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20th National Congress: Political Report
20 March 1998
This, the 20th National Congress of the ANCYL has assembled. In so doing, we welcome all delegates to this historic congress of the African National Congress Youth League. We have come here to evaluate the progress we are making to better the lives of our people, more especially the youth. It is 54 years since the Youth League was established in 1944. One of our founders Nelson Mandela, bid the ANC farewell at the last ANC Conference. In a sense, this Congress is a celebration of his illustrious leadership and many of his other colleagues.
When we met in Mafikeng last year, we outlined the tasks for the entire national liberation alliance. This Congress, therefore, has an obligation of evolving and enriching the Mafikeng program, more especially in its relation to the youth.
We are assembled under the clarion call: "Youth Mobilization for the Consolidation of People’s Power" we are called upon to focus on the youth, and consequently to pronounce ourselves on the tasks, role and functions that will make our young people real catalysts of change.
We are called upon to mobilize the youth. This means a painstaking sacrifice to swell the ranks of the organization, to develop a new cadre that will carry the ANCYL and the ANC into the new millennium.
We seek to enhance and expand the vision and objective of the ANC, without fear of taking bold decisions about what we think should be the future of this country and our movement.
The ANCYL is a political home and rallying organ of all youth, where all South African youth who believe in the ideal of a united non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa belong. Consequently, it must advance a strategy and programs to expand and deepen its mass base to embrace the aspirations of the various youth strata.
We are called upon to consolidate the democratic advance. This is so because our revolution has not yet reached the stage of irreversibility.
Our programs must be geared towards entrenching the hold of the people on people’s power.
All the above will remain a pipe dream without a united and strong organization. Hence, during the Congress we will strive to unite the ANCYL and the ANC. We must show that the ANCYL is serious about organization and its unity.
We have adopted a democratic constitution which lays a firm foundation for a vibrant democracy. In addition to the national and provincial parliaments, it creates bodies and institutions which guarantee compliance with the basic law of the land. The Constitutional Court, the Human Rights Commission, the Gender and Youth Commissions and many others, are the embodiment of the new and growing South African democracy.
The problems they encounter notwithstanding, our local authorities are a living testimony to our call: The People shall Govern.
The new dispensation has also established a culture of popular participation in policy-making in the country. The drafting of legislation has become transparent and thousands of people are participating in it. Yet, the youth of the country is not playing as much role as expected of it, mainly due to lack of resources and capacity. To address this, the ANCYL must mobilize youth to participate in policy formulation, and we must champion the building of capacity for them.
There are those in society that have exploited the democratic dispensation to launch a sustained offensive against democratization. To that extent, they have spearheaded reactionary campaigns that seek to undermine and consequently reverse transformation.
To some extent, some among the enemy forces have declared tacit acceptance for the democratic change, willing in action to cooperate with the democratic dispensation, utilizing constitutional and legal means to oppose change. Yet, there are those that, in their opposition to change, have sought to use even illegal and unconstitutional means to realize their objectives.
There does exist a danger that we may brand anyone that opposes us as a counter-revolutionary. But, as stated above, counter-revolution consists in using illegal and unconstitutional means like sabotage of government, covert military operations and related matters to achieve the objective of defeating this revolution.
They will exploit even a genuine grievance among the people to turn it into an instrument of counter-revolution. Among others, they are cooperating with international right-wing organizations and even international and domestic crime syndicates to realize their objectives. They continue also to occupy key and strategic centers of power.
The democratic movement must, therefore, not lull itself into a false sense of security and behave as if our revolution has reached irreversibility. It must transform and take firm control of the state machinery, and use the centers it has a foothold in to expand the frontiers of transformation.
However, our ultimate success in defeating the counter-revolution depends on the extent to which our people are satisfied with transformation and to which their lives are getting better. They are the first line of defense for the democratic revolution.
Democracy in South Africa will only be threatened if 70% South Africans remain illiterate, have no access to quality education and training, communication and information. For as long as the ANC remains committed to these noble goals, so long shall democracy be firmly entrenched in South Africa.
Also entrenching the democratization project is the continued existence of a vibrant and organized civil society. The NGOs, CBOs and grassroots-based political formations continue to serve and service the grassroots interests of our civil society, and ensure that there is popular participation by our masses in governance and transformation.
The urgency to speak with one voice on major national questions has been brought to the fore by the intention by the President of the ANC, comrade Thabo Mbeki to embark on programs with the leadership of the Inkatha Freedom Party, especially Dr. M.G. Buthelezi.
