Hlomelang: Official Online Publication of the ANCYL
ANCYL Constitution: as amended and adopted by the 25th National Congress September 2015
Hlomelang: Vol. 13 No. 1: 25 July  07 August 2016
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Our history has been dominated by colonialism, raciss been dominated by colonialism, racism, apartheid and sexism, which left very deep scars in our society. The massive divisions and inequalities left by apartheid have created a dichotomous situation of a "first world" and a "third world" within one country. As a result of this legacy, the majority of black youth have been denied opportunities to education and training, health and social welfare, economic participation, sport and recreation, arts and culture etc. They have been subjected to poverty and denied an opportunity to develop to their full potential.

The past seven years of democratic government have seen the lying of the foundations to meet the basic needs of our people, transforming the state and restructuring the economy. We have established institutions of youth development both at provincial and national level, adopted a Youth Policy and action plans, initiated the yet to be adopted national youth service white paper, with a parallel process of piloting elements thereof.

However, in the recent interviews with leading news agencies young people continue to say "nothing is being done for youth".

In order for us to fully appreciate the challenges facing the youth development sector its important to characterize the last decade of the 20th century.

The Evolution of the Youth Movement in the 90s

Early to mid 90s

The period of the early 90`s wd of the early 90`s was a period of consolidation and optimism. The youth sector was at its peak, with high levels of youth organisation. It was in this period were young people were defined as "lost generation", there were a number of initiatives aimed at either consolidating this view or countering it. The decisive intervention came from a Youth Conference that countered the notion of a lost generation, and affirmed the perspective of Integrated Youth Development.

The National Youth Development Forum (NYDF) and National Youth Co-ordinating Committee (NYDCC) were results of that initiative, and enjoyed credibility and broad support from the sector.

Most organisations were established to resist apartheid and therefore had to redefine their roles in a changing South Africa. Our strategy of mass mobilisation in the context of negotiation process was used to strengthen our position at the negotiation table.

The youth movement could therefore not clearly define its role except preoccupation with negotiations and the masses of youth were left in limbo. It was difficult to maintain/ sustain rolling mass activity.

A lot of resources were directed into the NYDF programmes as a short-term measure in dealing with the situation of youth. The first challenge was that this was outside the negotiation process and the sector had little impact on the negotiated settlement.

The youth development agenda of the NYDF was enda of the NYDF was bound to be limited, until a political settlement was found. The NYDF and NYDCC lacked sound management, weak finance systems and operated in an environment that was politically not conducive for a broad based youth development agenda.

The NYDF attempted to develop and initiate a comprehensive National Youth Service Initiative across the country, but due to due to the failure of building national consciousness on service, unclear institutional arrangements, lack of adequate resources and the political landscape this never moved beyond plans, pilots and consultations.

These subjective and objective factors eventually led to the collapse of the NYDF and NYDCC in 1995, in the process seriously denting the credibility and image of the youth sector.

The League during this period attempted at an organisational level to redefine its role in the context of transition. The challenge was therefore to the League into an organisation equal to the task of mobilising the youth behind the vision of the ANC and champion youth interests.

Institutionalising Youth Development


The period pre and post the establishment of a democratic dispensation, observed the evolution of a strategy aimed at putting youth issues on the development agenda. It took two to three years after the breakthrough of 1994 to establish Institutions of Yout Institutions of Youth Development at a national level, whilst some provinces moved faster.

Government departments were intergrated and streamlined in the first year of democracy and therefore by the time we established NYC they had already determined their priorities.

The creation of the NYC in 1996 was expected to lead to a comprehensive youth development strategy and programmes to arrest the situation of youth. For a long period the Youth Commissions (National & Provincial) were grappling with defining such a strategy, whilst a few fragmented and scattered initiatives were launched around the country.

The Youth Commissions do not have the authority or resources to initiate massive youth programmes. Its role became mainly to advise government on youth policy, co-ordinate research around youth and develop best practices (pilot projects), advocate, monitor implementation, build capacity and leverage resources.

These structural challenges has brought to the fore the question of whether a commission is a sufficient mechanism to implement youth development in SA.

