What is all this shouting about the Freedom Charter by the ANCYL, and in what way is it relevant in 2009?
The communist Freedom Charter that the ANCYL, and now Cosatu, believe to be set in stone was written in Kliptown by the Congress Alliance - which included the ANC, inter alia - in 1955 at the height of the Cold War.
Since then, worldwide tastes, not to mention those of politicians with interests and friends in business, have changed considerably.
Communism has become an anachronism to the ANC, albeit not for specifically humanitarian reasons.
When Mandela was finally freed in 1990 and the ANC came to power soon afterwards in May 1994, the new 'Constitution of SA' included in its text many of the demands called for in the Freedom Charter. Nearly all concerns regarding equality of race and language were directly addressed in the constitution, although the document included nothing to the effect of the nationalisation of industry or redistribution of land, both of which were specifically outlined in the original charter.
The ANC could of course not have succeeded in defeating the apartheid regime without the enormous power of the trade unions and the SA Communist Party. In his autobiography Long Walk to Freeom, Nelson Mandela famously remarked, "There will always be those who say that the Communists were using us. But who is to say that we were not using them?"
Gwede Mantashe is not answering his phone, but the problem of the Tripartite Alliance is not likely to disappear by itself. So who is the most potentially dangerous partner? Comrade Vavi does not really care about communism either, but is more concerned about loss of face. He needs to be appeased and seen to be taking part in decision making.
The ANCYL? Nobody takes them seriously, they are the jesters that are allowed to play in court occasionally.
It will be business as usual. Gwede, pick up the phone and make some reassuring noises to those who count.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe is under attack from the party’s youth league and from trade union federation Cosatu as the party comes under mounting pressure to nationalise the mines.
Mantashe publicly rejected a call by the ANC Youth League’s Julius Malema that mining be placed in the hands of a "state mining company".
Now the youth league and Cosatu have thrown down the gauntlet to Mantashe, claiming that nationalisation is official ANC policy.
The youth league yesterday said it would "not back down" from its call that the government consider nationalising the mines in response to the massive job losses suffered by the sector.
Cosatu national spokesman Patrick Craven said the federation backed the league’s call.
"This is totally in line with the resolution of our ninth national congress in 2006, which called for more equitable ownership, especially collective ownership through the state, worker control and co-operatives, including through nationalisation of mining and of other commanding heights of the economy, as provided in the Freedom Charter," Craven said.
ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu said the league will continue to "canvass" views within the party, despite Mantashe’s resistance.
"We don’t expect any of our partners to stand against us on this issue. It’s one of the resolutions found in the Freedom Charter," Shivambu said.
He said the youth league was encouraged by the support its call for nationalisation had received from Cosatu and other ANC alliance partners.
Craven said the ANC’s conference in Polokwane in 2007 affirmed the Freedom Charter as a strategic document guiding the ruling party. "The government does therefore have a conference mandate for this policy."
Last week, Mantashe shot down the league, saying there was "no such plan" to nationalise the mines by the ANC. Shivambu said Mantashe has since clarified his objections.
But the truce is likely to be short lived because anti-Mantashe sentiment continues to grow in the youth league and other alliance organisations.
Youth league members who spoke to The Times said Mantashe was behaving like a "de facto" leader on matters that were outside his mandate.
"Now and again, he shoots his mouth and attacks us, even before he has understood where we are coming from.
"It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last that he attacks us publicly, and the time for us to retaliate has arrived," said a youth league member in Gauteng.
The ANC secretary-general has also come under fire from some members of Cosatu, who accused him of "selective leadership".
Members say he lambasted the federation for saying that President Jacob Zuma will serve two terms, but he said nothing when Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale raised the same issue.
Last month, Mantashe came under attack from the ANC’s alliance organisations in North West. They called for his removal, saying he was failing to lead the organisation.
Efforts to reach Mantashe were unsuccessful. His cell phone was switched off.