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The President's Political Report to the 21ST National Congress
Mangaung, April 5th 2001
I would like to welcome President Thabo Mbeki and all the delegates to this important 21st National Congress of the ANC Youth League.
Upon your shoulders all rests the trust and hopes of our people and youth; indeed, the very destiny of our country and continent.
Our movement, our people and our revolution wait anxiously for the deliberations and resolutions of this Congress, all of them keen to know what our next battle-cries are going to be, what battle-orders are we giving to the youth of our country, and what do we say about the escalation of our struggle!
All our people expect that as we assemble like this, this weekend, we will pronounce the future.
So, because we hold this 21st National Congress when the African Century, a people's Century, itself has just commenced.
Accordingly, as Congress, we will hasten, expeditiously but cautiously, to engage seriously with all the matters that constitute the business of this Congress, matters that must ensure that as a youth movement, we discharge our responsibilities to our country and all its people, especially the youth!
So much depends on what we must and will do to determine that future!
In greeting you delegates, I wish, and this surely on your behalf, to greet this beautiful city of Mangaung!
It was here exactly 89 years ago that our glorious movement, the ANC, was founded!
Accordingly, as their heirs, we pay our collective tribute to those wise human beings whose vision and courage ensured that decades after their demise, there would be a strong edifice for us born after them to accomplish their mission!
Here this weekend, to this same city, have assembled the young descendents of these visionaries, ourselves to ponder about the destiny of our people and the direction of the struggle!
A GENERATION AT WORK FOR A BETTER LIFE
Perforce, given this reality of the dawn of a new life, we must adopt an attitude of mind that ours is a generation at work to build a better life!
By our practical actions, by what we do during this time, we must ensure that we demonstrate this bold claim.
The historic conjuncture in which we are placed and grow up demands of us that we should accomplish the national democratic revolution and hence become the generation that will ultimately create and live in a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united South Africa!
We derive this deep understanding from what President Mbeki when opening our 1998 20th National Congress that,
"No other (generation) shall ever again be placed at this moment of transition between the past of slavery and colonialism and the future of renewal, hope and peace"
Those of us assembled here in Mangaung this weekend are a leadership, a vanguard, of a generation that can, as the President again pointed out, "evade the challenges in front of it or neglect the opportunities which this historical conjuncture presents to its shame if not its doom".
We believe, like Franz Fanon that "each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it".
Through this Congress, we shall pronounce for all our people and the world to know that we choose not to evade our challenges or neglect our opportunities, but to fulfil our mission!
We know, as Comrade Lenin once stated the truth, that it is the youth that will decide the ultimate outcome of the struggle.
In outlining these tasks, we must be interested that we develop a deep understanding of this generation to which we belong and which we lead, determined to succeed to rally them behind the mission we have outlined.
So, because to succeed requires that this generation should fully understand this, its lifetime mission, and unite in action in its pursuit.
The attainment of freedom brought about significant political and material changes in society and, with it, some perturbing conduct that portrays among some youth what the January 8th Statement referred to as a "little sense of the larger objective of the creation of a caring and people-centred society".
The democratic victory we scored has exposed them to opportunities they never had before and "has created an assurance among the youth that they do not have to do anything as the government and society have an obligation and are committed to address their needs and aspirations".
Indeed, we must also agree that,
"The country and our people cannot afford this outcome. To avoid it means that we must intensify our work among the youth without ignoring and being insensitive to their youthfulness Innovative ways will have to be found to ensure that they get engaged in their own development and [that] of society in general".
I am certain you will all agree that conditions exist for us to do so and as an organisation of youth to address ourselves to the fact that our society has a very shallow understanding of youth.
Never, perhaps, has the generation gap been so huge between the young and old in this society, characterised by adult conservatism on the one hand, and rebellious youth culture on the other.
This is made worse by the intensification of the neo-liberal offensive on youth seeking to turn them into an impotent force for change, striving hard to inject them with an epidemic pursuit for immediate material gains.
As a political vanguard of the youth, we often battled to cope with this challenge to develop a correct understanding of the youth and the new dynamics they posed.
Instead of being at the vanguard of these developments, and leading the youth towards a full and correct understanding of all the overwhelming changes taking place, we often occupied the rear-guard, failing to adapt and trying to marching in the opposite direction to that of the youth.
As time passed, however, we began to understand these dynamics and to adapt!
To accelerate this, we need to
- strengthen our youth organisation so that it has strong structures and coheres politically,
- strengthen our links with the masses of the youth on a sustained and dynamic basis, ensuring that we remain part of and, at the same time, ahead of them,
- innovatively mobilise these masses of the youth to engage in active struggle, to become themselves builders of a better life,
- drastically and urgently improve the socio-economic situation of the youth to address their economic marginalisation and reverse the conditions that make them gullible to wrong perspectives,
- develop a stronger capacity to communicate with the youth in a simple and understandable manner,
- intensify the ideological and class mobilisation and education of the youth to raise their politicisation and level of national and class consciousness and, hence, prepare them for their role in the struggle,
- urgently develop a young revolutionary intelligentsia that possesses a deep understanding of the challenges facing our country and continent and be at the forefront of advocating and pronouncing policy positions that deepen social change, premising their research and analyses on the correct understanding of the 'colonialism of a special type' thesis and current global and domestic realities of our country and the balance of forces. They must be the advocates of the African Renaissance, and must be an integral component of the progressive movement for our continental renaissance.
Part of the struggle we must wage in this regard, and successfully, is with regard to the creation of a new person of the democratic epoch whose values are consonant with the new evolving society and whose morality, of course, derives its impulse and content from the national aspirations and struggle of the black and poor majority.
THE CONSOLIDATION OF DEMOCRACY
When we met in 1998, we acknowledged the great leaps we had taken as a country, collectively to consolidate and advance our democracy.
