On Monday, 18 March 2013, the ANC Secretary General, Cde Gwede Mantashe announced the ANC NEC decision to dissolve the NEC of the ANCYL. The merits and demerits of the ANC NEC decision are moot at this point. However, there is an imminent appointment of the ANCYL National Task Team (NTT) to assume (some) duties of the ANCYL NEC.
The work of the NTT will be somewhat burdensome. Part of the ANC NEC decision was to halt any plans that were already underway for the regional congresses and provincial congresses. The NTT will have the daunting task to assist the organization to rebuild its structures which should culminate in the ANCYL 25th National Conference sometime in future whose date, the ANC NEC did not specify.
Members of the ANCYL, PYA structures, young people and the general public await, with bated breath, the appointment of the NTT.
Among others, the NTT will have to consist of people who possess the political acumen and discipline to guide the ANCYL structures but also the humility necessary to earn the respect, and win the confidence, of ANCYL members. Members of the NTT need not be arrogant and rely only on the fact that they are appointed by the ANC NEC as justification for demanding respect or exercising their powers disproportionately.
Obviously, in discharging their work, the NTT might face pockets of resistance. How those pockets of resistance are dealt with will go a long way in determining whether the NTT efforts to rebuild the organization will yield the different results from what they have found it to be. This does not mean the NTT should be disempowered to enforce discipline where necessary, but whether discipline is exercised as an instrument of last resort will further give a preview of the organization the NTT will hand over at the 25th National Conference.
The NTT has a responsibility, for both their own integrity and for the integrity of the ANC NEC that appointed them, to ensure that they do not actively work towards delivering the 25th National Conference to themselves. The task of rebuilding the organization should not be for the sole purpose of ensuring that they are elected.
Therefore, members of the NTT will have to exercise restraint from the temptation to adjust the outcomes of regional congresses and provincial congresses in their favour. If they are able to exercise such restraint, it will go a long way in demonstrating, in practice, how democracy should be.
In addition to considering all the matters above, the ANC NWC will also have to consider two other matters in appointing the ANCYL NTT.
Firstly, that the NTT collective will appoint is the one that is likely to drive the consultation and make a contribution, on behalf of the ANCYL, to the ANC Election Manifesto for the national elections in 2014. In this regard, the NTT will also have to lead the mobilization of young people in the country to register and vote for the ANC. Hence the decision of the ANC NWC will be very crucial in carefully choosing who will form part of the NTT collective.
Secondly, the process of appointment of the NTT should protect the ANCYL from being puppets of ANC NEC members or any other external puppet master. Indeed, the NTT will have the responsibility to report back to the ANC NEC regularly on its work. But this does not mean there has to be puppet masters in the ANC NEC who are controlling the work of the NTT remotely. The appointment of the NTT by the ANC NWC should signal adequate vote of confidence on the appointed collective such that it won’t need to be micromanaged.
The ANCYL members will have to shoulder their responsibility of cooperating with the NTT. The NTT should be given the respect it deserves and as far as possible be allowed space to do its work. But this does not mean members should blindly follow the NTT. The point is that members will have to replace the swearing, insults and howling with genuine, well-reasoned arguments. Members should be prepared to persuade and to be persuaded.
Among other things, the ANC NEC statement said the decisions of the disbanded ANCYL NEC stand and by implication this would include the 24th National Conference resolutions. The NTT will have the responsibility to advance those resolutions, including, but not limited to, elements of the Economic Freedom Programme such as the establishment of the 8 Industrial Development Zones and the establishment of Youth Ministry.
I thought it timely that I express an opinion before the NTT is appointed so that no one takes offence at the content of this text or assumes that this is a veiled reference their incapacity. I am confident that the NTT will be a collective of people who are open to engagement and are tolerant of divergent views.
If there is an emergence of a “shadow culture” in the ANC as alluded to by the 2010 ANC NGC discussion documents, then the NTT should ensure that the generation of the ANCYL that gathers at the 25th National Conference is free of that “shadow culture”. Hence the NTT, itself, will have to be a collective of individuals with an impeccable reputation and not renowned for factional battles. It should be the generation that will restore the culture of selfless struggle and service that characterized the first generation of the ANCYL.
The overwhelming majority of the unemployed young people of South Africa have the ANCYL and the ANC as their only hope. They want jobs, free quality education and economic opportunities.
If we believe that the future of the ANC depends on the ANCYL, then we need a strong and politically developed ANCYL. If we fail on any of these, we will not only fail the ANCYL but we will also fail the future of the ANC.
As a member of both the ANC and ANCYL, I have full confidence in the wisdom of the ANC NEC and NWC to make the correct decisions in the best interest of the future of the ANC.
Bayanda Mzoneli is a member of the ANC and ANCYL at Ward 23, Musa Dladla Region, KwaZulu Natal