We maintain that regardless of our sometimes divergent political, social and economic policies, we share an objective interest in the creation of a better life for the urban and rural poor. It is this reality that makes cooperation between us not only possible, but urgent.
The ANC Youth League embraces these initiatives without equivocation and is part of them.
The ANCYL and IFPYB are working to improve relations between them. We seek to make a youthful intervention in the promotion of this noble goal. Consequently, we cooperate in programs that enhance the broader initiative, that mobilize total youth support for that initiative and place youth at the center of the peace process.
The people of South Africa will, in less than 14 months, be called upon to once more elect the national and provincial governments of their choice.
It is true that these elections will, for us, represent an important part of our continuing struggle for genuine social and economic emancipation. It is also correct that, they will present us with a harder contest than the one we had to engage in 1994.
They will be about consolidating the transfer of power to the people, and building on the foundations for a better life.
This Congress must pronounce victory in advance. We pledge to still ensure a landslide victory for the democratic forces once again. We pledge to deliver the youth vote for the ANC.
An intensive mobilization and education of youth for these elections must start urgently. Youth must be made to know that by voting the ANC they will be securing their future, participating in determining their destiny, and re-confirming their faith and confidence in the vision of transformation led by the ANC.
We must immediately mobilize the democratic youth movement to establish a Youth Election Platform. Particularly, a critical challenge still awaits us to ensure that youth that will turn 18 next year are reached to register as voters and mobilized to vote for the ANC.
Yet, this Congress must still advance the demand for the voting age to be lowered to 16. We must develop a campaign for this and engage youth towards this objective. This we should do noting that the ANC’s Mafikeng Conference already resolved to explore the possibility of this. Our demand is that these youth should vote in 1999.
The Western Cape is a special project of the ANC Youth League in the coming election. The National Party is intent to make that part of our country the cradle of racism and white domination. They use it as a launch pad for their racist and divisive venom.
We must build a strong ANC and ANCYL in the province. Contact with the masses, more especially the colored communities, must improve. A similar challenge awaits us in KwaZulu-Natal.
We are on the way to achieve a South Africa whose people are at peace with themselves. The result of this protracted effort will be a nation born of the struggles and tribulations of our different people.
The racists and the privileged, seeking to undermine our efforts, have daily sought to impose their definition on reconciliation and nation-building, always striving to subtract from this goal the objective of social transformation.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has succeeded in laying bare the most horrendous crimes of the apartheid regime. The erstwhile ruling elite, characterized by representatives of the old order in the National Party and the Democratic Party continue to undermine the work of the T.R.C. by casting doubt on the integrity of its officials as well as portray it as a campaign to victimize a section of the South African population. The African National Congress Youth League must, together with other youth organizations across the racial divide, champion the cause of nation building and build on the foundation that the TRC has laid.
An urgent appeal goes to the South African business community to embrace the challenge to prepare our youth for the next millennium. In the coming years the ANC Youth League must engage business in programs to educate and train more especially black youth. Our national aspirations will not be satisfied as long as the managerial and professional sectors are still dominated by members of one racial group.
Addressing the social disparities created by apartheid must therefore be targeted, primarily, at youth. However, the task of national reconciliation and of building a new nation demands a concerted effort of all youth. Obviously, it is from the generations of youth that a future non-racial society will arise. Hence, more than anyone else, it is these generations that must shoulder the obligation of forging national unity.
We particularly appeal to the white youth to show a genuine patriotism and participate in the resolution of the social disparities arising out of apartheid. They have nothing to fear from democracy, non-racialism and social transformation. They have a stake in the building of this new South Africa and their destiny is one with that of the rest of South Africans. In short, our future belongs together.
One of the most immediate and visible outcomes of national liberation would be the social emancipation of black people and Africans in particular.
Major advances have been made in education and training. During the past two years, the democratic government has concentrated on developing new legislation that would precipitate the education and training transformation. In this, we are driven by a burning desire to modernize our entire system of human resource development.
The South African Schools Act was passed in 1996, spelling an end to bantu education and heralding a new era of people’s education. Education was made compulsory for a period of ten years; and schools were mandated to get democratic. No child could be turned away from public schools on the sheer basis of his/her parents’ failure to pay school fees, and no child would be compelled to study in a language forced upon him/her.
The ANC remains committed to a free ten year education.
The establishment of a task team on further education and training is a milestone in the education struggles of our people. Youth that could not finish their studies as a result of apartheid will be given a second chance to an education and training.
The establishment of community colleges is a further contribution to the continuous development and training of young people. These colleges must be expanded in order to enable them to deal adequately with the problems confronting the many students that are either out of school or have obtained poor matric results.
As much as the poor results of the past two years are a legacy of apartheid education, the students, the teachers and parents are equally to blame for this sad state of affairs. If a school at a Bloemfontein squatter camp or a village in Venda can get a 100 percent pass, there is no reason the schools in Mdantsane or Soweto cannot achieve the same results.
The point to be made here is that learning is an annual program which does not start with examination preparations. Furthermore, to pass matric one must be thoroughly prepared at lower grades.
The adoption of the new higher education law has promised to rationalize this sector of education and to provide a framework for its transformation. However, with each academic year starting, we witness a recurrence of similar problems. The students debt remains unresolved, transformation is slow, historically black institutions lack resources and centers of higher learning are fewer than their demand, and there is incoherence about ways to resolve the crisis.
A point must, however, be made to higher education students. Free higher education is neither possible nor sustainable at this stage. This moment requires that they, as well, shoulder the responsibility of both raising some of their funds and of paying back their loans, especially when they work, to sustain the fund.
We witnessed in the past two years some emotional students battles over higher education transformation. Poor leadership on the side of administrators in particular has often caused such frustrations among students as have led to some violent and vandalistic forms of actions. These only blurred the genuine demands of students, diverted public attention from these demands to vandalism, and turned public sympathy away from students.
All tertiary students must be mobilized for a community service. The critical issue that the students of this country must elaborate is the contribution they, themselves, are going to make in the reconstruction and development process.
The intelligentsia of this country, especially the progressive echelons, remain with a daunting challenge to define and understand their place and role during the current phase of the democratic revolution. Over the last two years, these echelons, which include students, have seemed alienated from the continuing democratic struggle, often driven by selfish parasitic interests, either focused on appropriating maximum resources and advantage for themselves or resisting to participate in the process of setting the country’s agenda for change.
This period has also witnessed an aggressive delivery of primary health care, particularly to the poor. In line with this, we spearheaded a campaign to make medicinal drugs accessible to all, especially the poor.
The established interests, particularly the pharmaceutical companies, have fiercely opposed this transformation of the country’s health system, underlining the fact that these interests are not about to compromise to the provision of health to the poor, even if this was in the national interest.
The legislation of the termination of pregnancy law made it possible for women, particularly the poor young black women, to have complete control and powers over their own lives. It made it possible for them to decide whether to have children or not.
This Congress must develop a program to increase public awareness about HIV/AIDS. The youth are the most affected and threatened by this disease. The democratic government has taken very bold and active measures to combat the disease. This has, however, not been complemented by society with equal boldness and vigor.
We support the efforts of the government and all South African researchers to find a cure for H.I.V and AIDS. We regret that opponents of change and those who believe that nothing of scientific value will ever emerge from Africa have bedeviled investigations about the efficacy of Virodene,. Because young people are affected the most, we urge our health authorities to assist all research initiatives.
Gradually, there have been increasing efforts to improve the situation of children in South Africa. The new government has shown an increased commitment to the social welfare, safety and security and proper development of children.
In pursuit of this, the ANCYL won a major battle for the recognition of the fact that juveniles in prison need special attention aimed at rehabilitation and development. This would show them that there are opportunities for a better life outside crime, and it would also enable them to rejoin society as rehabilitated persons. There are many rehabilitation centers already established in the past two years more are in the pipeline.
There was also, over this period, an increase in the sexual and psychological abuse and murder of children. On many occasions, the criminal justice system failed the children. The perpetrators of these crimes have not been appropriately punished, at times they have been released on bail to go back and harass the children they have abused, their families and those who seek to testify against them. In some instances, children have been killed by these criminals whilst out on bail.
There is no harm in admitting immediately that a frightening number of our own members are involved in crime. We possess the machinery to gather the intelligence to assist the police in crime investigations. The next NEC must consider the establishment of a safety and security department that will liaise with the police and other safety and security organs at all levels.
It is critical that the ANCYL mobilize all youth to fiercely fight crime. We must use the Community Policing Forums, join the police reservists, and cooperate with the agents of law enforcement in apprehending criminals and putting an end to crime. Everyone must feel part of the anti-crime drive and criminals must find no space in our society.
