Barely a few hours after Zuma delivered his address to the 2 700 delegates attending the league’s national conference in Midrand, a dominant group aligned to the so-called Premier League distributed a list of candidates containing names of candidates who needed to be elected to the league’s national executive committee. 

Out of the thirty-five names on the list, eight were from KwaZulu-Natal and five each from Mpumalanga, Free State, and Limpopo. North West had four names.
Whenever a name on the list was raised from the floor, youth league delegates belonging to the dominant faction were encouraged to raise their hands in support and gave cold shoulders to any proposed candidate not on the preferred list. 

Observers for the nomination process for elections included senior ANC leaders such as Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, former spy boss and ANC NEC member Billy Masetlha and deputy Rural Development Minister Mcebisi Skwasha. 

Slates politics were made fashionable prior to the ANC elective conference in Polokwane in 2007, where Zuma defeated former president Thabo Mbeki to become the new ANC leader. Since then, slates have been the order of the day in almost all ANC elections from branch, regional, provincial and national levels. 

Zuma was at pains on Saturday, trying to convince youth league delegates attending the national conference to do away with factions within the party. “We need to be clear about wrong tendencies. We need to be clear about negative tendencies. We can’t ourselves undermine our own organisation. You must work hard to eliminate factionalism. That animal must be killed … it is dangerous. You join the ANC as members of the party, not as members of another member,” Zuma said. 

Former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe has repeatedly warned ANC members against the tendency of slates. “The emergence of slates within our organisational culture and the processes, represent the worst form of corruption of spirit, character and vision of the organisation. Stealing away the voice of members through slates, buying of votes and treating ordinary members as voting fodder, serves no other purpose, than to corrupt the organisation,” said Motlanthe in one of his speeches delivered to ANC members. 

The newly elected leaders of the youth league are linked to senior ANC leaders – North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza. The trio are referred to as the Premier League and are leading an influential group that is pushing for a woman candidate to replace Zuma as president during the ANC national conference in 2017. 

Until recently, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was seen as Zuma’s automatic successor because of the long held ANC tradition that a deputy president takes over when the term of the president comes to an end. Newly elected ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, who enjoys the Premier League’s support, has already declared her support for a female candidate to lead the ANC. The new ANCYL, under Collen Maine’s leadership, is also expected to throw its support behind a female candidate for the position of ANC president.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa was not available for comment.