04 May 2012

ANCYL: crisis, what crisis?

If having your leadership expelled from the mothership for bad behaviour is not a crisis, what on earth would qualify as one, asks Susan Erasmus.


Denial is such a handy thing. If having the top structure of your organisation expelled from the mothership for bad behaviour is not a crisis, what on earth would qualify as one?

Maybe a volcanic explosion, an assassination or two, no more oxygen on earth or the arrival of the auditors from SARS. Or the possible return of Carl Niehaus.

Whether the denial of crisis stations in the ANCYL is based on bravery, or utter stupidity remains to be seen. These two things have often in history been uncomfortably close.

But if I were handed the baton of the position of president of the ANC youth league as a belated birthday present, I would, at best go and hide out incommunicado in a farmhouse somewhere remote, such as Nababeep. (Bring me my binoculars, my Rottweiler and my survivalist handbook).

At worst, I would wake up in civilization decidedly uneasy and take two tranquilisers before switching on my cellphone. Make that three. Because right now there is a lot to cope with. For the sake of 'crisis-what-crisis' Ronald Lamola, current deputy president of the league, might I highlight  a few of the things that he possibly should concern himself with:

  • The exit of the previous president, Julius Malema, was ungracious to say the least. The endless round of expulsions and appeals served only to make him look even less gracious. He's a bit like a boyfriend who only accepts it's over when he loses the court case for stalking his ex. There's a time to go, and Julius waited until the party was completely over, so to speak.
  • The league is in disarray countrywide. In fact, in Limpopo, two weeks ago matters went as far as separate youth league conferences being convened at two different venues. Two thousand members were then bussed to Malema's house for a short visit and a few canapés, I presume. This chaos is not restricted to members of the youth league, or ANC lite, as I like to think of it. There seems to be huge in-fighting among the top brass too.
  • The hand that feeds him was bitten by his predecessor. And it has not taken a very long time for the predecessor to realise that biting the hand that feeds you means you struggle to pay your gardener or to complete your Sandton mansion. By all accounts building work has stopped. Welcome to the real world, where there is a connection between performance and reward.
  • SARS is moving in. If irregularities are found in Malema's personal finances, where do you think the next stop will be? Anyone for a youth festival?
  • Malema is still out there – a loose cannon, but penniless. And designer suits cost money. It is unlikely, but one serious backer could put him back on the field. Be nervous, be very nervous.
  • No hotel or conference venue will rent you space or furniture. Not without very big deposits being paid up front. They are still fishing pieces of the chairs out of the swimming pool after last time, and their insurers cancelled their policy.
  • President Jacob Zuma gets a nervous twitch every time someone mentions the Youth League. He knows that the best predictor of the future is the past. And the last four years he has possibly been considering bringing back corporal punishment as a presidential perk.

So my advice to crisis-what-crisis Ronald Lamola would be to ignore all of this, eat as much as he can at the buffets (who knows where his next meal may come from?), postpone a few of the crucial meetings in order to prolong his term, and not to get embroiled in trying to sort out any of these country-wide rifts.

Innocent bystanders often get caught in the crossfire when politics turn nasty. Get what you can while you can, but make a point of checking the back exits. You may need them suddenly.

Was that my Rottweiler barking?

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, May2012)






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