EXCLUSIVE: Sifiso Mtsweni Vows To Unite The ANCYL

ANCYL NEC member, Sifiso Mtsweni. PICTURE: Refilwe Lekgothoane

CAPE TOWN: Mtsweni will hope his unity crusade that saw a united PEC in the Western Cape will be escalated to the upcoming elective congress of the youth league.

Sifiso Mtsweni, known as Tso in the political arena, vows to unite the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) ahead of its national congress. Mtsweni is among the contenders ahead of the Congress for the position of the deputy president. 

“The ANCYL is a preparatory school for the ANC. In essence, the youth league is a political school of the ANC,” said Mtsweni.

Many young people across all spectrum have come out strongly against the current ANCYL for failing to champion issues of young people such as poverty and the ever-increasing unemployment rate.

According to Mtsweni, “you need the youth league that understands the issues of development at the ground level in order to address the gloomy future for the youth. The unemployment rate has been the major concern for the youth of this country.”

The Sports Management graduate believes that sports can help young people to tackle issues such as crime, teenage pregnancy, and other societal issues.

Professionalisation of the ANCYL

The ANCYL, which has not been professionalised to this date, has come under scrutiny over the years, with many accusing the league of harboring uneducated and greedy individuals who want to climb the ladder through buying of membership by those who have more resources. In trying to fight this unwanted phenomenon, the ANC introduced a state of art membership system as a way of professionalising the party.

“The state of art membership of the ANC is the great invention that party has done since the advent of democracy and the ANCYL must follow suit so that you attract more young people to join the youth league. We must avert the normalized buying of membership of the ANCYL by those who have resources,” Mtsweni said.

“There is this tendency wherein those who have resources pays for membership in bulk and will subsequently become leaders of branches,” he added.

“It is this reason that I believe the state of art membership system is the solution to this phenomenon. There must be an online system which is centralized with an external service provider to manage it,” Mtsweni explained.

Project of ‘Unity’ in the Western Cape Province

ANCYL birthday celebration in the Western Cape province. PICTURE: ANCYL WP Facebook Page

Early this year, the Western Cape province embarked on an intensive and robust campaign behind Mtsweni. The province which has been ravished by divisions in all structures of the ANC, took an unpopular stance by ensuring that all contesting candidates from the youth league to the ANC, forms part of the unity. 

Mtsweni as a Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) member of the ANC and  ANCYL NEC member spearheaded the project of unity in the province.

“I took a decision to embark on a process of uniting the province. We said, as young people of Western Cape, how do we ensure that at the level of young people we unite for the betterment of the ANC as we embark on 2019 elections but also how do we unite young people as a whole as issues that face the youth are the same,” Mtsweni said. 

He said the project of unity was motivated by the fact that the province, which has produced a number of great leaders for the ANC, must continue to do so. 

“The Western Cape has produced a number of great leaders such as Joe Matthews, Chris Hani, Chris Nissen, Anton Fisch, Songezo Mjongile, Zizi Kodwa, Naledi Pandor, and many more. In order to continue to produce great leaders, we had to embark on the unity project and expose the best out of us” he added.  

As part of the project, Mtsweni had to ensure that earlier this year, the ANCYL provincial conference reached consensus and that there are no opposing factions leading up to the conference.

“For the first time in the history of the province, the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the ANCYL was uncontested and there was no external influence from the ANC leaders, young people decided their own fate,” he said.

“What is most significant about the outcome of the youth league conference is that we played a role in uniting young people,” said Mtsweni.

Tso or Nothing!

Mtsweni doing a walkabout during the league's voter mobilisation. PICTURE: ANCYL Facebook Page

The Western Cape has come under heavy criticism ahead of the youth league Congress after it came out with a slogan behind Mtsweni’s bid to become the deputy president.

“The youth league in the province took a decision in its congress to say that we will work with presidential contestants that support the position of the Western Cape on the Deputy President,” he said.

This led to the slogan dubbed as Tso or Nothing. 

Music mogul and the current Treasurer-General of the youth league, Reginald “Reggie” Nkabinde has come out in support of the Western Cape position leading up to the Congress.

According to Mtsweni, “So far, comrades who are aligned to the campaign to have the current Treasurer-General, Reginald “Reggie” Nkabinde as president have welcomed and agreed to work with the province to realize the position of the Western Cape and we have since welcome that.”

Support in Provinces

Mtsweni has been the leading candidate for the deputy president supported by all nine provinces, the Republic Mail has been reliably been told.

The Western Cape has been at the forefront in calling for his name to be the deputy president of the youth league. Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, and North Cape are also firmly behind the man often told that he is the current president of the ANCYL for his passion for youth development. Provinces such as the North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and Free State have not clearly shown any indication to support the view but seem to be highly divided ahead of the national congress.

When asked about the number of provinces and regions that supports his candidate, Mtsweni said, “it will be premature to determine which province support me as Branch Annual General Meeting have not yet made pronouncements.”

Mtsweni will hope his unity crusade that saw a united PEC in the Western Cape will be escalated to the upcoming elective congress of the youth league. The ANCYL positions are fiercely contested by two rival factions led by KZN ANCYL provincial secretary, Thanduxolo Sabelo and Nkabinde. 

The ANCYL will hold its elective congress on 17 – 21 October.