African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Collen Maine told a gathering of Sasco students and ANCYL members that former youth league leaders such as Malusi Gigaba, Fikile Mbabula, Lulu Johnson and “preferably” himself should be contenders for the presidency.
“We must continue today that after President Ramaphosa one of this generation I’ve spoken about: Malusi Gigaba, Lulu Johnson, Fikile Mbalula and myself, one of us must be president and preferably myself,” he said, a comment that was met with laughter and applause, according to IOL.
The ANCYL leader appeared to be fighting for the relevance of the youth wing of the governing party, as well as for young people in general to be taken seriously within the movement as leaders.
According to Maine, people should not just be elected because “they appear too much on TV”. The “old blood” in the party, he added, has “reached a ceiling”.
“They enjoy being madams and chiefs because when you’re ministers and MECs, civil servants call you chief or madam and you enjoy that and you forget about the manifesto of the ANC particularly as it relates to youth development,” Maine said.
He also expressed the view that the ANC currently has not made good on its promises to back its youth.
“At this hour the ANC needs young people to take over, at the last conference we took a position that 40% of everything in the ANC and the government must be young people. We have not achieved that because the ANC has given us 20%,” he said.
“We must continue to strive for that because the Women’s League started at 30% but they today have 50% so we must not tire in engaging in the struggle for 40%,” he added.
He also admitted that he himself should step down and make way for young blood, making comments which appeared to be an endorsement of the ANCYL’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary, Thanduxolo Sabelo – including a reference to Sabelo’s slogan “one direction” – as the next ANCYL president.
“We cannot afford to have a president who’s not within the age limit of young people, so the youth league needs someone who can loudhail and resonate your view, I can’t loudhail anymore,” Maine said.
The Mail & Guardian reported in January that Ramaphosa told a gathering at a rally that the ANCYL would play an important part in the party’s election campaign.
However, the publication also reported that Maine himself, who spoke at the event, was “largely ignored” by the crowd at the event, which reportedly “spoke over him”.