Tensions flare between Free State ANC and Youth League over military training invite

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The African National Congress (ANC) and the ANC Youth League National Task Team are on a collision course over the Free State ANC Youth League Fezile Dabi region’s invitation to members to sign up for military training.

While the mother body has called for heads to roll, the Task Team has vowed to defend them.

The invitation, embellished with pictures of the organisation’s logo and two guns, advertises the camp as offering basic military training, hiking, gun handling, guerrilla tactics and political education.


It says members who are committed to defending the revolution and are combatants for Africans are invited to attend.

The invitation comes just a week after racial tensions flared in the Free State town of Senekal when white farmers attempted to take the law into their hands over the murder of farm manager Brenden Horner.

However, Deputy Regional Secretary of the ANC Youth League Fezile Dabi region Thabo Baleni says the military camp is to tackle the perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence and human trafficking.

“This programme is made by the ANC Youth League in response to the current issues we are facing as a country, gender-based violence that is on-going. The issue of human trafficking, we are no longer feeling safe and protected. We believe that this programme is supposed to be meeting the government halfway in as far as trying to curb the challenges so it is in no way a form of saying an encouragement or incitement to violence but to say it is for self-protection.”

Baleni insists that the body is autonomous and is not required to consult with either the national leadership of the party or the league about its programmes.

“There are a number of programmes that we have championed in the youth interest and there has not been any consultation with the ANC NEC in that regard. It is not the practice in the ANC that the region would do the programmes in consultation with the ANC or the ANCYL national. There would have to be a basis on which we are told why this programme would not necessarily be good if the ANC Youth League in the national would have a problem which this perhaps they should outline what they see as best for the country. ”

ANC National Spokesperson, Pule Mabe, has rubbished Baleni’s claims of autonomy – calling the invitation and its illegal contents an attention-seeking ploy.

He says action must be taken against members of the Free State ANC Youth League’s Fezile Dabi region.

“What the structure of the ANCYL must be doing in that province they have got to look at possibilities of referring charges against their own structure in that province. The Youth League has organised its programmes as long as those programmes are legal and are within what the ANC stands for the Youth League is not going to organise a programme that goes against the values of the ANC  and the ANC keeps quiet, it is not going to happen, and I have spoken to the provincial secretary of the ANCYL, he has told us already that they have written a letter to their own structure of the ANCYL. We are expecting them to take action, there must not be even suspending they must take action. ”

However, the ANC Youth League National Task Team has leapt to the region’s defence. The Task Team is currently administering the affairs of the ANC Youth League after its disbandment in 2019 as a result of its failure to convene a long-overdue elective conference.

Task Team’s Sizophila Mkhize says the body has spoken to the ANC Youth League region’s leadership who have agreed to retract the invitation and apologise for their conduct.

She says while the Task Team says it does not condone their behaviour, they are amongst those who were simply trying to assist in defending the ANC against racist elements in the Free State town of Senekal.

“We don’t agree with the ANC. The ANC needs to understand that when it is not doing anything,  young people are going to do something because right now the ANC is folding its arms. We are the ones who ran to Senekal last week and made sure that they reopen the case. They never followed that up so the ANC cannot want to fold arms and when young people want to do what they want to do then they say heads must roll. No heads must roll and if the ANC wants to test us on this one they must try to do any sort of suspension or expulsion of our members. We are going to protect our members as much as we don’t agree with what they have done we have a way of solving it. ”