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20th National Congress: Closing address by President Malusi Gigaba

20 March 1998

In his message to the youth of South Africa, comrade Moses Kotane said:

"At this hour of destiny, your country and your people need you. The future of South Africa is in your hands and it will be what you make of it"

Comrade Chairperson, this, the 20th National Congress, is concluding. As it does so, it is satisfied that it has fulfilled the monumental duty fir which it had been assembled here. Without doubt, we will be within out right to proclaim for all to know that this, indeed, was a South African National Youth Congress, a true parliament of the youth of our country.

Assembled here just after the historic 50th National Conference of the ANC, just a year before the 1999 general elections and two years before the ushering in of a new century, let alone the new millennium, this Congress was, indeed, a great omen of battles still to be fought and soon to be won, of the youth of our country taking their destiny firmly in their hands and of history being made.

It was, by all standards, an assembly that gave the order for us to take our country through the difficult, but exciting, fires towards the condition of peace, democracy and development.

Having assembled together the best cadres among the South African youth, having pulled together the best cream of the crop among these youth, and having congregated together the best brains found among our country`s youth, we are happy that this Congress was truly representative of the various strata and interests of the South African youth, and was hence the most appropriate occasion for us to map the way forward to the consolidation of the national democratic revolution.

Under the theme: "Youth Mobilisation for the consolidation of People`s Power", this Congress undertook its historic mission with a sense of duty, purpose, urgency and unprecedented seriousness.

Having clearly understood the ANC`s directive to the people of South Africa, to take all power, the Congress sought to develop a strategy to mobilise all youth for the fulfilment of this task. Accordingly, it engaged in serious debates about the various questions the totality of which would herald the realisation of this objective.

The Congress did not take for granted the reality of the difficult challenges of transformation. It re-affirmed our commitment to the cause championed by the ANC, which is the complete social and economic emancipation of black people and African in particular. Accordingly, it charged us to mobilise, educate and organise all these youth to, themselves, struggle even more and harder for the realisation of this objective, and to champion their interests.

In bringing together the various youth organisations allied to the ANCYL, this Congress re-affirmed the historic leadership role and responsibility of the ANCYL to the general youth movement. This is the task which the democratic revolution has placed upon the revolution, but because this revolution has itself placed this responsibility upon the ANCYL among the youth.

This Congress has appreciated the rich contributions made by our sister organisations in the setting of the social, economic and political agenda of the ANCYL.

At the same time, this Congress made a critical analysis of the character, historic mission and strategic political future of both the students and their organisations.

To that extent, has challenged these organisations to continue mobilising the students and place them in the centre of the broad array of forces fighting for a permanent social, economic and political transformation of this country. Students are historically a central part of the ongoing democratic revolution, they belong among those still striving for a better life and hence they cannot be alienated from this struggle.

Thus, the Congress challenged SASCO, YCS, SUCA, COSAS and the ANCYL itself to continuously mobilise, educate and organise students for this greater task.

This Congress also benefited from the wise counsel of our international compatriots. Their presence among us signified both the power of internationalism and the continued strong presence of our international friends in our unfolding democratic revolution. Thus, they strengthened and enriched us. In travelling thousands of miles just to be with us at this proud moment of our history, they confirmed that indeed there is something greater than all of us. Together, we are bound on a long and arduous journey, but one that will result in triumph, towards a new world order of peace, security, equality and justice for all humankind.

In bringing under one roof the various generations that make up the proud heritage of the ANCYL, we once again re-affirmed our sense of continuity and our ability to still attract newer generations of youth into organisation. In their continuous and wise contributions in the life of the ANCYL, these "ancestors" of the ANCYL. continue to ensure that this organisation connects with its proud history and prepares for its future.

This Congress has confirmed that we remain committed to this continuity.

These various obligations, placed before this, our generations, demand of us to pay particular attention to the continuous building of a strong, united and vibrant organisation. Often, we have been found wanting on this question.

Often, we have allowed ourselves to be driven by interests that are contrary to the urgency of unity. Particularly, when positions are concerned, we have often tended to shut our eyes and ears to the very questions we raise in theory and flush away in practice.

The end result of all this is that is that we destroy the organisation.

This organisation,built over decades by successive generations of youth cadres, dedicated to the freedom of their people right to the end, was built through blood and sweat, life and limb. We, today`s generations have no right to destroy it!

This NEC pledges that we shall work to unite this organisation. Our priority is the building of a strong, united and vibrant organisation. Our collective priority is the pursuit of transformation and the creation of a better life for all. This, beginning a monumental task that it is, shall pre-occupy our energies and minds and spare us nothing to engage in petty activities that can only distract us from our mandate and result in the destruction of this organisation.

All I have said will remain a pipe dream without the development and training of a new cadre of the ANCYL. This cadre must fully understand that he/she is a catalyst for strange, here to fulfil the aspirations of those striving for a better life, for an improvement in their quality of life.

This cadre must be capable of independent thinking, collective responsibility and must be resilient to manipulation. A cadre that loves and enjoys politics. A cadre that enjoys work. A cadre that refuses to label people`s ideas, but is rather tolerant to these ideas, and is always willing and able to engage them on their worth.

A cadre that, in the ANCYL, does not assume that those that do not think like her/him are alien and do not belong to this organisation. But a cadre that believes that all belong to this organisation and are entitled to their views.

Distinguished delegates, your`s was an extremely successful Congress. You came here to execute your obligations and fulfil you mission. Knowing that there is something greater than all of, you undertook your mandate it this Congress extremely seriously.

Yet, there are those among us, a very tiny minority, that lost their discipline and failed to concentrate to the proceedings of the Congress. They stayed outside and others were roaming between this Centre and the airport. But, the overwhelming majority of you stayed put and attached to their posts and contributed fruitfully to make this Congress a drastic success, a blow to the prophets of doom that only could foresee major political and policy rifts, that would result in tensions and conflicts.

In concluding this historic Congress, we note the departure of some comrades who have been with this youth movement for decades of long and difficult struggle. Individually and collectively, they have contributed immensely to growth and development of both our struggle and youth organisation. Thus, they have enriched us with vision and wisdom.

Today, as we bid farewell to them, fully grateful of the invaluable moments we spent together we wish to thank and wish them in their future endeavours. We will forever he grateful to them, and we immediately enlist their names among those of other generations that have belonged to this organisation. We pledge to carry forward their baton of struggle, and to build this organisation even more.

Poised to usher in a new millennium, blessed by history with onerous mission, fully believing in the brighter future of all our people, especially those still living in poverty, and visited by illiteracy and disease, you have made the ANC proud. You have placed the ANCYL at the centre of this ongoing struggle for better life. You have not failed the youth, the movement and history itself. The future generations will always be proud of you and will remember you as a council of war they gave the order for them to successfully accomplish the democratic revolution.

Indeed, at this hour of destiny, we pledge to respond to the call of our country and our people. Indeed, the future of our country is in our hands, and we will make it what we want it to be.

As you turn your backs from here, as you depart from these graced and modest soils, as you focus your eyes and take steps towards home, have a safe journey. Remember that the call of this Congress was: go to where the youth is, Live among them and tell them about the coming of a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist future. Mobilise, educate and organise them for the consolidation of people`s power !

Forward to Youth Mobilisation for the consolidation of People`s Power!
Long Live the Legacy and memory of the 20th National Congress!
I love you all!
Thank you!