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By Stephen Tau


PODCAST: The rise and fall of the ANC Youth League

‘Not everyone who joined the ANC did so to advance the struggle of the poor,’ which could explain the league's battle to remain relevant.

The ANC’s youth wing has not had a permanent leadership structure for the longest time, with many questioning whether the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has any hope of being revived.

The league has been hobbling along and plagued by scandals since the expulsion of Julius Malema from the ANC.

Senior digital reporter for The Citizen Stephen Tau invited the author of the book titled The Rise and Fall of the ANC Youth League by Rebone Tau to talk about the challenges of the ANC’s youth wing and what it would take to return them to relevance.

Tau believes one of the main obstacles the league faces is that “not everyone who joined the ANC did so to advance the struggle of the poor”, which means many of its senior members are only seeking to enrich themselves and gain power, alienating them from those they are meant to represent.

Listen to the discussion here:

The beginning of the ANCYL’s end

Malema, now leader of the third biggest political party in the country, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has been described as one of the most powerful leaders that the ANC youth league has ever produced.

Malema was expelled from the ANC in 2012, after being found guilty of offences ranging from comparing former president Jacob Zuma unfavourably to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, and his ‘distasteful’ comments about regime change in the neighbouring Botswana.

Several ANC leaders, including current deputy president David Mabuza, have in the past called for the return of Malema to the party.

ALSO READ: ANCYL joins Mabuza’s call for Malema to return to ANC

Another ANC leader Fikile Mbalula has also spoken out about how he defended Malema when he was still in the youth league.

ALSO READ: I defended Malema before he was expelled – Mbalula

The ANC Youth League was scheduled to hold its elective conference in 2020, but that was postponed indefinitely.

The league has not had a permanent leadership structure since the leadership of former leader Collen Maine.

Maine was elected on the eve of his 35th birthday. However, his leadership structure has since been disbanded.

ALSO READ: Has ‘eldership’ infiltrated ANC Youth League task team?

Legacy of Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu

The idea of the formation of the ANC Youth League dates back many years ago.

It was in 1943 when young people such as the late Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo among others met in Soweto to discuss the formation of a youth league because they felt, at the time, that the older generation of the ANC had become too conservative and could not relate to the youth.

The youth league has since its formation, had different charismatic and powerful leaders who were not afraid to speak their minds.

1950-1960: Nelson Mandela

1991-1994: Peter Mokaba

1996-2004: Malusi Gigaba

2004-2008: Fikile Mbalula

2008-2012: Julius Malema

The Citizen Talk with Stephen Tau Podcast is available to listen to on www.citizen.co.za.

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