We also noted with concern that there were still forces hard at work, using either legal and constitutional or illegal means to defeat our agenda.
This notwithstanding, emphatically we stated our firm belief that we were making firm and decisive progress with regard to consolidating democracy.
As we met in 1998, the greatest challenge in front of us was the winning of the second democratic elections in 1999 and the 2000 local elections.
Accordingly, as we closed the 20th National Congress, we committed ourselves to "work towards a landslide victory for the ANC in the 1999 elections "
The Secretary General's Report shall refer in detail to the work we undertook as the ANCYL to ensure that in both these elections we deliver this landslide victory to the ANC contained in our 1998 Declaration and the challenges we faced, especially with regard to the youth!
As we approached them, we had no doubt in our minds that we still enjoyed the massive confidence and support of the masses of our people who while satisfied with our leadership of this society, wanted us, in partnership with them, to accelerate change!
These people expected that we would use the massive mandate they readily gave us in both these elections drastically to fulfil their aspirations for non-racialism, non-sexism, democracy, unity and prosperity for all.
The outcome of local elections ensured that earnestly we could now begin to create non-racial and non-sexist municipalities on the basis of equality of access to basic services and a better life and bridge the calamitous division between towns and rural areas to end the deliberate neglect of the latter.
Overall, local elections consolidated our victory, ensuring that we govern over 86.4% of South Africa's population.
The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal remained a challenge for the movement, requiring that we continue to pay urgent and strategic attention to them.
Our institutions of democracy are maturing and our people are gaining more confidence in the exercise of democracy. Gradually, democracy is becoming a South African culture.
The victory we scored in both these elections was both facilitated by and itself further facilitated the tilting of the balance of forces in our favour.
Having scored these victories in a space of one year, we must hasten to exercise power without recoil or wavering.
We must strengthen all tiers of government and ensure they live up to the people's expectations, strengthening the capacity of our public representatives appropriately to discharge their responsibilities to ensure that the movement fulfils its mandate to the people.
We must make further advances in increasing our people's capacity to participate in the process of determining their own destiny.
The question of the popular mobilisation of the masses of the people, especially the youth, for their own development is central to the sustainability of the democratic revolution.
We must further accomplish the task of defining the role of traditional authorities to ensure that they too join the leadership and management of the creation of a better life, and urge them not to act as a cork for change.
Of course, the creation of a deep culture of democracy in our country would be meaningless in the absence of a deep and abiding culture of human rights!
First and foremost, this shall refer to ensuring that we refuse to accept the opposition agenda to contrive a false dichotomy between human rights and fundamental social transformation.
It shall mean that we uphold the rule of law and ensure that it earns the respect of all since all shall be equal before the law and shall fully participate in and benefit from all the aspects of our national life.
It shall mean that we uphold the unity in diversity of our people and intensify the struggle to create a non-racial society.
In the past three years, notwithstanding stubborn challenges, we made immense progress in this regard, of course, strengthened in our resolve by the knowledge that the international community still marches in tandem with us to punish the crime of racism.
This year, South Africa shall host the international conference against racism, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination.
The NGC took extensive resolutions on this matter and further urged the ANC to support and encourage the efforts of the ANCYL as it engaged the Afrikaner youth in search for reconciliation, co-operation and non-racialism.
In this regard, we must salute the Afrikanerbond Youth League for its courageous efforts working in partnership with us to rally the youth behind nation building - in them we have reliable friends and partners!
Believing that the addressing of the socio-economic disparities created by apartheid would be the central material condition through which the new non-racial society will be created, we have accelerated the creation of a better life for all, especially the black and poor majority.
Nonetheless, the forces of the past waged stubborn resistance to this effort as they sought to negate this outcome.
Among others, they simply denied the persistence of racism in our society even as heartless acts of racism took place everywhere in this country, in farms, among the police and elsewhere, demonstrating the distance we still had to travel finally to put behind our nation this great tragedy called racism!
The democratic victory we scored and the overwhelming support of our people for our cause created an urgency for the parties of racism to unite in defence of the narrow and exclusive racial interests of the white minority and form the Democratic Alliance, based on fear and hatred for the black majority.
The convening of the National Conference against racism by the South African Human Rights Commission provided our country with the most needed opportunity to debate this scourge.
Whereas inordinate challenges still await us to ensure that we rally the youth, black and white, behind this banner of non-racialism, a great number of South Africans are obviously eager that we succeed in our effort to de-racialise this country and are prepared to unite in action for this.
At the same time as we have pursued the struggle for non-racialism, we have also pursued that for the creation of a non-sexist society.
In this pursuit, we were still guided by the fact that our struggle for national and social emancipation was intricately linked with that for women emancipation and gender equality.
Much distance has been covered both within our country and organisation, but much more still needs to be.
As part of its direct intervention, the NEC decided to enforce the co-option of more young women into all executive structures of the organisation with some degree of resistance from some of our lower structures.
Black, especially working class and rural, women continue to be the worst victims of national, social and patriarchal oppression, marginalisation and disadvantage and, consequently, they must occupy the centre-stage of this struggle.
A firm base exists for us to succeed in the execution of this struggle and, in this effort, to lead the masses of our people, especially the youth.
Our success in this regard will depend on our leadership of society as a whole to defeat the age-old entrenched patriarchal, cultural and material systems that justify and entrench women's oppression.
Fulfilling this challenge means that we must, first and foremost, strengthen the ANC Women's League to lead this difficult struggle.
Among others, this means that we must recruit young women into the ANCWL and ensure that its character, programmes and leadership reflects this fact that young women are women too.
It must work hard to discharge its responsibilities to lead society along the revolutionary notion of women emancipation.
As the ANCYL, we must lead our generation to an understanding that women emancipation and gender equality are a central pillar of our pursuit for the African Century, an anchor without which we cannot create a better life for all.
