In a bold resurgence, the newly elected leadership of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has expressed its unwavering commitment to revitalising the league and restoring the African National Congress (ANC) to its former glory as the voice of the people.
The party’s former Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, previously highlighted the disconnect between the ANC leadership and the citizens they serve during his diagnostic report to the 2017 ANC National Conference.
Critics have also accused ANC leaders of residing in opulence and only engaging with the public during election campaigns. However, ANCYL President Collen Malatji, in an interview with SABC News, emphasised that the Youth League aims to dispel the perception that the ANC solely caters to the affluent and elites.
After nearly a decade of relative inactivity, the ANC Youth League has reemerged with a resolute determination to become the definitive voice of South Africa’s youth. With the nation’s population skewing younger and the youth accounting for 60% of the total populace, Malatji has unequivocally stated that they will vigorously advocate for 50% youth representation in parliament.
Malatji asserted, “We are resolute in our stance and will not settle for anything less than 50% representation of young people in parliament and legislatures. Parliament should not be a retirement haven. We will tap into the wisdom of the remaining 50% of older representatives. However, we don’t need 80% of them in parliament. If we achieve 70%, we will consider it a success. We need to be the majority since the future belongs to us. We cannot plan for 2050 when the agenda is devised by someone who will not be answerable in the future. We must take accountability for our own future, and this leadership is unapologetic about it.”
New ANCYL leaders to push for 50% youth representation in Parliament:
The ANC Youth League is determined to transform the ANC into a genuine people’s movement, extending its focus beyond election periods. Malatji stressed the importance of returning to the basics and building robust grassroots structures that actively address the daily concerns of communities. Weak branches, he warned, result in a feeble connection with the people. He reiterated, “The role of branches is to tackle the complex issues faced by communities on a day-to-day basis.”
Dubbed the young lions of Oliver Tambo, the ANC Youth League plans to develop a comprehensive action plan for the next four years. In the interim, league officials will meet with members from the Chris Hani region in the Eastern Cape, where allegations of voting irregularities arose. Among those affected was Aphiwe Mkhangelwa, who lost the league presidency to former Congress of South African Students (COSAS) member Malatji. President Malatji emphasised the need to put divisions behind them and unite in support of the elected leadership.
Malatji stated, “Immediately after our National Executive Committee meeting, the Secretary General and I will visit the Eastern Cape to engage with the league’s leadership there and find common ground. We must unite and bring everyone on board because we need their participation. We cannot lead alone, even those who may feel dissatisfied. We must reconcile and consolidate our efforts, especially considering the challenging elections ahead. Although the problem was localised to the Chris Hani region in the Eastern Cape, we, as leaders, have the responsibility to resolve complex issues and conflicts.”
Furthermore, the league’s National Executive Committee (NEC) recently announced its 40-member team, further solidifying the ANC Youth League’s renewed vigour and commitment to serving the aspirations and concerns of South Africa’s young generation.
ANC Youth League New Leadership Media briefing: