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ANC plans to curb conspicuous consumption in bid to ‘captivate the youth’

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The party believes there is a widening “trust deficit” between it and young people

CASH-flush and flashy ANC leaders and members who rack up huge booze bills, drive luxury cars and wear expensive clothes are hurting the governing party and could soon have their wings clipped. The ANC is promising to curb conspicuous consumption among its leaders and members in a bid to “captivate the youth” again.

In the ANC’s discussion document for its upcoming national general council (NGC) on youth, the party admits there is a widening trust deficit between it, young people, who see the organisation “as an animal that speaks left and walks right”, and to a certain extent their parents, and believes this poses an existential threat to its image and appeal.

“It must be addressed with urgency to halt the widening trust deficit,” the party promises.

The ANC blames its leaders who behave like popular celebrities and are known for big bills at nightclubs, luxury cars and clothing. According to the ANC, this perception only serves to hurt the 109-year-old organisation as a political movement.

”We attract people who are excited by two-metre long alcohol bills for tens of thousands of rand. More dangerously, it says to the public the ANC leadership gets rich and spends the people’s money on expensive alcohol and fancy cars,” reads the document.

The ANC believes this hurts the party’s credibility among poor South Africans and others who find the behaviour crass, and that challenging this behaviour is also important if the ANC is to lead the country out of its drug and alcohol problem.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday undertook that the party will ensure that the ANC Youth League holds its long-delayed conference early this year.

“This will help to bring an end to the shameful era of division and inactivity. We need to engage the young people of our country more actively and directly, and ensure that they are able to participate in the programmes of the organisation,” Ramaphosa said.

The ANCYL’s last national leadership structure was elected in September 2015 and disbanded in July 2019.

According to the ANC, there is also the perception that the party functions in terms of patronage networks and the politics of gatekeeping further contribute to driving a wedge between it and the youth.

“There is a need for us to revive the ANCYL as it can serve as an antithesis to the above perceptions as well as be a fighting and mobilising force to meet challenges faced by the youth,” the party explains of its youth league’s troubles.

It acknowledges that the EFF, which is led by ex-ANCYL president Julius Malema and other former governing party members, has been able to capture many young minds due to the ANC’s dormant youth league, which it says has lost its radical and militant approach on young people’s issues.

“At the moment, the youth league and youth structures of the ANC are not considered as structures that represent young people,” the party states.

In the upcoming congress, the ANC wants strong female representation and educated youth leaders to make its youth wings more inclusive.

This week, the ANCYL crisis committee, which is made up of young ANC members concerned about the state of the youth league, warned there was a threat of its complete collapse with the national task team at the helm.

– Political Bureau