Our generation must understand this that the burden ultimately to destroy sexism rests heavily on our shoulders.
Further, we must vigorously pursue an all-round and integrated programme to promote gender equality among the youth and our own organisation and champion the empowerment, development and affirmation of young women in all political, social and economic spheres.
Together with the IFP Youth Brigade, we have continued to pursue ever-lasting peace guided by the perspective that in relating with the IFP, we are not mechanically trading government positions for peace, but ours continues to be a principled approach informed by the understanding that we are pursuing the objective of uniting our people whose basic aspirations are best served by this co-operation.
Having achieved political victory, we knew that we would need to move with speed to create and expand the material base without which the goal of a better life for all would remain an illusion.
We understood this to mean that we must achieve high levels of economic growth, development and redistribution on a sustainable basis to eliminate the legacy of apartheid as a result of which ours continues to be a society with endemic poverty, gross imbalances in the levels of development and distribution of wealth, income and opportunity.
Surely, we could not even begin to progress towards this objective using the instruments bequeathed us by the apartheid economy which, by 1994, was immersed in a deep structural crisis.
Accordingly, to achieve this and other goals of fundamental change we needed a strong and active developmental modern and effective state steeped in the pursuit of the goals of our revolution.
We have continued in the past three years to debate both the nature of such a state as well as a strategic approach to the matter of transforming it.
We must therefore applaud the Public Service Jobs Summit whose outcome we hope would also assist to address some of these strategic challenges.
But, we must still accelerate the effort to fundamentally transform our economy to achieve deep structural change in it and in the socio-economic delivery systems in order to achieve sustainable growth, development and improved standards of living.
To elaborate, this entails high and sustained rates of investments, restructuring the economy away from the production of primary products, expanding and modernising the infrastructure, raising the skills levels among the working people, increasing exports of manufactured goods and services, putting the challenges of the developing world on the agenda of the global system of governance and ensuring that the state plays its appropriate role.
We seek to modernise our economy, make it competitive and put it on a positive, sustainable and developmental growth path.
Seven years ago the RDP stated that to finance reconstruction and development we needed,
- to avoid undue and excessive inflation and balance of payments difficulties which would worsen the position of the poor, curtail growth and cause the RDP to fail,
- redirect government spending to increase capital and consumption expenditure and improve revenue-recovery rather than increase government spending as a proportion of the GDP,
- address the existing ratios of the deficit, borrowing and taxation to GNP, and above all,
- achieve macroeconomic stability in order to achieve microeconomic improvements.
We will remember that the RDP did not then proceed to elaborate in detail how this macro stability was to be pursued except to direct us to address it.
Five years ago, we embarked upon this macro-economic stabilisation programme and now we have begun to progress towards microeconomic reform.
The point we wish to make here is that to address the challenges of the RDP it became necessary that we make certain political choices with regard to some economic matters, choices that, including the stabilisation process itself, were objectively imposed on us by concrete material conditions such as the structural crisis of the apartheid economy and economic integration into the processes of globalisation, and that this stabilisation programme would be limited in that it would not immediately resolve some of the urgent challenges we faced such as unemployment.
In its Youth Employment Strategy, the ANCYL had noted these latter matters and that in order to address youth unemployment, among others, we needed to increase aggregate employment and put measures directly to induce (youth) employment and skills development.
The time has surely come for our economy to move away from self-defence, stabilisation, towards expansion and job creation.
The budget can now be used actively to induce employment, skills development, foreign direct investments, capital expenditure and increase consumption expenditure.
The challenge, of course, is still to ensure that we improve the government's capacity and efficiency to optimally utilise these resources.
Of course, in many regards, we have progressed some distance to change the quality of life of our people and, in the process, our economy has progressed steadily to grow and expand, improve its global competitiveness and create possibilities for further growth.
However, the President stated in the 2001 State of the Nation Address that,
" the reality remains that our rate of growth is still too low as are the aggregate savings and investment rates. Similarly, the levels of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment in some parts of our country are too high".
Among others, this will require that we accelerate infrastructural development, the development of industrial development zones and spatial development initiatives, the promotion of tourism and the development of our economic capacity to take advantage of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.
We must still continue to enhance economic co-operation and partnership with our neighbours in the Southern African region, in such areas as manufacturing, information and communications technology, tourism, infrastructural development and trade.
To be able to achieve this goal of modernising our economy and putting it on an expansionary and competitive mould, we must work hard to raise the required skills levels among our people.
Accordingly, drastic and bold steps must be taken to accelerate the integrated human resources development strategy as part of improving the conditions that underpin and constitute the enabling framework for economic efficiency and competitiveness.
Among others, and as we attract foreign technology and advance our own productive forces, we must attract higher skills into our country while retaining the ones we already possess and accelerate the production of more using our own institutions and infrastructure.
Further, such skills are necessary as we shift towards increasing and modernising our manufacturing capacity so that we can export manufactured goods rather than unprocessed commodities such as minerals and raw agricultural products.
Accordingly, we must applaud the President's initiatives to help propel our country towards the information society and development.
The youth of South Africa must be seized of empowering and equipping themselves with modern skills.
It has become quite urgent to expedite the application of modern information and communications technology in the fields of education, health, commerce and government and to make this part of our national culture.
And, we should further commend the initiative to establish the continent-wide telecommunications network.
We can also not over-stress that our success depends on the partnership between the public and private sectors on the basis of mutually beneficial interests.
In this regard, we wish to call for the establishment of development partnership involving government, labour, business and the broader civil society at all tiers of society.
Up to now, the youth have largely been viewed in South Africa as consumers and negligible economic passengers.
At the 20th National Congress we stated our intention to make the contribution of the youth into the economy to transcend this limitation.
Practical steps have been taken in the direction of initiating a youth entrepreneurship strategy and structure, engaging young African entrepreneurs, aimed at creating and capturing business for the youth in both the private and co-operative sectors.
