ANC Youth League back on table


The 57% elections victory of the ANC in the sixth national elections demonstrates that this liberation movement will still be in government at least for the next decade.If the administration of President Cyril Ramaphosa can do an excellent job, then the ANC’s hold on power could stretch further than my timeframe prediction.One of the significant features of Ramaphosa’s new cabinet this time around was the selection of young people to serve in the national executive.Also, the average age of members of parliament has also dropped, mainly due to the ANC, DA, and EFF putting forward young leaders on their benches.These are positive developments which show that our society is beginning to unfold its natural trajectory, wherein the young who were born and educated in the democratic dispensation are now taking responsibility to shape the future of the next generation.No doubt that youthful leadership in the next few years will also filter to other institutions. What is beginning to be put back on the table though is the status of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).If the current cabinet and membership of the national assembly is anything to go by, then the ANCYL will definitely be a crucial organisation in the life of the ANC and survival of the country’s government.The ANCYL produces leaders for the ANC government.Six years ago, the new minister of justice and correctional services was the deputy president of the ANCYL.Today, he will be making sure that you and I abide by the country’s constitution in our daily practices.The current ANCYL secretary-general is the new deputy minister of home affairs.He will be handling your passport and visa applications, among many other things that are crucial to the status of your citizenship.Therefore, the ANCYL is where this government gets its leaders from.In other words, if the current president of the ANCYL has an appetite for easy money and a value system of accepting full pay for a half-day’s work, then be prepared to have an unethical minister of the national executive in 2024.The current debate that is beginning to be put on the table regarding the quality of leadership who should be elected to serve in the ANCYL is too important to ignore.Its membership is currently opened to any young South African between the ages of 14-35. I believe though that this should be reviewed.The ANCYL must have foresight to make more of its leaders become the government of the day in the immediate future.Changing the membership age group to 14-29 would ensure a 30-year-old from their ranks is already challenging to be the next leader of the ANC government and business.This trend could make it possible for SA to finally have a president who is below the age of 45, which is the current norm in the global north.Nevertheless, in the current context of SA and the ANCYL, the 14-35 age group are expected to either be at school, university, in the job market, or heavily unemployed.It is an age group who are in direct contact with everything the country does on policy and budgeting concerning the economy, education, and health.These are crucial social systems to pay attention to as a society because ordinarily, countries which have a youth who have a high standard of living are those who usually perform well on their economic indicators and education outcomes.In our case, our levels of inequality, youth unemployment, and an education system that is delivered without an economic plan alongside it, all become social ingredients for a country that should have a youth revolt daily.On the other hand, these pressing challenges are enough reasons as to why the ANCYL should exist as a critical voice in our democracy, responsible for raising youth matters and also producing an educated class of quality men and women who will be admirable leaders of the current epoch.The primary interest of ANCYL members should be on building an effective and exciting organisation for all young people from all walks of life to belong to.Such a league must be a true embodiment of their genuine and deepest aspirations.It must be relevant to them.It must be an organisation that they first think of when they come across socio-economic challenges. From just its practical actions, it must be an organisation which young people can understand and believe that it is showing them the right direction.These attributes will depend on the quality of the leadership it elects.The priority of the ANCYL’s leadership and what will determine its relevance will be its capacity to be an institutional source of political and ideological renewal within the ANC; sustaining a radical trend of strategic interventions on pressing issues facing society, and a consistent voice of critique for the ANC in redirecting it back to its radical approach in dealing with such questions.In large measure, it cannot claim to be impactful or revolutionary unless it consistently puts on the table the significant changes that should be rolled out by the democratic government in transforming and democratising the property relations of SA.● Pedro Mzileni is a PhD sociology candidate at Nelson Mandela University

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