Fikile Mbalula, the ANC secretary-general, has backed youth league president Collen Malatji after Malatji made a jab at employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi.
Malatji openly chastised Nxesi at his concluding address at the ANC Youth League’s 26th national convention in the Free State.
He claimed that Nxesi appeared to be the “minister of unemployment” and that he should be fired. “I don’t know when we are removing him but it’s an urgent matter,” Malatji said.
Mbalula said at the ANC 2019 election manifesto review that there was nothing wrong with the youth league publicly criticizing the ANC. He described the youth league as a ‘necessary irritation’ that was free to interact with the government.
“Sometimes we may not see things young people see. They are responsible to provide ideas, apart from just being a necessary irritation.
“Ideas are not insults, it is about arguing in the revolution to say: ‘Comrades, you are selling out the revolution for these reasons’.
“We do not expect our youth to always be on the right path, but we have to share with them our experiences of the past.”
Mbalula stated that the youth should not be kept quiet, but that there was no need to directly attack party members.
“When I said Pravin must move, I didn’t say personal things about him. I was attacking the content of government infrastructure on the issue of logistics and freight and implementing the policy of the ANC from moving goods from road to rail.
“We do not believe the youth league is incorrect and it is why we said it is regrettable to call a comrade a yellow communist and isolate him from the pack and attack him.
“The youth league is led by the ANC, it does not invent its own policy. If they go into meetings and discuss that for us to move faster we need this intervention in terms of the policy, they must sell it to the ANC,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ANC issued a statement in response to Malatji’s remarks, stating that it does not tolerate insults directed at party members.
“The youth league represents a strong body of opinion within our organisation and society towards the fulfilment of its twin tasks — advancing the ideals of a democratic society and the development of young people.
“Whilst the ANC encourages the youth league to robustly and outspokenly pursue the interests of young people, we urge this should be done without denigrating personalities,” he said.
It said critical thought should be premised on substantive analysis and solution-based thinking. “As such, the ANC takes exception to the utterances by the youth league on Thulas Nxesi,” he said.