Soon, announcements will be made in this regard and further steps taken and Congress documents also address themselves to this matter.
Often, youth initiatives are frustrated by lack of access to seed capital, information and support.
Therefore, we challenge government agencies such as the IDC, KHULA and NTSIKA themselves to respond to this challenge of promoting an entrepreneurship spirit among the youth and youth-owned enterprises.
We challenge youth, women and disabled people to pick this challenge up to develop a vibrant SMME sector, co-operative movement and further take advantage of cultural industries.
Further, the private sector, especially the banks, must formulate programmes that will boost the small, micro and medium enterprise sector, including local economic development and promote youth-owned enterprises.
As this Congress, therefore, we should openly throw our full weight behind the SACP-led campaign against red-lining!
The restructuring of state enterprises has continued to pose a challenge to our effort of economic transformation.
The approach taken by government has been as directed by the RDP that we should restructure these enterprises in order to boost our economy, revenue and create quality and sustainable jobs.
In this regard, the RDP directed government to opt for full privatisation, or full state-ownership, or establish strategic equity partnerships.
We must state that this has been difficult to pursue in the context of rising job losses in the formal sector and has, in some instances, been compounded by some gross errors on the part of some state enterprises such as TELKOM.
We still insist that the framework agreement between government and labour on the matter of the restructuring of state assets must be followed to the letter.
Further, we insist that where privatisation and equity partnerships must be sought, a deliberate move must be taken to save jobs or minimise job losses and empower black people, youth and women in particular, including through technology and skills which would boost black economic empowerment.
Questions have remained to be answered with regard to this notion of black economic empowerment.
Our Congress must make its own pronouncements on the matter, emphasising that black economic empowerment means the empowerment of all black people, not just a small elite that accrues all wealth being distributed to the historically disadvantaged.
We must define new parameters for black economic empowerment and ensure that we subtract from it the notion of avarice and failure!
At the same time, we must aggressively pursue the matter of creating quality and sustainable jobs, particularly to address the intensifying crisis of youth unemployment in rural and urban areas.
In the past years, many objective factors have conspired to cause massive job losses in the formal economy and create and sustain youth unemployment.
UMSOBOMVU Fund has been created as an attempt to alleviate this crisis.
This year's budget does also address itself to long-term job creation strategies that include,
- wage incentives for employers, to encourage job creation by reducing the cost of hiring new workers,
- incentives targeted at strategic industrial projects which fulfil, among others, job creation,
- the reduced tax rates for small and medium enterprises, and
- the infrastructural and investment and maintenance programme.
The onus is now on capital to play its part as a trusted partner of the state and society to cease the investment boycott and contribute to the eradication of poverty by making the economy grow and create sustainable jobs.
We have begun to move swiftly towards integrated development, concentrating and co-ordinating our resources and efforts to intensify our sustained offensive against poverty.
In fighting poverty, we seek to address the holistic needs of all our people, old and young, men and especially women, urban and especially rural and our success in this effort depends on our people becoming the cutting-edge of and active participants in their own development and our branches becoming the catalysts for community upliftment.
We have put before our nation the pursuit of both the integrated sustainable rural development and urban renewal strategies entailing investment in the economic and social infrastructure, human resource development, enterprise development, and the enhancement of the development capacity of local government to co-ordinate their implementation.
Together with these programmes geared towards stimulating the economy, investments and job creation, we have established a developmental Poverty Relief Fund.
Major strides have been made to open the doors of learning and culture.
Education occupies a central position in the national integrated human resources development and the development of new values, norms and persons that must anchor the new society we are building.
Since the 20th National Congress, some of the milestones we have witnessed in education include,
- the adoption of TIRISANO,
- the revising of Curriculum 2005 and the outcomes-based education,
- the finalisation of the Commission for Higher Education report and the announcement of the Higher Education Plan,
- the finalisation of the further education and training perspective, and
- the drastic improvement of the matric results for the year 2000 signalling a new approach, attitude and seriousness among our students, teachers and parents.
A legislative and policy framework is solidly in place and the challenge is to translate these into practice.
We must pay urgent attention to the mastery of mathematics, science and technology, especially by black, female and rural students.
We must support government efforts to ensure that information and communications technology is urgently applied in our education and, in this regard, challenge business itself to contribute massive resources particularly to train the disadvantaged youth in advanced technologies.
This Congress should note it with sadness that the overwhelming majority of the black youth, especially African and female youth, continue to preponderate in general subjects while the sciences remain an exclusive domain of predominantly white and male students.
A pivotal challenge will remain that even if modest progress were made appropriately to achieve this outcome, a requisite corps of instructors will need to be produced.
Almost a decade ago schools began to admit students of all racial groups, thus opening up a real possibility that we can begin to have integrated schools that would help us deal more directly with the problems of racism, cultural intolerance and other challenges.
However, many schools have either not tried or just dismally failed to properly manage the integration process thus fuelling racial conflicts in many schools such as Vryburg, Bryanston and others.
Black schools have remained in crisis, needing urgent revitalisation.
Racial problems have also been rife in historically white higher learning institutions.
We must resolve to embark on an extensive anti-racism campaign in higher learning institutions which must include requesting the Human Rights Commission to urgently institute an investigation in this regard.
The ANCYL should support the broad thrust of the new Higher Education Plan, especially as it must stimulate South Africa's higher education.
But we must condemn the exclusion of the youth and students as principal players from the task team that must investigate and make recommendations about the integration of higher learning institutions!
This Congress must welcome the President's re-assurance to the youth that a new impetus will be thrown into ensuring that youth development takes pride of place in all government and societal institutions, especially at local government level.
Youth development must address the historical legacy of colonialism and equip the youth, especially the black youth, with the capacity requisite for them to fulfil their historic mission and occupy the forward trenches for today's struggles!