Furthermore, we must mobilize all youth for a moral renewal. This renewal must become one of our society’s arsenals against crime. A new society must emerge with a corresponding morality that commits all to hard work, respect for the rights of others, and an attitude against winning cheap respect and status in society based on crime and criminality. More critical, though, is the belief that the primary conditions for this renewal will be the reconstruction and development of South Africa.
It can be reported with enthusiasm that the youth development agenda is gradually becoming a part of the main agenda of reconstruction and development.
1996 saw the adoption of the National Youth Commission Act, establishing the National Youth Commission. This process was replicated at provincial levels, thus bringing to fruition our vision for the creation of government structures for youth development. The youth of our country was given hope that their situation was eventually going to improve.
In KZN, cooperation between the ANCYL and IFPYB has made it possible to advance towards this vision.
For some reason, there has persistently existed a misconception regarding the role of the NYC, as some perceive it as an organ to deliver programs, and consequently hail it a failure for not doing this thus far. However, it must be made very clear that the NYC was meant to be an advocacy and leveraging organ.
Nonetheless, over the last two years, the NYC has established its infrastructure. With speed, and amidst right-wing attacks, it formulated a comprehensive and first ever National Youth Policy, after an intensive process of public consultation with the youth. We have a daunting challenge to ensure that the National Youth Policy becomes legislation this year, and that all government departments integrate it in their work.
The establishment of a National Youth Service Program is an urgent question. A significant portion of the youth of South Africa, especially the most underprivileged, have not seen much improvement in their lives since 1994. Whereas we can confidently claim that there are very clear programs employed by government to improve this situation of youth, including the establishment of a youth fund, there is still need for a focused youth service program.
The NYSP will ensure that youth are employed and skilled at the same time. It will bridge the gap between informal and formal training, and will have to include the element of youth entrepreneurship.
Because of these primary tasks, and because the NYC is a product of the sweat of our youth, we must today express our complete confidence in and support for it, and commitment to its future.
The particular challenge of youth unemployment requires an urgent response. We must pronounce a job creation strategy for youth targeting economic sectors with a potential for sustainable growth in the future. These must provide sustainable jobs and training for young people.
In line with the ANCYL’s National Jobs Summit recommendations, this Congress must take clear and bold resolutions to intervene in this situation. Our challenge is to ensure that the President’s Jobs Summit develops strategies to respond to the youth problem.
However, we seek at the same time to develop young entrepreneurs, focusing on the small and medium sectors. The creation of young black entrepreneurs must be promoted through, among others, a government led National Youth Entrepreneurship Conference, involving all necessary stakeholders.
The new dispensation has opened up opportunities that never existed in the past for the youth to explore all sports codes and seek to develop their talents in the arts and culture. Disappointingly only football and boxing can rightly claim to represent the national embodiment of our people in the composition of its teams. All the other sports still carry the baggage of the past. Henceforth the ANC Youth League must play a larger role in advancing the sporting and cultural interests of our youth.
The formation of the South African Youth Council must be seen as an important step towards forming a vehicle to enhance youth development, as well as an opportunity for the democratic forces to engage all youth organizations in the Council in support of transformation.
The Freedom Charter committed us to the transformation of South Africa’s economy as an essential element of the emancipation and empowerment of black people, and the eventual transfer of all power to the people.
In pursuit of economic transformation and the Reconstruction and Development Program we adopted the growth employment and redistribution program. This strategy is aimed at reducing government deficit, whilst promoting economic growth and redistribution; increasing government investments in employment creation, infrastructure and human resource development, and improving social expenditure.
Because there is no policy that is cast in stone, the ANCYL and other youth organizations must be part of the continuing debates about economic policy. Our focus must be the adoption of policies that will impact positively on the welfare of young people. Similarly we must prepare young South Africans, more especially black ones, to be active and meaningful participants in the economy of the country.
Gradually, our international competitiveness is increasing, the inflation rate is at its all time low, foreign investments are rising, even though they are not creating jobs. The economy is getting modernized to enable it to confront the future challenges of globalization, competitiveness and creation of jobs.
One of the most strategic questions to confront us during this period has been that of constructing a democratic state. This is so because the construction of a democratic society could not be successfully completed using the rotten apartheid state and all its machinery. This task requires a state completely constructed in the image of the revolution we are involved in and the South Africa of our dreams.
Whilst the debate has been launched and still continues within the democratic movement about the theoretical framework of this state, a few observations must, however, be made.
