ANC's Young Lions need to take charge of their future, says former leader
"No one is coming to make you relevant to the youth of South Africa. You are on your own."
This was the message from former ANC Youth League secretary general Vuyiswa Tuleto.
Tuleto addressed hundreds of youth via Facebook on Sunday, with a strong focus on rebuilding the now defunct "preparatory school for the ANC" to its former glory.
Now South African high commissioner to New Zealand, Tuleto did not mince her words when diagnosing the challenges facing the Young Lions and suggesting a way forward.
"You are the only ones who can change the perceptions of what the ANCYL is. You have history for reference. Nobody is coming to tell you that you are not an opposition party to the ANC, but a critical think tank responsible for creating and developing a second layer leadership to the ANC," she said.
The league has struggled to hold a conference since 2018, and this resulted in the executive, led by former president Collen Maine, being disbanded.
This was the second dissolution of the structure, with the previous one being when now-EFF leader Julius Malema was president in 2012.
During her tenure, Tulelo was credited for ensuring the smooth running of the league’s second 2008 conference, held at Nasrec in Johannesburg, and the 2011 conference at Gallagher estate in Midrand.
She illustrated the "critical" role of a robust ANCYL by drawing from its inception and subsequent role in the creation of the armed wing of the ANC to the collaboration of the YL and ANC Women's League in the mother body adopting gender parity as its policy.
"The basic function of the league is to rally young people behind the banner of the ANC, pushing the ANC to transform policy wise. It is the function of the ANCYL to raise issues when the mother body becomes complacent," she said.
Tuleto said the culture of disruptions and shouting had no place in the youth league, and the organisation must rebuild and organise itself not just as a critical body of opinion, but with autonomy.
"You influence the mother body with the quality of documents you produce to influence the ANC. The league cannot influence the ANC if it does not exist. The youth league cannot influence the ANC if it cannot take itself to congress," she said.
Failure to do this, she said, would result in the ANC being an arena of experimenting and making mistakes, which she said should only be allowed in the league.
"The youth league is a preparatory school because once we have done experimenting we have to put that into the ANC. Experimenting cannot happen in the ANC. Only the best are going to the ANC," she said.
Tulelo called on the ANC and the ANCYL to go back to the drawing board and rework their relationship as it was "flawed at both ends and there should be a reflection on both sides".
"What we seek to do is to rally young people behind the banner of the ANC through programmes and policies for the youth.
"An ANCYL that is a powerhouse, a think tank of young people that will bring change to how the ANC does business, is what you need to rebuild towards," she said.