Chairperson of the session,
Leadership of the ANC in the Region,
Veterans of our Movement,
ANCYL Regional Executive Committee,
Leadership of the Progressive Youth Alliance,
Members of the ANC Youth League and Women’s League.
Allow me to bring you revolutionary greetings on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Province of the Eastern Cape. Let me also take this opportunity to thank you for inviting us to be part of this important Robert Resha Volunteer launch.
This is significant and historical because Cde Resha would be 100 years old this year if he were still alive. This launch is taking place at a right time because the ward we are in will be amongst 20 wards that will have bi-elections in few weeks time.
Programme director, on the 08th October 2020 we learnt of the sad passing of one of our veterans, Mama Mamathe Boyana. Mama Boyana dedicated her entire life to the liberation struggle of South Africa and worked closely with Tata Steve Tshwete and Chris Hani. She was an activist in her own right and espoused the values of selflessness and sacrifice that we so dearly need today. On behalf of the ANC, we again express our heartfelt condolences to the family and other families that have lost their loved ones during this difficult period of Covid-19.
From the onset I must state that it is pleasing to see the ANCYL in the Province holding programmes and activities of this nature, something we had not seen quite often even before the advent of Covid-19. We of course want to see more activism from the ANCYL beyond the convening of intra-organisational programmes.
However, it is true that programmes of this nature do serve as an opportunity to have frank deliberations about the state of the Youth League and what needs to be done to renew it into an organisation and tool for transformation in the hands of young people.
For example, the 54th National Conference of the ANC resolved that:
“the Youth League need to diligently and progressively implement its twin tasks. Firstly, it must organise, mobilise and educate young people behind the vision of the ANC, and continue to be a political school for new generations. Secondly, it must champion the interest of young people in the ANC and in society, ensure that youth education themselves ideologically and academically, to provide innovation, energy and creativity to the project of radical social-economic transformation.”
So, this forum must deliberate on whether or not the ANCYL is effectively fulfilling the task of mobilising young people behind the vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
This forum must engage critically on the question of whether the Youth League in its current form can be regarded as a political school for new generations, or it is an organisation of current generations for the fulfilment of their own personal desires that have nothing to do with youth interests in particular and interest of the people in general.
As Lenin explained:
“only by radically remoulding the teaching, organisation and training of the youth shall we be able to ensure that the efforts of the younger generation will result in the creation of a society that will be unlike the old society…”
We therefore need to examine the state of the ANCYL in this context, before we move on to other questions of leadership, youth representation in structures of the ANC, areas of deployment and so on.
Without the fulfilment of its twin-tasks as outlined above, the Youth League will be but a shell of its former self, it will bask in former glory and will be written off as irrelevant not only by young people but by society as well.
It is for this reason that the ANC in the province appreciates the efforts you have made in organising this gathering. Let us use it productively and ensure that it is a step towards the rebuilding of the League, which some of us pride ourselves for having gone through its ranks.
You are the generation that must not deny future generations this pride and privilege we have of having gone through what is commonly known as a preparatory school of the ANC.
Fight against Coid-19
Comrades, you have convened this gathering at a time where are still engaged in the global fight against the Novel Coronavirus disease (Covid-19). We believe it is important to remind each other of this on-going fight as it appears that some of us have let our guards down and believe that the fight against Covid-19 has ended or has been won.
Whilst we have made meaningful progress in our efforts to save lives and protect livelihoods, the fight against Covid-19 and its impact on the socio-economic conditions on our people is still on and must be fought until it is won.
This fight requires global cooperation; it requires that we take collective and individual responsibility. Even though we have lifted many restrictions in Alert Level 1, we are still required to practise the preventative measures that have helped us to prevent the spread of the virus. We are still required to regularly wash our hands with soap and water, sanitise, wear our masks in public spaces and gatherings, maintain physical distance at all material times and limit movement for essential purposes.
Yesterday, the Department of Health announced 123 Covid-19 related deaths and 1 877 new cases. Although Chris Hani District has maintained a recovery rate that is above 90%, it still is one of the Regions that have a high number of active cases, specifically Inxuba Yethemba and Instika Yethu subregions.
This means that we need to double our efforts, and as the ANCYL you have a huge role to play in this regard. It is young people that have increased mobility rates during Alert Level 1 and are prone to socialise in places that are high risk for the spread of the virus. You therefore need to join us in spreading the message of increased vigilance as there is still no cure or a known vaccine for the virus.
Your ability to mobilise young people behind the fight against Covid-19 will be a measure of your influence in the terrain, and whether you will be able to lead future struggles.