First. This state must accelerate the formation of a non-racial, non-sexist, united and democratic South Africa. It must accelerate the transfer of all power to the people.
Second. This is a state of all South Africans, particularly the poor. It is a state of empowering black people and creating a better life for all. Its machinery, policies and programs must reflect this bias, without subtracting from this the task of fulfilling the aspirations of all South Africans.
Third. The democratic state must manage the social contradictions between capital and labor. As the NDR evolves, these contradictions will be articulated even more sharper and acutely. This state must have a leaning towards the poor, and yet create conditions for the private sector to regard the amicable resolution of these problems as its responsibility as well, and to feel comfortable in so doing.
The relationship it establishes with the private sector is critical in this period of transformation and globalization. It must be based on the objective to ensure that capital ownership and control is extended, and it contributes in the building of a democratic society. Its approach to capital accumulation must be influenced by both a comprehensive and modern understanding of national and global economic trends, and by the vision to ensure that the private sector sees itself as an important player in the construction of a democratic society.
Fourth. The democratic state must, as well, become a revolutionary and mobilization state; a state that, in its policies and programs, mobilizes popular participation in transformation. It must, itself, become a popular state owned by the popular masses of this country.
In the past two years, there has been considerable development towards consolidating the class of black wealth creators. Many black people have entered the business arena and are exploiting the new opportunities to gain a foothold in business. Yet, in a lot of ways, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to open even more opportunities for black people and begin to seriously transfer economic power.
The challenge on the emerging black propertied groups to create job and contribute to the development of our country is no less than that facing established business.
As stated earlier, the youth of our country must organize themselves to exploit business opportunities and to become entrepreneurs. This will require that a youth financial institution be established either independently or through some existing banks to finance youth ventures.
The most urgent question facing the South African economy is that of jobs. The level of unemployment in South Africa has reached crisis proportions. However, about 42% of the unemployed are young people who missed out on education and training, are unskilled and hence unemployed and unemployable.
As stated earlier in this report, the ANCYL must spearhead a campaign to formulate a youth employment strategy, and use the government’s National Jobs Summit to score gains for the youth.
What is very obvious, though, is that for our economy to be modernized and to grow even further, it requires a high skills base. Therefore, our human resources development strategy is a critical center-piece of our economic transformation strategy.
The gender question still persists in our ongoing democratic revolution. Its resolution is a central part of the resolution of the national question in South Africa.
In understanding its historic mission with regards this matter, the democratic government has spearheaded a concerted program to create gender equality in the country. To that extent, it has established both institutions and legal framework to expedite this process and instill in society this gender perspective.
Yet, despite all these monumental achievements, our country has still a long way to go. Most importantly, the national psyche needs to be transformed with regards the gender question. Our society is still very patriarchal and hence the need for a massive education, starting at school levels through the curriculum and reaching out to the work place. Women need to be integrated into the social, political and economic mainstream of society.
The ANCYL must champion the social, political and economic interests of young women. This means that young women must find a central place in the policies and programs of this organization, and we must strive to ensure that they find this place in the social, economic and political spheres and institutions of the country.
In the ANCYL, young women must find a political home. Therefore, this organization must completely eradicate sexism in its ranks and must build a huge layer of cadres among young women, ready and capable to become leaders. An institutional mechanism must be created in the ANCYL to support young women who rise in the ranks.
Furthermore, we must strive to unite all young women in society for their empowerment so that they should take charge of their destiny.
Two years ago we passed the half-way mark of our democratic governance. As we did so, we made a frank assessment of our performance in government and pointed the way forward. With hindsight, we can conclude that over these last two years the ANC has governed this country with unquestioned success.
We stand today on the eve of a fresh general election in 1999 when we will be seeking a new mandate in our pursuit for a better life. Without doubt, we remain with a long journey to realize our objectives.
Increasingly, the popular masses have participated in the very act of governing themselves and determining their own destiny. Thus, they have given content and meaning to the vision of "The People Shall Govern".
In pursuing our objective of transformation, our government has continued to be confronted by a hostile media, reflecting the patterns of ownership, the values of advertisers and editorial bias. Clearly, we are dealing here with entrenched interests that have not forgiven the democratic movement for ending white minority rule, and that is threatened by majority rule and wish to defend minority privileges at all costs.
These interests have arrogated to themselves the task of opposing the democratic government, articulating minority interests and elevating them to the national idea. Every program that seeks to further transform this country thus receives the wrath of the media in the name of public interest.