One of the major challenges we have faced in recent times has been that of youth mobilisation for development.
In retrospect, when the movement ascended to power in 1994, it should have implemented, as one of the major lead projects, the national youth service programme aimed at improving the skills levels of youth, give them work and life experience whilst at the same time mobilising them to serve their communities.
We must therefore vehemently criticise government delays in adopting this programme and consequently we must demand that everything be done to ensure that it gets off the ground this year.
We must further attend to the issues of arts, culture and sports, especially indigenous sports.
Clearly, enormous resources must be invested in the development of community arts and culture and support for contemporary arts and culture such as KWAITO and others.
Our arts and culture must be injected, though, with the values consistent with the new non-racial, non-sexist and united society we are creating.
At the same time, we must strive to expand the participation especially of black people to sports through creating access to facilities and opportunities for development and mobility.
In this regard, we call on all the youth and sports-loving people of the Western Cape to join the march next week to the Cape Metro Council to force it to open the gates of the Newlands Stadium to soccer.
We salute the National and Provincial Youth Commissions, their Commissioners and Staff for the sterling work they continue to do against all odds.
Besides their successes, some of the difficult challenges they have faced have related to,
- the lack of tangible political support of government Officials, especially Ministers and MECs, who have often not co-operated with it in the implementation of youth development programmes emerging either from their Ministries or from the Commissions themselves,
- the Commissions have no implementation powers despite so much expectations from the youth, and our youth continue not to know this important information,
- the opposition and the media have waged relentless campaigns of disinformation about the Commissions,
- the Commissions do not have adequate resources to carry out some of their tasks and they function on shoe-string budgets.
In addition, the overwhelming majority of our municipal governments do not have youth development policies, budgets and structures, and therefore play no role in youth development.
This Congress must make an urgent call to the Minister of Local Government Affairs to urgently develop legislation in this regard.
We have also faced problems with regard to the South African Youth Council which has been crippled by lack of capacity, poor leadership, no programmes and lack of resources.
We have, as an organisation, officially urged the NYC to assist the SAYC with regard to capacity development and resources.
Having taken the decision to directly participate in the legislative and governance arena through the deployment of Y-PMs, Y-MPLs and Y-MCs to raise the profile of youth issues, we must evolve a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we succeed to make an impact in this regard.
Quite clearly, we have tasks we must fulfil to accelerate our struggle to realise our objective of "a better health for all".
As a result of poverty, enormous proportions of our people continue to lack access to primary health care and affordable medicines, and consequently are victims of curable and preventable diseases such as cholera, STDs, HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, hepatitis and such diseases as those caused by vitamin, protein and energy deficiency.
This means that we must continue to have a comprehensive approach to the health challenge, an approach that includes sanitation and water, as well as an integrated household food security and nutrition strategy.
Within this context, we must also focus on the HIV/AIDS challenge.
As an organisation, we must proceed from a premise that AIDS is preventable, and hence our strategy must reinforce the government's multi-pronged strategy that involves public education and awareness (spreading the practice of ABC), strengthening treatment, care and support for the infected and affected, focusing on the treatment of all opportunistic diseases in the public health care system and support research for the vaccine.
This is a disease the youth must defeat!
This victory to which we refer depends on the active participation of our people in support of this integrated strategy.
We must continue to hold the view that the challenge of HIV/AIDS is much more complex than only a question of anti-retroviral drugs and, consequently, our fighting strategy must consist of more than drugs and must involve a sustained offensive against all sexually transmitted diseases and must address poverty itself!
Firmly, we must make the point that our objective of "better health for all" is for us a matter for fundamental human rights.
It is quite obvious to us that the approach of our political opposition, the media and the pharmaceutical industry towards HIV/AIDS is narrowly about the purchase and provision of drugs, especially the anti-retroviral drugs!
The truth of this pronouncement is illustrated by the current case filed by the pharmaceutical industry against the government and other campaigns that have been waged to coerce government to provide these drugs!
Quite obviously, we have an obligation to meet the pharmaceutical industry in theatre of struggles and mobilise widespread international and domestic support particularly among the youth in support of government positions.
THE PURSUIT OF THE AFRICAN CENTURY
For as long as it has existed, the ANC has known that it was born of the African people and is a child of their struggle against colonialism.
Our national oppression having itself grown of the colonisation of the rest of our continent, we have understood it that our struggle for national liberation is a struggle to free the rest of our continent from colonial bondage and consequently, our pursuit for the African Renaissance is inseparable from that of our national democracy.
It is this perspective that has inspired our approach to the challenges of our freedom in South Africa and the attainment of final victory over colonialism throughout Africa.
The beginning of the Year 2001 ushered in the African Century for Democracy, Peace and Development.
As we pursue it, all of us must know that our success depends on the mobilisation of a continent-wide progressive movement for democracy, peace and development.
From the outset we must state the obvious that the working class and the rural poor must occupy the forward trenches of the pursuit of this objective.
What the pursuit of the African Century calls for, principally, is the development of an economic material base for Africa to be able to pursue the creation of a better life for all her people!
The Millennium Africa Recovery Programme is thus a programmatic response to this challenge, an integrated development plan of the continent, developed in, suited to the unique conditions of and to be implemented in Africa, among others addressing itself to the matter of creating peace, security and stability and democratic governance; human resources development; the development of a comprehensive industrial strategy; increasing investments in the information and communications technology; infrastructural development and financing mechanism.
It also responds to the pertinent challenge of globalisation, seeking to develop Africa's capacity to integrate into the world economy as a producer and exporter of value added goods.
In this way, we seek to engage both the South and the industrialised countries in a new partnership characterised, not by colonial relations as before, but as equal partners on the journey for human progress and development.
This programme subscribes to the notion of African leadership and, through it Africans are taking responsibility for their own development, setting their own terms for engagement with the rest of the world.
