ANC Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize’s visit to Grahamstown yesterday was focused on young graduates and students, as he launched Youth Month with a series of engagements ending with a lecture titled ‘The Evolution of OR Tambo’ in the City Hall.
Among those in attendance at a dialogue with the Unemployed Graduates group yesterday morning were ANC Regional Secretary Scara Njadayi along with subregional chair Mabhuti Matyumza, Mayor Nomhle Gaga, Speaker Yandiswa Vara and Councillor Rami Xonxa.
The gathering, at Makana Resort, which an expert believes is good news for Grahamstown, saw various local and district government entities pledging support for educational and job creation programmes.
In its statement ahead of the event, the party’s REC said while Youth Month had come from the struggle of the youth of 1976 against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, the challenges facing youth today were completely different.
“Mainly young people are grappling with unemployment, poverty and income inequality,” wrote Njadayi.
Welcoming the decision of the NEC to officially open the succession debate, Njadayi appealed to ANC branches to engage constructively on the subject.
Mkhize generally steered clear of the dysfunctional state of Makana Municipality, and lecturer in South African Politics at Rhodes University Wesley Seale’s analysis is that rather than looking at the longer term electoral outcome of the ANC in 2019, Mkhize would for now be more concerned about the ANC’s December 2017 elective conference, and building support in the sub-region.
However, Mkhize’s visit to Grahamstown is nevertheless extremely good news for the area, Seale believes.
“Mkhize has been trying to come to Grahamstown for a while now and that they, his foundation and local partners, were able to get a date in Youth Month is opportune for them to launch. Hopefully it is the start of a number of projects, for youth empowerment in Grahamstown, between his foundation and local partners,” Seale said.
“ Grahamstown could do with attention from outsiders, especially those who have access to the levers of power nationally and provincially.”
The Eastern Cape is a hotly contested province in the ANC, Seale explained.
“Firstly, because it is the second largest province, in terms of ANC strength, in the country after KwaZulu-Natal and second, because it is divided.”
Seale said Mkhize’s visit should be seen in the context of recent visits by ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe and Deputy State President Cyril Ramaphosa to Grahamstown, as well as President Jacob Zuma to Kings on Human Rights Day and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to East London recently.
“Given that attention is being given to regions such as Sarah Baartman and, relatively smaller sub-regions, such as Makana, it means that no leader is leaving any sub-region to chance,” Seale said.
“It’s regions (municipal districts like Amathole and Sarah Baartman) that matter for the ANC in national conferences and therefore attention will be paid by national leaders to these regions.
“Therefore the Eastern Cape seems to be a bit more contested than say provinces such as the North West, Free State and Mpumalanga, the traditional ‘premier league’ provinces.”
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