also argues that those who may have agreed with the charged should also recuse themselves because they may favour the charged, then there would be no NDC to speak of.)
- The conviction of the leadership of the ANC Youth League was purely as a result of the statements and official positions of the ANC Youth League adopted by the 24th National Congress and endorsed by the National Executive Committee in its first post 24th National Congress meeting.
(While I also partially sympathise with this statement, the ANCYL needs to accept that communication or handling the media or public relations is a skill. Indeed, there isn’t a 100% perfect person who would do any job/task without error 100% of the time. However, it is not entirely a recipe for success to assign a comrade the responsibility to issue a statement if public relations is his weakness. I still believe that the ANCYL 24th National Congress resolutions can implemented, advanced and communicated without insulting anyone or vulgarizing their intention or perverting their meaning. It is unfortunate that Cde Floyd is charged for putting his name and number as contact person on the Botswana statement to which he later apologised, other charged comrades could also learn from his apology by issuing their apology. Besides, the use of this argument has neither worked with NDC nor the NDCA in the past. It has also not worked with NDC the second time around and there is no reason to believe it will work with the NDCA this time around. I have already made a suggestion of the deployment of Cde Magdalene for this task given the prevailing circumstances.)
One of the new approaches to communication by both Cde Magdalene as a Spokesperson and Cde Ronald as Acting President would have to exclude trying to fit in someone else’s shoes. From the little I know of Cde Ronald, having participated with him in SASCO, I know that someone else’s shoes won’t fit him due to their shape. He should focus on being himself and expand from that. I do not know Cde Magdalene that much but I also believe that if she assumes the Communication for the organisation she should also be herself. The same goes for Cde Magaqa in cases where he could be addressing members or the public.
A fake of an original is still a fake. As Samuel Johnson once said, “Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.”
I honestly do not believe that the suspension of the President will silent the militant voice of the ANCYL. I believe the militant voice is more driven by our radical Programme for Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime rather than the attack or bullying of those who disagree with it.
In fact, as the ANC will soon release the discussion documents for the ANC Policy Conference, we might discover that the ANC members in branches are better prepared to be persuaded to agree with us on our Economic Freedom Programme than they are prepared to be heckled, howled and bullied into agreeing with us.
I accept that my consideration of the “polotical context” of recent developments is not exhaustive as I did not address issues raised by President Malema in his Political Report to the ANCYL Lekgotla and issues raised by others elsewhere relating to this issue such as those raised by statements of some of the ANCYL PECs. Be that as it may, I think the thrust and direction of my naive arguments is clear and can possibly be enriched by those who are more politically astute than I am on the issues of the liberation movement.
In theory, this solution should be workable regardless of whether or not there is or there isn’t a political plot against the ANCYL. Besides, even if there is a plot, fighting it within the overall discipline of the movement can help persuade ANC branches for a review by the Mangaung Conference, compared to the doing the opposite of this.
One comrade wrote on Facebook that, “JZ was elected into leadership by chaos and shall be removed by chaos.” A variance of this view is held by those that say the prevalent (mis)conduct in the movement emerged before the ANC 52nd National Conference in Polokwane and was allowed to prevail, therefore we should not be surprised.
I am not the one to argue the merits or demerits of these views. However, if some comrades truly believe that “chaos” should be adopted as official practice of the ANC because it once set in, then they should say so openly. We can then officially enter a discussion of how many decibels of sound are permitted for howling or whether in the event of throwing chairs do we use wooden, steel or plastic chairs and what would be the punishment of a person who uses a wrong chair. And if insults and personal attacks are to be part of the vocabulary and practice of the ANC, what are the limits. I am sure a lot of people would be pleased to be part of the ANC if they knew that decisions of higher structures are not binding on a lower structure if the lower structure “strongly” disagrees with that decision, meaning it is only binding when the lower structure agrees.
I personally do not know Cde Julius Malema that much. But I personally know people who know him, who have shared their feeling of despair regarding the harsh sentence decided by NDC. He is our President and I share in the pain of the tragedy. But I also believe that this could have been avoided if it were not for what Mao Tse Tung calls “liberalism,” which I recommend (note the quote below) that my close friends and comrades who are close to Cde Julius read thoroughly. I further recommend it to every other comrade who cares about other comrades, the liberation movement and our revolution.
To cover how this could be avoided going forward and as a message to all members of the ANCYL NEC who are going to meet on Sunday, 04 March 2012 to take decisions on our behalf, I would like to conclude with a lengthy quote of the text by Chairman Mao that Cde Castro Ngobese shared with me a few years ago.
[in a strange event that you are an ANCYL member who does not like Communists, replace “Communist(s)” with “Economic Freedom Fighter(s)” when reading below.]
“Liberalism manifests itself in various ways.
To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.
To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one’s suggestions to the organization. To say nothing to people to their faces but to gossip behind their backs, or to say nothing at a meeting but to gossip afterwards. To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one’s own inclination. This is a second type.
To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame. This is a third type.
Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to one’s own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline. This is a fourth type.
To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly. This is a fifth type.
To hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened. This is a sixth type.
To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation or speak at meetings or conduct investigations and inquiries among them, and instead to be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well-being, forgetting that one is a Communist and behaving as if one were an ordinary non-Communist. This is a seventh type.
To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue. This is an eighth type.
To work half-heartedly without a definite plan or direction; to work perfunctorily and muddle along–“So long as one remains a monk, one goes on tolling the bell.” This is a ninth type.
To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution, to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study. This is a tenth type.
To be aware of one’s own mistakes and yet make no attempt to correct them, taking a liberal attitude towards oneself. This is an eleventh type.
Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. It is an extremely bad tendency.
Liberalism stems from petty-bourgeois selfishness, it places personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second, and this gives rise to ideological, political and organizational liberalism.
People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma. They approve of Marxism, but are not prepared to practice it or to practice it in full; they are not prepared to replace their liberalism by Marxism. These people have their Marxism, but they have their liberalism as well–they talk Marxism but practice liberalism; they apply Marxism to others but liberalism to themselves. They keep both kinds of goods in stock and find a use for each. This is how the minds of certain people work.
Liberalism is a manifestation of opportunism and conflicts fundamentally with Marxism. It is negative and objectively has the effect of helping the enemy; that is why the enemy welcomes its preservation in our midst. Such being its nature, there should be no place for it in the ranks of the revolution.
We must use Marxism, which is positive in spirit, to overcome liberalism, which is negative. A Communist should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the revolution as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution; always and everywhere he should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions, so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party and strengthen the ties between the Party and the masses; he should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any private person, and more concerned about others than about himself. Only thus can he be considered a Communist”
(Mao Tse Tung, Combat Liberalism, September 7, 1937)
I shall now sleep peacefully knowing I have made my views known, in time for the ANCYL NEC to do something about it. No, my views are not sponsored by anyone in a same way that no one had sponsored my views when I said, “I choose the demagogues, for now” and this open letter. I never try to be other people. And yes, I would accept that they are naive if you present to me new information or superior arguments properly substantiated.