Further, it addresses itself to the crucial matter of the strengthening of the capacity of the African states to develop their own capacity to engage with these mammoth economic development challenges.
To succeed with the sustainable economic development plan, we together with the developed countries must develop a comprehensive debt relief programme for the highly indebted poor countries.
Further, it seeks to eliminate the tendency among the developed countries, especially in Europe, to seek to establish in Africa client States, puppet regimes and organisations and pseudo-democratic puppet leaders.
We need to emphasise that the youth have a catalysing role to play in this noble effort of their people. Again, because we are a generation at work to build a better life!
We must know this that our intensive pursuit for learning, community service, social responsibility, social discipline and development activism is central to this attainment of the objectives of the African Century!
In pursuit of this, we must strengthen the Southern African Youth Forum and ensure that it becomes our instrument, autonomously as young people, to critique the present and plan the future, and develop the future leadership for this region and continent that would take over from the current crop of leaders and accomplish the decolonisation struggle.
Further, we must intensify our solidarity and bonds of friendship with our fellow African people throughout the continent and re-affirm our oneness with them, eliminating xenophobia from our actions!
In this regard, we must continue to draw attention towards those on our continent that continue to be host to wars, dictatorships, terrorist violence, floods and poverty.
We speak here of the peoples of Angola, Swaziland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Comoros, Sudan, Western Sahara, Swaziland, Algeria, Mozambique and others.
Our prayers are for the peoples of Angola and Western Sahara that they too should someday, certainly soon, know peace and freedom and raise their children, their future generations, back on their homeland.
We trust that the international community will act urgently to fulfil its undertakings with regard to the resolution of the issues at hand.
We must continue to accelerate the resolution of the land question; doing so in a manner that does not antagonise and neglect the plight of the urban people, especially the youth.
We have still remained perturbed by the deteriorating situation in Palestine. We insist on the right of the Palestinian people to national sovereignty, self-determination and a peaceful future!
To the people and fighting youth of Palestine, we extend our hand of solidarity and support!
We continue to regard the Cuban people as one with us and as comrades-in-arms in our common struggle against imperialism.
This, the 21st National Congress, must salute Mama Afrika, Mama Miriam Makeba, for being appointed by the President as South Africa's Goodwill Ambassador to Africa!
All of us, youth in particular, must become Goodwill Ambassadors ourselves, everywhere to represent the best and noblest efforts of our people and mobilise support for Africa!
GLOBALISATION AND THE STRUGGLE FOR A BETTER WORLD ORDER
Our pursuit for national democracy and the African Renaissance will be both incomplete and unsuccessful unless we pursue, at the same time, the creation of a new and better world order.
We live in a world characterised by deep inequalities within and between nations where the forces of production, spurred by information and communications revolution, have reached unprecedented levels of development thus increasing the mobility of capital, finance and skilled labour, and have also led to the disappearance of barriers to trade and costs of transactions.
Today, there is sufficient technology, resources and capital completely to eradicate poverty and attain universal basic services.
But, regardless, abject poverty continues to be the cold reality for about half the world's population living on less than $2 a day, with even more continuing to knock at the gates of poverty and the working people continuing to bear the brunt of this system.
This development has resulted in increasing integration of national systems of production and finance reflected, amongst other things, in the emergence of the systems of global governance whose rules and regulations adhere only to the selfish and rapacious interests of the dominant countries and private property owners.
It is further driven by the policies of trade and financial liberalisation, spearheaded by multi-national corporations, multi-lateral trading and financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
In this process, the role of the nation state and its sovereignty is fast and sharply declining and disappearing, and yet this is a time when it is most needed considering that the market has proven itself completely inadequate as a provider of services, goods and a better life to the poor.
This is an era characterised by the dominance of capitalism virtually throughout the entire globe.
We have continued to witness the pursuit of narrow national interests in such institutions as the WTO reflected, sometimes, in great levels of protectionism of agricultural products and 'grandfather' industries such as steel, textiles and others in developed countries.
This phenomenon to which we have referred above is an evolving and ongoing historical process called globalisation which, if taken out of its historical and economic relations, becomes irrational and inexplicable!
Terrible as it is, we must engage it to re-shape and redirect its impact, indeed, like the 1999 Commonwealth Declaration states, to channel its forces for the elimination of poverty and the empowerment of human beings to lead fulfilling lives.
Accordingly, we wish to make the following suggestions on this matter of globalisation:
- we must, especially as developing countries, deliberately and consciously intervene in the process of globalisation to produce the results of ethics, equity, inclusion, human security, sustainability and development as would favour particularly the poor;
- we must intensify the campaign for the drastic transformation of the international trading and financial institutions to take on board the interests and concerns of the countries of the South;
- governments of developed countries must eliminate protectionism in their approach to trade through, among others, dismantling barriers to trade, eliminating blockages experienced by developing countries and expand the access products from developing countries to their markets and promote fair trade that mutually benefits all;
- linked to the above, the rates of flow of (private) foreign direct investments must be increased, especially to Africa;
- the HIPC initiative must be extended to include more poor countries;
- the countries of the South must work more as a collective, rather than individual countries, to mobilise more resources for development, increase trade between them, and together advocate, lobby and campaign for the transformation of international trading and financial institutions and the development of new rules, ethics and regulations to guide international trade, financial and capital flows;
- we should incessantly work to promote international human solidarity as a prominent feature of our striving for human development and the attainment of universal human rights within the globalisation process;
- in accordance with the 1999 Commonwealth Declaration, the developed countries must assist the developing countries to build up their skills and manufacturing capacities, including the production and export of value-added goods, using modern science and technology, to enhance growth and achieve prosperity and ensure that developing countries attain higher levels of technology, capital and skills; and
- within this entire process, continue to uphold the labour standards of workers.
