Ayanda Matiti, protégé of ANC Youth League President Julius Malema, was announced as the new chairperson of the Eastern Cape provincial ANCYL on Sunday. This puts Malema in a stronger position for the 2011 ANCYL national elections.
The Eastern Cape seat was crucial to Malema, whose candidate was defeated in Gauteng last week.
Delegates voted at Joza Indoor Sports Centre last weekend. This followed four failed attempts to hold the meeting, due to heavy political infighting between supporters of Matiti and his rival, Mawanda Ndakisa.
The conference got off to a dramatic start after the media was barred from entering, despite being officially invited to the event by the national spokesman for the ANCYL, Floyd Shivambu. Dozens of armed police officers controlled the visibly frustrated press, while around 100 delegates were prevented from attending. Youth League Secretary-General Vuyiswa Tulelo told journalists that they would not be allowed in, calling it a “closed session.”
Malema, his deputy Andile Lungisa and Deputy Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula made a grand entrance in a convoy of Mercedes Benz. Malema said they were there to “oversee the elections”. As Malema addressed delegates inside the hall on Saturday morning, Simpiwe Mayekiso, a delegate and chairperson for the ANCYL in Cofimvaba was literally thrown out of the event by security guards after he made a remark in opposition to Malema. “Malema said ‘Whether you like it or not the conference will proceed,’ and I just raised my hand and said ‘Malema, this is not your conference,’ and then he ordered his security to take me outside,” said Mayekiso.
Voting began at 11pm after hours of chaos and ran through the night, finishing at 6.30am on Sunday. The provincial executive committee was announced at 7am. The SABC reported Matiti won by 439 votes. However Antonio Carels, general secretary for the Congress of South African Students (Cosas), and the ANCYL delegate for branch 275 of East London, said Matiti won by 140 votes. “The flawed process had not been properly addressed,” he said. Carels mentioned “ghost delegates,” with more than 1 000 delegates voting despite the official figure of 725.
Mzukisi Ndabeni will be the new provincial secretary, Thandolwethu Manda is the deputy chairman, and Nombeko Mazwi has been elected as treasurer.
Speaking to the media as the newly elected chairperson, Matiti said, “We are going to provide leadership that will be disciplined.” The conference was the first time the provincial and national leaders had met since the ANC had to step in and settle internal disputes.
Commenting on the recent internal rift between the ANCYL’s national and provincial sectors, Matiti said: “We might have differences in personality but not ideology.” He added, however, that he would lead the province without national interference. Addressing the media after the conference on Sunday, Malema said, “We are determining our future. We don’t need the permission of any elders. We are in charge of the ANCYL; we don’t need to be diplomatic about this.”
“Fight on the ground”
“We must fight on the ground, not spend time in restaurants and hotels,” he said, taking a stab at recent allegations of ANC cabinet ministers accused of spending state funds on luxury hotels. “We have made them [the ANC] who they are, you are nothing without us. If they want to fight against the youth they will never win.”
The provincial executive committee (PEC) recently took the ANCYL National Executive Committee to court after they were disbanded. In July, a Grahamstown High Court order prevented the congress from going ahead without its full participation and ruled that the PEC be reinstated.
Malema referred sarcastically to the PEC delegates: “People go to court here and we sit with them under the same roof, laugh with them, and call them comrades,” he said. “I didn’t take ANC to court when they mistreated me,” he said referring to when he was reprimanded by the ANC for calling the late Eugene Terre-blanche a racist.
Addressing the public servants strikes, he urged the crowd not to encourage violence, especially toward nurses and teachers who continue to work. “Nobody here is anti-Cosatu or anti-Communist,” he said. “We are a disciplined force of the left, but we don’t need to wear red socks,” he emphasised. “The Communist Party has failed to take over the ANC Youth league,” he added.
Malema referred to comments made by Blade Nzimande, the South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary, saying “we will never surrender to Blade and his people. You are dealing with a different animal here”.
Regarding the conflict with the Eastern Cape, Mbalula said in closing, “we’ve got to act harshly or this organisation will go to the dogs,” adding “we are not breeding dictators, we are breeding democrats”.
“Anarchy has prevailed”
Mzwamadoda Matanzima, branch chairperson of the ANCYL in the Amatola region, East London, said “Anarchy has prevailed. Today marks the beginning of a dark era.” He said the ANCYL are attempting to disband the Amatola district because it doesn’t support Malema.