They criticize us and expect us to rejoice. But, when we do the same, we pose a threat to the very press freedom we fought for, for which some of us paid with their dear lives.
What all this has highlighted is the urgent need for the democratic government to develop its own strategy to communicate with the masses about governance and delivery; and for the democratic movement, itself, to establish an effective and efficient communications instrument to articulate the ideas of the masses of the poor in the country.
The bottom line, is the right of the people to access information so that they can be active participants in shaping their future.
However, there have remained weaknesses in the role the democratic movement has played in policy formulation. This has arisen, primarily, from a tendency from us to disregard the centrality of the ANC in policy formulation.
As a result, many policies that have been promulgated did not go through the process of the democratic movement. What all this underlined was the fact that whilst the democratic movement must provide a broad policy framework for our public representatives to formulate detailed policies, it must, however, have its own policy capacity and must always be consulted on final policy formulation.
For its part, the ANCYL has been able to exploit the opportunities opened by this democratic dispensation to participate in the act of governance. Through this, we were able to participate in the formulation of policy, especially that which impacted on our constituency. However, we still need to strengthen our capacity to engage with policy.
In relation to governance, the ANCYL, in the coming future, must once more play a cooperative role, but be firm in our pursuance of the strategic objective of the transformation of our society. And this, we must apply creatively and maturely.
AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
International relations can today be characterized as dynamic and complex, shaped by an interplay of political, social and economic forces. But, in their essence, they are shaped by the dominant and powerful social forces.
Today’s world is characterized by the dominance of the capitalist mode of production in all its free market variations - over virtually the entire globe, and the globalization of institutions of politics and economics in a manner that compresses this big world into a small global village.
Globalization is at the heart of international matters today, at an economic, social and political levels. But it is more and more driven by the economy and advances in science and technology. The world economy today is characterized by the emergence of a global market which is being entrenched a permanent feature of human existence as a result of the ongoing technological revolution; and which is represented by the movement of capital, goods and services to all parts of the world, unrestrained by national boundaries or differences in political systems.
This system has created a situation in which the national sovereignty of some states is being lost to an evolving system of international governance, and in which multi-national institutions and the considerations of a global market dictate domestic economic policies of all states. And, more and more political interventions are becoming necessary to regulate the economic situation.
The social disparities between the rich and poor remain acute. The gap between the poor and richer countries is widening. The situation of the working people is worsening.
What is clear though is that globalization is not an invention of some neo-liberals, but is a result of a complex evolution of human society and the systems this society has put forward. It is an objective situation whose articulation today reflects the dominant ideology in the world. Accordingly, we cannot simply dismiss this reality and regard ourselves as an exception that can resist it.
However, there is arising throughout the world a common effort towards finding an international consensus about the most urgent problems facing humanity. Everywhere, there is a desire to resolve these problems in a manner that will create equity and social justice.
A challenge awaits the progressive forces throughout the world to confront this process and exploit the opportunities it has created in favor of the agenda of the working people. We must mobilize the entire world to engage with this process. We must unite and cooperate with other poor countries in the South, whilst we also continuously engage with the wealthy nations to jointly, with us, address the common problems facing humanity. South Africa must strengthen its institutional capacity and systems to enable herself to influence decisions emanating from the system of international governance.
The stature of our country, and the manner we resolved our conflict has created a situation where we were called upon and expected to comment on international conflicts and to intervene in the resolution of some major conflicts.
Our government is arguing for the democratization of the United Nations Security Council to also include the African, Asian and other continents. This Council cannot continue in the same old way that gives veto powers to some regions and states to the exclusion of others.
Our approach to international matters starts from the premise that South Africa is an African country. Consequently, we take note of the fact that this is an international epoch in which Africa enjoys the unique and rare opportunity to extricate herself from the vicious cycle of its scourges, and to strike forth in a continental renaissance.
Africa has emerged from four specific historical periods, that is,
- A period of slavery.
- A period of colonialism and imperialism.
- A period of neo-colonialism as a predator elite and regimes emerged, looting national resources and engaging in corruption, feeding on the plight of our people, willing to even take them through wars that only served these predators. This elite was established by the colonial powers as they left the continent in order to retain an influence and control of continental affairs, and
- A period of liberation which has been protracted and culminated in the national liberation of South Africa.
The above situation has brought about a situation of ethnic cleansing and wars; unstable political systems; an international debt burden and unfavorable terms of trade and a decline in the standard of living and the quality of life of the African people.