The successes of the NYC include:-

  • Developing the South African Youth Policy and Action Plan that has ensured consensus within the youth sector on a framework for youth development.
  • Establishing Interdepartmental Committee on youth affairs
  • Launching pilot programmes in partnership with Public Works anp with Public Works and IDT
  • Developing a White paper on Youth Service
  • Establishing National Youth line 0800 000 001, now handling 55 000 calls a month
  • Initiating Young Positive Living Ambassadors" Programme in KZN, F/State, N/Prov and M/plng.
  • And the Young Prisoners Programme, satellite education project now covering 3 provinces

Amongst the weaknesses facing the NYC are:-

  • Lack of awareness about its role, leading to unrealistic expectations about what it is supposed to do;
  • Lack of youth engagement on a massive scale in its programmes.
  • Lack of support in particular from government departments; and
  • Lack of adequate funding and therefore insufficient capacity to carry out youth development.

For the purposes of this discussion document we will zoom ient we will zoom into the critical aspects of national youth development programme that the 21st Congress of the League should address:-

National Youth Service

The NYC has initiated the White paper on National Youth Service Programme. Parallel to this, a number of pilot programmes have been initiated, as a result of the lobbying done by the SAYC and NYC at the Presidential Job Summit. They are being piloted in three provinces, reaching up 400 young people at the moment.

A number of weaknesses have to be addressed in order to overcome this problem:-

  • There seems not to be an effective strategy on how to mainstream the youth service programme into the national development agenda: at the level of youth mobilisation and ensuring buy-in from relevant departments. The outsourcing of this initiative in the form of government tenders poses a particular challenge. The youth sector has not positioned itself to implement this important area of work. Those who are getting these tenders may not share our vision of youth development and these are not necessary youth-driven companies or with any youth stake.
  • Mobilising resources for other pilot projects: there is still no clarity as to what will happen to the Public Works Youth Service programme, after the current financial year.
  • The institutional arrangements and capacity tngements and capacity to manage such huge rollouts still needs to be tightened, as the white paper on NYSP has not yet been passed into legislation.


With the formation of the SA Youth Council in 1997 it was envisaged that through such a representative voice, we have created sufficient institutional mechanisms to confront the situation of youth. It was generally thought that with the SAYC and NYC in place, we would be able to provide sufficient capacity to co-ordinate the development and implementation of a comprehensive youth development strategy.

The SAYC was conceived to be an important ingredient to the youth development agenda, as a rallying point and the voice of youth irrespective of political affiliation.

However, the SAYC has been crippled by lack of capacity, poor leadership, no programmes, lack of resources because of the lack of confidence in the donor community in the youth sector and because of the lack of capacity within the sector and progressive youth movement in particular

Youth NGO"s" though they have declined in numbers, are issue-based raging from Aids, Culture and Arts, Science and Technology, Faith, Economic participation, Education, "Youth Service" etc. These are small attempts of addressing the situation of youth and createnew roles for these organisations. The problem with these organisations was that they are uncoordinated, fy are uncoordinated, fragmented and not able to arrest the high levels of marginalisation. It is not possible to evaluate the impact of these programmes.

Importantly, political youth organisations have failed to creatively develop programmes that would be relevant harness the energies and support of young people. The youth that remain in organisations are those who have been active in the political processes pre-1994.

Character of the youth

Young people have played a crucial role in the struggle for freedom in SA. They have been forced by apartheid brutality to take mature decisions at an early age. They were in the forward trenches and paid supreme sacrifice, including their education. They have played a crucial role in mobilising, defending and leading their communities, particularly in the 70s and 80s. They faced the apartheid brutality with dedication, commitment and service.

The concept of Youth is dynamic, it is socially defined, and a transitional stage of development from childhood to adulthood. Therefore youth characteristics/ attributes changes with the development of society. There seems to be lack of national consensus on common a definition of youth e.g. IEC defines youth as those from 18-29yrs, HSRC define 16-26yrs, Census 96 define 14-35yrs, NYC defines 14-35yrs.

Youth by their nature are energetic they are often impatient with change, if they are not consta they are not constantly engaged they find other channels of expression. Young people are a significant group in any society, they posses an invaluable potential. They are equally a mirror to society and the environment in which they are brought up shapes their outlook. If they are not properly nurtured they can easily develop progressive or retrogressive tendencies.