Part of our approach to globalisation involves working within the Socialist International to ensure that it ceases to represent the exclusive interests of the developed European countries whilst claiming to be international.
As a socialist/social-democratic movement it must truly subscribe to the progressive values of internationalism and international solidarity, and its ideological orientation must be towards the poor and working people.
We must further ensure that the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) becomes transformed so that it can fulfil the title of being an international union of socialist youth both in form and content! We remain concerned that often it fails to fulfil this requirement ideologically!
Furthermore, this Congress must reiterate its calls on IUSY and the World Federation of Democratic Youth, for the sake of the progressive youth movement in the world, to bridge their differences and unite in common struggle for the elimination of global poverty and the attainment of world peace and social justice.
THE IDEOLOGICAL AND POLITICAL STRUGGLES
The steady progress to which we have referred above takes place in a context of a difficult political and ideological struggle.
Precisely because this is a struggle whose ultimate goal is the fundamental social change, including, among others, re-configuring property relations, it must, out of necessity, evoke intense opposition from those opposed to the agenda we are pursuing, seeking to preserve the status quo.
Poised against us are a range forces deriving their mandate from the stubborn and selfish racist interests of the white minority. These forces are led by the Democratic Alliance and consist of those social forces among the national minorities that are driven by racism; the liberal and conservative forces internationally; and the mass media that has positioned itself, in our country, as an opposition to the ANC and the democratic government.
Also ranged against the movement are the ultra-left forces as well as some quislings within the black population who for a variety of reasons have chosen to join shoulders with the white right-wing.
The overwhelming support we enjoy among the ordinary masses, the increasing domestic and international strength of our movement, the greater coherence we have introduced into the functioning of government, our judicious management of the economy, the success we are beginning to record with regard to the systematic targeting of poverty in an integrated manner and others serve to prick the anger and frustration of these forces.
They have launched an intense ideological and political warfare against our movement, negating every step forward we take, putting forward their own ideas and programmes which they demand that we should adopt, and which they present as the ideas and programme of the nation as a whole!
They expect us never to depart from the neo-liberal paradigm and ideas proffered from the "North" which include the notion that to undertake this mammoth task of fundamental social transformation we need to rely on the market forces and a minimalist state that is emasculated, with no power, resources and programmes to achieve the goals of our revolution.
They have determined that they will undermine the authority and all organs of the democratic state, challenge the rule of law if it does serve their purposes and try to de-legitimise the government and present it as corrupt, inefficient and incapable to rule.
Steeped as they are in the past, they deny the persistence of racism in our country and accuse every programme to dismantle the disparities created by this iniquitous system as racism in reverse.
They are determined to destroy the ANC and the progressive movement both in South Africa and the rest of our continent, especially in Southern Africa, seeking to isolate South Africa by surrounding it with governments formed by indigenous liberal and right-wing forces.
In this regard, they have concentrated the volume of their attacks around the President, seeking to defile him and denigrate his persona and integrity.
Thanks to the resilience of our people, their unyielding will to be free and their high level of consciousness, we have been able thus far to force our way up the high road of fundamental social transformation.
We are duty bound, therefore, to rise in defence of our revolution, our movement and its leader, remaining completely focused and shifting our posture from the defensive to the offensive.
The complexity of this struggle has posed a challenge for the movement to review the instruments and cadres we have to wage this battle including, among other things, reviewing the challenges of organisation.
CHALLENGES OF ORGANISATION
We continue to hold the view, as did our forebears, that the ANC is the symbol of the people's will to present a united national front against all forms of oppression and is destined for a great purpose and mission, and that it is at once the life, the national awareness and the political experience of the popular masses of South Africa.
As an organisational expression of our people's singleness of purpose, we must proceed tirelessly to work for its unity and ensure that it is able to discharge its responsibilities to the people of our country and continent.
The changed material and political circumstances have created new challenges for our movement with regard to its cadres and their ability often to strike a balance between their individual material interests and those of the movement.
From time to time, the movement has become victim to ubiquitous and rampant opportunism, corruption, careerism and epidemic manipulation of members, especially new and young, by senior cadres schooled in the ANC and its culture.
We have learnt that our structures are not really seized of the new challenges of the movement and are not engaging the masses in active mass political work but are, rather, deeply divided over particularly material matters.
Learning from the spirit of the NGC, we must all hasten to learn the ways of the ANC and develop a profound appreciation of the demands placed on the shoulders of disciplined and loyal cadres of this movement.
We must work hard to strengthen it, strengthen its dynamic links with the masses of the people on a sustained and permanent basis and mobilise them to act consciously as builders of their own better life.
As a youth organisation, history demands of us that we develop jealousy for the future of our movement and the success of the cause it is pursuing.
This means that we must act today to preserve the ANC, its traditions and culture, its mission and purpose, of course, for the future!
The ANC has remained committed to building and strengthening the ANC Youth League guided by the knowledge that the ANC needs a Youth League if it is to succeed to rally and steep the younger generations into the struggle and bridge the generation gaps between the old and the young in the execution of the struggle!
It has remained committed to the autonomy of the ANCYL guided by the belief that "young people's appreciation of democratic ideals is better consolidated if validated by their independent experience in struggle".
Sadly, we have learned, that many ANC leaders do not understand the position and role of the ANCYL in the movement and this revolution, and of its relations with the ANC.
Many of them happily join ranks with those whose sole and vile agenda is to destroy it; they go out to destroy and compete with it, giving it no political or material support thus inhibiting the execution of its duties.
Yet, on the other hand, some among our own young cadres have tended to focus more on the ANC to the neglect of the ANCYL.
A great challenge awaits the generations of youth in the ANC today to mobilise, organise and educate the youth to act for revolution!
We have arrived at a decisive moment in the history of our struggle where the struggle for the fulfilment of our revolution must be conducted under completely new conditions.