However, conditions exist for the rebirth of the continent. In striking forth in an African Renaissance, the objective is to create stable and democratic political systems which shall give meaning and content to the ideal "The People Shall Govern". This means that popular political centers for fundamental transformation must be created throughout the continent.
These political systems must be accompanied by the promotion of, and a deep respect for, human rights. Every African citizen must feel secure in the knowledge that his or her individual rights are protected and promoted.
The sustainable development of the African economy, its distribution among the peoples of Africa and an increase in economic cooperation and trade among the countries of Africa is an essential condition for the renaissance. Pressure must be exerted on the international financial institutions to develop even better ways for settling the continent’s debt burden.
The renaissance relies for its success on a massive human resources development strategy aimed, particularly, at youth. This will ensure that the continent develops the resources and skills requisite for its rebirth. Hence, a call must go out to all governments and the private sector to heavily invest in this strategy.
The African youth has an unprecedented role to play. The renaissance is about them, about the future of Africa which they are, and in which they shall be found. Accordingly, they must form a continent-wide renaissance movement. This movement should also help in the mobilization and organization of the African youth.
Particular attention must, therefore, be paid to the Southern African Youth Forum. This Congress must resolve to broaden the base of the Forum to also include those youth organizations that are not necessarily our allies, but that would wish to join it. This will expand the base readily available for mobilization and influence for the tasks ahead.
Equally, we need to make a call for the re-establishment of the SADC Youth Council, in order to mobilize all regional governments to develop a common approach to matters of youth. This Council must closely liaise with the civil society structures of youth about youth matters.
The continent-wide organization of the African youth is also critical. The Congress must evaluate whether the Pan-African Youth Movement is still both a relevant and capable organization for the African youth, and whether it is equal to the unprecedented tasks ahead of us. What can, however, not be over-emphasized is the need for a youth led and youth run continental youth organization.
It is obvious that our international obligations and challenges require the unity of purpose among all the world’s youth.
It goes without saying that the ANCYL must spearhead the campaign to strengthen the Non-Aligned Youth and Students Movement. This comes as a particular challenge to us now as we approach the next meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement later this year. This must become yet another arsenal in our offensive to build a really New World Order.
At the Mafikeng Conference, President Nelson Mandela said: "We also need to assist the ANCYL to ensure that it brings up the youth in the traditions of the movement and in a manner that will enable these young people to assume their positions of leadership when the time comes, being clear about their own responsibilities to society".
He suggested that we deal with cadre deployment in a comprehensive and sensitive manner, satisfying the needs of the movement, government at all levels and other key centers of transformation.
At the same time, the President noted the problems and weaknesses of the Alliance and the broad democratic movement, and urged all of us to renew our understanding of what this Revolutionary Alliance and democratic movement are all about.
At their center is a common objective of the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united South Africa. At their head is the African National Congress. Driving this movement are the masses of our people, particularly the poor. And, each of the components of this Alliance and movement is independent, has an independent program and role that fits, however, into the bigger picture.
The effectiveness of the ANC can be affected by political opportunism and personal ambitions arising out of emerging positions and opportunities in government and elsewhere. This has often led to tendencies towards character assassinations resulting in long term divisions and failure to work together. It has become regular these days for comrades to assassinate each other’s characters and not focus on political issues. Clearly, for the ANC to meet its future challenges successfully we must emerge as a united movement whose primary focus is the fulfillment of our people’s aspirations.
In addressing the above-mentioned problems, the ANCYL has played no insignificant part. We are a stabilizing force in the ANC, thwarting many an undesirable ambition and pointing everyone to the urgent tasks facing the movement.
As President Mandela stated above, we must both recruit newer generations into the ANC and also bring them up in the best traditions of the movement in the African National Congress Youth League.
Over the past years relations between the ANC and ANCYL have matured. The ANCYL has played an increasing role in the life of the ANC at all tiers. In fitting tribute to our organizational maturity, we have contributed to building unity and cohesion in the ANC.
In recognition of the fact that the youth must be given responsibilities, the ANC has given many tasks to the ANCYL to either perform alone or as part of an ANC collective. We have always carried these tasks out without any hesitation.
In the conduct of its duties and functions, it is pivotal for this youth organization to define its character. Therefore, the strategic youth strata that must characterize the ANCYL must be the working youth, the professional, student and unemployed youth. The ANCYL must find organization among the urban and rural youth, and young women. At all times, we must appeal to younger generations, striking a balance between the younger and advanced generations of youth.
