‘We Can’t Be Led By Elders,’ Says Revive ANCYL Group

Julius Malema addresses the 24th national conference of the ANC Youth League, in June 2011.

The ANC Youth League’s current leadership is ‘illegitimate’, has rendered the organisation ‘dysfunctional’, and cannot relate to the issues facing the youth of South Africa. This is the assertion made by the lobby group Revive ANCYL, which is seeking to pressure the African National Congress to intervene. The Daily Vox spoke to the group to learn more.

Over the last few months, several groups within the ANCYL have staged demonstrations, calling for the national executive committee of the league to be disbanded, and for a new conference to be called. 

These members have complained that it is being run by “elders” masquerading as youth. Collen Maine has been president for the past five years, and has received heavy criticism for the “sorry state” of the league under his tenure from Revive ANCYL. 

The call for the ‘dead’ ANCYL to be disbanded came from different provinces, with different marches held throughout. In KwaZulu-Natal alone, hundreds of ANCYL members marched marched through the Durban streets to the Pixley KaSeme House to demand ANC’s intervention in disbandment of ‘illegitimate’ NEC.

Absence of Youth Voices

Among many grievances, the Revive ANCYL Movement says the league has over the years become dysfunctional because its leadership is beyond the 35-year cut-off.

Revive ANCYL spokesperson Ntuthuko Makhombothi said the current leadership doesn’t understand nor relate to the issues faced by South African youth, hence the call for young people to be recruited into leadership positions.

“The youth league’s task is to champion the interest of young people, and young people are the centre of the economy of South Africa where we speak about different challenges such as unemployment and other social ills affecting them because they are at the receiving end of brutality of the current status quo in terms of our economy, ” he said in an interview with the Daily Vox. 

Election results

Although the ANC won this year’s general elections, the figures were astoundingly low as compared to the previous years. Revive ANCYL says the organisation has failed to get the youth rally behind the banner of the ANC, hence the numbers.

“If you’re looking at the election results they tell you what the people are saying. Already in the 214 election we had seen how the ANC lost a number of youth votes, a lot of them went to the EFF. In 2016 under this leadership, this thing continued and now it’s worse now in 2019.

“You could see that the ANC is losing the youth vote and that is not unexpected because you can’t have the president of the youth league who is already over 35 years who is supposed to be the face of the organisation,” Makhombothi said.


Although calls for intervention have been called by the movement, Makhombothi says there are those who won’t support their cause due to their own interests of benefiting from the system.

“There are those in the inside who want the status quo to remain because they are beneficiaries, that’s why some of them have not resigned even though we have made this call,” he said.

Makhombothi is confident that the group has garnered tremendous support from scores of organisation members.

“We’ve received quite a positive response from the members of the youth league. When we had the first march in May it was only 20 of us who marched to the ANC offices but we have been growing quite significantly across the country. People are contacting us, some through social media and saying they agree with us,” Makhombothi said.

He says the calls for intervention from the ANC is by the concerned members of the ANCYL and is by no way an attack on the parent party.

“We are ordinary members of the ANCYL and we are concerned about the state of the ANCYL. We are not marching against the ANC, we are not attacking the leadership of the ANCYL in any way. 

“All we are doing is raising our concerns about the state of the youth league, and I think everybody who is under the leadership of the ANCYL they know the state of the organisation. We want the ANC to exercise its constitutional power to intervene when ANCYL is having a crisis,” he said.

Court action

The group has written a letter to the ANC demanding intervention in their calls for youth league leadership dissolution, and were resolute that should there be any failure from the ANC to meet their demands, they would resort to legal action. However, Makhombothi says that the court action would be their last resort.

“From the time we first marched we did outline the concerns were raising and our demands. The letter we sent was to request the response to our memorandum and we did indicate that as a last resort, after exhausting all processes internally we would be approaching the court. But we are aware that there’s an upcoming ANC ENC meeting, so we want to give the ANC a chance to deal with this issue. We do believe it is going to be on the agenda that is going to be discussed, so it would be premature to speak of the court action before that meeting,” he said.

Upcoming Conference

Meanwhile the majority of the organisation stand firm on their call for disbandment, Makhombothi says some are convinced the crisis within the youth league could be addressed by going to conference, in which a new leadership is elected.

“Generally, the majority of the youth league members do agree that there’s a crisis in the ANCYL and that crisis must be fixed. The discussion may be how is it to be fixed, we are saying the ANCYL leadership must be disbanded; others are saying let’s go to conference.

“We are saying we can’t go to conference with people who no longer have a mandate, but generally we all agree that something must happen,” he said.

Featured image by Sipho Hlongwane