We have an opportunity today to advance our cause to ultimate consummation using both the instruments that the success of our revolution and the advancement of the means of production have placed before us.
To do so means that we must adapt our organisation and all its organs to both the demands and dynamics of the new era and devise new dynamic and versatile methods to mobilise the youth.
We must strive yet in the 21st Century to become the repository of the best youth in society and make ours the catalyst for community and particularly youth development.
We have ourselves not escaped the difficulties of transition, having faced many organisational challenges ranging from the poor quality of some of our cadre, to divisions, weak branches, weak regional and provincial executive committees, and the surrendering of our organisation for use by corrupt and opportunistic individuals simply for material rewards.
We have failed in many provinces, regions and branches to act as bulwarks for unity in the ANC as well as the movement as a whole.
To correct this situation, we have, over these last three years, embarked on the "Back to Basics" programme seeking to inject our structures with the necessary political capacity to be able to confront their challenges.
In this regard, we salute the Mandlenkosi Branch from Beaufort West in Western Cape that won the Anton Lembede Award for the most outstanding and exemplary branch of the ANC Youth League, we trust that all our branches will work hard to stake their claims to this prestigious award.
One of the greatest challenges to face the movement has been that relating to the Tripartite Alliance.
We must state here boldly that the differences that have happened in the Alliance have not just been technical, merely about the functioning of structures such as the Secretariat.
They have related to the matter of how to manage this transition and the secondary contradictions emerging between the social motive forces of the revolution out of the fact that the NDR is a unity of more than one classes and strata all of which, whilst united around the common objective of national emancipation, but have divergent sectoral interests.
Precisely because the NDR neither aims to eliminate the basic antagonism between capital and labour, nor to eradicate the disparate and sometimes contradictory interests that some motive forces of the NDR pursue, there has remained the urgency for the movement to pursue the unity of these motive forces, mobilise them and manage secondary contradictions.
It is these that have led to many fierce differences in the Alliance, further exacerbated by the fact that the task to manage these contradictions was left to the ANC alone.
The ANC and SACP must, at all times, strengthen the labour movement and provide it with coherent and consistent political leadership.
Further to this, the ANC must muster mass formations such that their primary efforts are directed at pursuing fundamental change.
The SACP itself has been striving for growth, especially among the working masses and the poor in general.
Its greatest challenge has been to engage with the new concrete dynamics to give expression to the socialist ideal while continuing to uphold the thesis that the most primary struggle today in South Africa is the national struggle.
Also receiving our attention and energy has been the Progressive Youth Alliance.
The greatest challenge facing this Alliance has been the changed material and political landscape in our country and its impact on the levels of youth consciousness and political activism.
For historical reasons and because of the very fact that it represents the full gamut of the political and socio-economic interests of the youth of our country, the ANC Youth League stands at the centre and head of the progressive youth movement.
This leadership role must not be in doubt and must be fully expressed by all our organisational structures and respected by the entire youth movement.
The progressive youth movement must reinforce the ANCYL politically, organisationally and sentimentally rather than expend its energies competing with it and questioning its leadership.
The particular challenge we all face as the progressive youth movement is that of preparing the next organic cadres of the movement and ground the future generations into the culture and practices of the movement.
As a youth movement, we must act unflinchingly for revolution, shouldering the responsibility to propel humankind forward to a higher stage of social development when the exploitation and oppression of human by human will have disappeared.
A TRIBUTE TO OUR MARTYRS
As the 21st National Congress convenes, some outstanding cadres and patriots that have been so much a part of our movement and struggle have departed to a world beyond the comprehension of the living.
These include Alfred Nzo, Fred Carneson, Sonia Bunting, Parks Mankahlana, Tshepo Nkoli, Isaiah Ntshangase, IC Meer, Steve Segale, Caleb Motshabi, Dr. Diliza Mji (senior), Solly Maseko, Bheki Mkhize, Kate Zuma, Gora Ebrahim, Fihli Mbongo, Ntemi Piliso, Simon Mahlathini Nkabinde, Khaya Majola, Ray Velaphi Ntlokwana, Margaret Mcengana, Professor Peteni, Mary Benson, Nomayisi Hani, Nomakhwezi Hani, Moses Taiwa Molelekwa and others.
Perhaps, in the passage of time, our memories will fail us, fade and disappear together with these that we loved and cared for so dearly, leaving us with voids of useless memories, not remembering these that stood like towers in our collective journey to a better life, lightening the firmament of our horizon, having forgotten what they stood for and what they meant in our lives.
We cannot allow our national and collective memory to forget them occupying as they do pride of place in our hearts!
To them we say rest in peace. What you did for the nation will never be forgotten!
Events of the past three years, the positive and overwhelming response and support of our people and the fervent reaction of our opponents to our cause, have confirmed the correctness of our decisions!
Accordingly, those of us gathered here at this Congress are the harbingers of a better future and testimony of the correctness of the path we are blazing as a people.
I ask you, therefore, never to take for granted this fact that you are the chosen delegates of our youth and I completely trust that you shall represent them well in your deliberations and resolutions.
As the 21st National Congress, we salute these comrades who, for various reasons, bow down and out having dedicated their entire youth to the service of this youth organisation that had become their cradle.
They depart now to embark upon new causes on new terrains they must still familiarise themselves with.
Best of luck dear comrades, and we trust that you shall continue to relate to this organisation in a manner behoving veterans and shall ensure that we continue to hold you in high esteem.
As veterans, we trust that you shall not fail to fairly criticise our actions, advice, support and guide us throughout the cause of our journey, rather than interact with us only when Congresses near and you have opinions about who should occupy what leadership position.
You continue to be the Goodwill Ambassadors of this organisation. Teach us therefore how to be good cadres so that we do not fail in our duties!
Dear Delegates, it is my deepest honour and privilege to table before this, the 21st National Congress, this Political Report.
Good luck in your deliberations!
I thank you!