The Congress must therefore develop a creative strategy to mobilize and organize youth in the current period. This strategy must produce new forms through which we organize in a manner that will give recognition to the fact that in the new era we can no longer use old methods of organizing. This arises particularly from the tertiary students and professional youth who require some specific forms of organization.
Furthermore, the organization must find a better way of utilizing these various resources and skills already possessed by youth, acquired in democratic struggle.
However, the question of the organization of the young intelligentsia and the future role of the students movement begs for a response.
The students movement is a product of struggle, arising because colonial oppression affected every sector of society. It is a tribute to the students of South Africa that, in their mobilization and organization, they have been able to locate their specific demands within the broader demand for freedom. This arises from the knowledge that students are community members before they are students.
Hence, until the mid-1990’s, students have been an integral part of the broader struggles, and have, in their majority, acknowledged the leadership role of the ANC.
The brewing changes in the country led to changes in the character of both the students and their organizations. The organizations of tertiary students have become narrower in approach and have dislocated themselves from the broader struggles for transformation, choosing, instead, to focus on the material interests of students. Often, they advance the interests of their members in a manner that puts them in conflict with the interests of society as a whole, especially the poor.
We must emphatically state that the organization, mobilization and education of the students in this era of the democratic revolution still needs a partisan students movement aligned to the ANC, and understanding and accepting the leadership of the ANC.
This movement must continue to mobilize, organize and educate students for both broader transformation and for championing their own rights as students. This does, however, mean that as an integral part of this broader transformation, they must articulate their rights and responsibilities in a manner consistent with the needs of the majority of the South African people, who are not tertiary students.
The ANCYL, in also mobilizing, organizing and educating students must instill in them this sense of a bigger picture, a responsibility to the nation as a whole. Jointly with its sister organizations, it must mobilize all students for a community service.
The independence and ideological leaning of the students movement must be accepted by the entire movement and not be seen as a threat. It must, however, be guided in order to ensure that this movement does not adopt tendencies towards left-wing infantilism, and narrow sectarianism in organizing students.
It must remain open to all students, regardless of whether they believe in the Marxist-Leninist doctrine or not. This means that despite its ideological leaning, the democratic students movement must remain committed to the successful accomplishment of the democratic revolution, and must, consequently, mobilize all students for this task.
The ANC must take the responsibility to lead the entire youth movement, to instill it with the best practices, cultures and values. It must discharge its leadership, sometimes through the ANCYL, but always directly ! Thus, it will be able to give youth their responsibilities and tasks during the democratic revolution, and will guide them to grow.
We have taken the first steps of this long journey towards national democracy, and the journey is yet to be over. The aspirations and dreams of our people are yet to be fulfilled, and for as long as they are not fulfilled, so long shall we continue to march forward ever and backward never.
The youth of this country is emerging, following in the same pathway as the rest of the nation, from the accumulated effects of our historical burden, to a shared vision that only evil can seek to befoul.
Together, we symbolize the collective journey that all of us, as South Africans, are traversing, from the past of colonialism, oppression, conflicts and wars, to the present of peace, democracy and development. Collectively, you are the image of a future South Africa, a future Africa, a nation and continent reborn. In you, I see complete revolutionaries who have only one mission in this world, to change it.
This Congress must, therefore, spell out a vision and program of how South Africa can prepare her younger generations to be worthy citizens of our country, our continent and the world. We must elaborate a strategic project of how to build a glorious future tailored to the needs of the greatest majority of our people.
In our march forward, we must always remember that this organization was built through the sweat and toil, life and limb of many a Young Lion, and hence we, the current generation, have no right whatsoever to destroy it.
Sometimes our own actions lead to a situation where we almost destroy it, but I trust in you because in the past two years I have come to know for certain that your commitment to this organization is as deep as that of those that founded it.
During this, our 20th Congress, we pledge, once again, to the ANC our support, loyalty and respect. We pledge to the South African people, especially the poor, our commitment to their development.
We pledge, most importantly, to the youth our most sincere commitment to continuing to champion their interests. To that extent, and precisely because they have an objective and subjective interest in the transfer of power to the people, we pledge to mobilize them for the consolidation of people’s power !
I wish you success in your deliberations and may the outcome of this Congress take the democratic revolution forward.
Comrade Chairperson, I am proud and honored to table this report before this, the 20th National Congress !
Forward to Youth Mobilization for the Consolidation of People’s Power !
I thank you !