Post Covid-19 Economic recovery
Comrades, our country’s economy has been heavily affected by the advent of Covid-19. It was reported that our economy experienced three consecutive performance declines since 2019, with the second quarter being the hardest hit. It was further reported that more than 2 million jobs were lost during the second quarter of this year, the youth being amongst those groups that were deeply affected. We therefore we welcome this bold economic recovery plan President has presented to the country this afternoon. It calls for patriotism and solidarity and for everyone to work together in order to reconstruct our economy.
It is true that our economy was already ailing with more than 10 million people without jobs before Covid-19. Majority of those that were employed were either in precarious work, and those in stable jobs were constantly living in fear of retrenchments and business closures. Our debt to GDP ratio was unsustainable and the economy was not growing at the desired rates. We had high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality, with all these being significantly racialised and spread unevenly across gender lines.
Such is the crisis before the crisis of Covid-19, and as the ANCYL you should be amongst those that are saying we should not return to the crisis before the crisis of the pandemic.
As the Alliance in the province we have agreed that we need a new and inclusive growth path. We agreed that our country requires an aggressive State-led Economic Reconstruction and Recovery with Development trajectory that is anchored on amongst other things, financial mobilisation and investment rather than austerity, recapitalising Development Finance Institutions, progressive taxation models and increasing public sector investment by into productive sectors of the economy by amongst other measures, utilising reserves and prescribed assets.
We agreed that we need to break the oligopoly structure of our economy by strengthening the Competition Act and related legislation and using public spending to deliberately grow the cooperative sector and small to medium industries. We need to reindustrialise our economy as President has indicated this afternoon.
These are some of the options that the ANCYL must deliberate on and provide solutions as instructed by our 54th National Conference .
A debate on sustainable economic recovery and development that is without the voice of the ANCYL is quite worrying and troubling especially when one considers the hegemony the Youth League used to have on economic and social debates in South Africa.
We need a strong Youth League that will hold us accountable for the various announcements we make such as Stimulus Packages to reignite the economy and whether or not we are living up to those pronouncements.
We need a Youth League that will understand the economy of the Chris Hani Region and that will provide innovative solutions on how to revive it. Sitting here, you should be knowing the performance of all sectors in the region during the second quarter and be able to provide a way-forward on how to improve the performance of those sectors that didn’t perform well.
What we need, is an ANCYL that is preoccupied with Youth Development and the development of our country rather than one that is inward looking and primarily concerned about its own affairs and factional battles within the ANC.
Linked to economic recovery and development is the question of massive investment into skills that are in line with the development of our country and needs of our society. I was particularly pleased to see SASCO leading a student national action calling for TVETS to be made as institutions of choice.
Our industrial development largely depends on skills and capabilities that are produced by TVETS which therefore makes it logical and necessary for government to increase its investment in the sector.
The SASCO we saw yesterday is the Youth League we expect, the Progressive Youth Alliance we want to see that leads popular struggles and sees them to their logical conclusion.
Building a strong, vibrant and active, and campaigning ANCYL
Comrades, for the Youth League to reclaim its hegemony it needs to be rebuilt to be a strong, vibrant, active and campaigning organisation of young people. But for that to happen, the organisation must exist.
In other words, it must be an organisation that is made up of real members and not membership forms that are deposited in bulk at the bank for purposes of Congress and BGMs. It can’t be that a branch with 100 members in terms of the audit outcomes struggles to even produce 10 volunteers for an ANC election campaign in the ward. Young people must be convinced to join the ANCYL, they must know that they are members of the ANCYL and not be members of other members.
Members can’t be recruited from voter’s roll; this is an act of fraud and can be punishable by law. It needs to stop, not only because it is illegal but also that it is self-defeating and is fundamentally in contravention of the values and principles of the ANCYL and the ANC.
The ANCYL will be strong only when its members are strong, only when they are thoroughly inducted to understand the ANCYL and the ANC, the history of these formations and the history of our struggle. The Youth League will be strong when its members comprehend the aims and objectives of the ANC and the national democratic revolution.
A campaigning and active ANCYL is one which has branches that are rooted in their communities and lead struggles faced by young people. It is a Youth League that mobilises for the interest of the motive forces of the NDR, placing the youth interests and those of the vulnerable at the centre of their agenda.
We need an ANCYL that actively engages in the battle of ideas and advances intellectual discussions and innovative ideas within the structures of the ANC; an ANCYL that doesn’t replace intellectualism with phrase-mongering and soundbite informed analysis.
Our country and ANC need an ANCYL that is popular within the masses and not one that is populist or one that engages in demagogic conduct.
Young people need a Youth League that understands the character and meaning of our revolution as a fundamental restructuring and transformation of society, rather than a bloodshed event or exchange of gun warfare. The Youth of this country deserves an ANCYL that understands the distinction between strategy and tactics, not one that confuses tactics for strategy; a Youth League that will understand that the armed struggle was pursued as a result of the prevailing material conditions of the time and as a response to the illegal and unjust apartheid regime that only understood violence as a language.
The brand and logo of the ANCYL can’t be associated with thoughtless calls for youth military camps in defence of the revolution. The ANCYL should be condemning violence and those that are instigating it rather than promoting it.
Instead of mobilising young people to carry guns, the Youth League should be encouraging the youth to carry books, to read and write and to make education fashionable.
Young people need an ANCYL that will promote youth entrepreneurship, building the cooperative sectors and innovation as opposed to tender-preneurship. The Youth League must cleanse itself from crass materialism and ensure that young people join it to advance youth interests and to further the vision of the ANC. It must insulate and cleanse itself from those who join and lead the ANCYL for self-enrichment and to obtain ill-gotten and overnight wealth.
Students need an ANCYL that won’t see the weaknesses of SASCO as opportunities for itself, but rather work with SASCO and ensure that it maintains its hegemony in institutions of higher learning and training.
These are some of the immediate tasks that the membership of the ANCYL must carry out in the efforts of reviving the League. We understand that there are calls for the dissolution of the NYTT and that young people should preside over their affairs. However, the existence of the NYTT doesn’t prevent structures and members of the ANCYL from carrying out the work of reviving and building an active organisation from below. The work of renewing the ANCYL cannot wait for a National Congress or favourable outcomes to calls being made to the ANC NEC.
Any organisation is as strong as its members allow it to be, and it is weak in so far as its members allow it to be weak. Therefore, the task of building a strong, vibrant, active and campaigning ANCYL cannot be postponed, and this is because young people in the province are organising themselves outside congress formations. Unemployed graduates, interns, unemployed youth are organising themselves and taking on struggles faced by the youth while we have thousands of ANC members that are young and that can be leading youth struggles through the ANC Youth League.
Unity and Organisational renewal
Comrades, the ANC is currently engaged in the process of uniting and renewing the organisation as resolved by our 54th National Conference.
We are reviving the values and principles that define who we are and adapting our methods of struggle to the changing times, of course without eroding the character of the national liberation movement.
This is a difficult process and at times painful, a process where we must choose between our friends and principle; between our allies and necessary decisions that have to be taken in the interests of advancing our national democratic struggle.
Unfortunately, even though we resolved to unite and renew the organisation, we are still witnessing tendencies that seek to do the exact opposite. Comrades within our ranks are working tirelessly to sow divisions and cast doubt on the leadership elected at East London ICC and Nasrec.
We are seeing the resurgence of negative tendencies that we defeated of defiance and ill-discipline. Some members of the ANC are drifting away from the organisational centre and are carrying mandates of factions to which they belong. Democratic centralism is being undermined in order to advance decisions of factions.
Some are behaving as an organised splinter group within the organisation posturing as forces of radical economic transformation even though our 54th National Conference resolved on radical socio-economic transformation.
As this PEC, we will not unite with anarchy, with ill-discipline and wrong-doing. Ours is principled unity and not unity of convenience. Our task as this collective is to unite the organisation, not to unite factions.
I wish to repeat that this PEC does not belong to any faction or any group or individuals that have convinced themselves that they have delivered this collective. We will not allow any form of past, present or future political blackmail to deter us from carrying out our work.
We will act on all those that are determined to undermine our decisions and resolutions. We will act on those that are transgressing our Conference resolution on all malfeasance be it corruption or anarchy. We must exercise our rights and duties as enshrined in our constitution to advance the NDR, defend and protect the ANC.
As this PEC, we have a responsibility to liberate members of the ANC from individuals and from factions, we will tirelessly carry out that work without reservation.
Comrades, you have a huge task ahead of you and one that requires utmost dedication, loyalty and sacrifice. We are calling on you to serve the people selflessly and without expectation of material gain or personal benefit. We expect you to do this for past and future generations.
Addressing the tenth anniversary of June 16, President OR Tambo affirmed that:
“the youth and students, the children, parents, teachers and other professionals; the workers in town and country, on the mines, in commerce, industry and the farms; the religious community – in fact, the entire oppressed population together with democratic whites are bound together by the blood that covered the streets of Soweto, the blood that has since soaked the soil of our motherland in even bigger quantities.”
You, the youth of today are bound by that blood of young selfless activists that refused to accept the tyranny of the gruesome apartheid regime. You owe it to them to carry on with the struggle to advance, deepen and defend our national democratic revolution. You owe it to yourselves and future generations to be loyal to the struggle for transformation and the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
Thank you very much comrades once again for extending this invitation to us, we wish that you will use this opportunity to honestly reflect on the issues we have highlighted and on the pressing questions confronting the ANCYL and the youth of South Africa.