The last decade of the 20th century has seen young people developing their own sub-cultures, partly influenced by the globalisation of cultures and knowledge. The Afro-American culture combined with elements of Euro-centric values has shaped the outlook of South African youth. The introduction and mass exodus of black youth into "untransformed" model C schools has had an impact on the kind of youth that are produced by the system. The repeal of Group Areas act created the possibility for those who can afford it to move into historical white suburbs.

Apathy, carefree attitude, adventurism, "born free" and consumerist tendencies are said to be some of the characteristics defining young people today. In contrast, "Reality check survey" conducted in 2000 raises some interesting issues such as the fact that more than 50% of youth have seen the new constitution and that 57% of them have heard about the bill of rights.

The overwhelming majority of young people interviewed are opposed to capital punishment, support the right to choose (abortion) and more than 80n) and more than 80% are concerned about their spiritual, social and economic issues. However, less than 10% belongs to political organisation.

According to Census 96 more than 39% of South Africans are between the ages of 14-35yrs. This roughly roughly to about 16m young people. About 3.1m are unemployed and out of school and young women are the more than 51% of this group.

Of the 58% of students who passed matric this year, only 13% will be absorbed by the higher education system and almost the same number absorbed by labour markets.

Cde OR Tambo, former ANC President, once said: "a nation that does not invest in its youth does not deserve a future". We seek to highlight for all to acknowledge the immense challenges facing South Africa`s youth.

Our strategy is informed by this understanding that there can be no separation between addressing the needs of society and those of youth. Youth development should arise in the implementation of our reconstruction and development agenda.

Towards a Programmatic Response

Historically, policy makers have regarded youth as a transitional stage on the way to adulthood. Because of its transitory nature, it was not deemed necessary to design youth specific policies. The assumption was that national development strategies would automatically address the needs of young people. The few policies that did exist dealt with matters st dealt with matters of delinquency i.e. substance abuse, crime, teenage pregnancy etc.

We have established institutional mechanisms which are statutory (National/ Provincial Youth Commission) and non- statutory (South African Youth Council). We have successfully lobbied for youth participation in governance either provincial as MPL`s or National as MP`s, as well as Councilors. The first democratic government adopted a South African Youth policy, which serves as a guide on youth development priorities.

Our youth policy identifies a number of points of intervention, which can serve as benchmarks. The objectives of our youth policy needs to be understood in the context of implementing national development plans.

These are:

  • Reduce youth unemployment by providing opportunities to become involved in meaningful economic activities and be intergrated intntergrated into an overall economic strategy
  • Provide another opportunity for youth who missed out on education and training
  • Access to further and higher education
  • Provide more equitable access to health, recreational and social services
  • Rehabilitate juveniles within the context of reducing crime
  • Improve the quality of life of all young people
  • Create conditions, which will develop self-esteem and responsibility amongst youth, and empower them to play a meaningful role in society.

The main focus of the first few years of the NYC was on developing policies and programmes and implementation has been slow.

Amongst the challenges are:-

  • Lack of skills in the youth development sector: e.g. project management; weak leadership generally within the youth sector;
  • Institutional capacity to implement large scale programmes;
  • Decrease in funding patterns over the last decade
  • Negative stereotypes, ageism, bad image of the sector in relation to donors
  • Raise consciousness of youth including moral renewal
  • Clarify complimentary roles of stakeholders and reducing duplication
  • Building capacity of the sector to play a central role in Youth Development
  • Ensure common purpose and focus on the youth development priorities and approaches.

There are five areas in which we should focus in order to address these challenges. These are poverty alleviation, unemployment, skill development, Aids and Gender.

These are key tenants of a programmatic response:

Employment, Skills Development, Entrepreneurship: Over the past six years we have been engaged in a process of developing youth policy, action plans and best practices for youth development (pilot programmes). These initiatives have been small-scale lead either by NGO sector or Government. They are uncoordinated with lots of duplication without any significant impact to date.

National Youth Service: To make a dent in youth unemployment we need to mobilise all steak holders including government, private sector, civil society and youth unparticular to participate. In the evolution of a massive national youth service programme. The key objectives of NYS are skill development, utilize existing skills for the development of society, and strive for national unity and volunteering their service for the benefit of the broader community.

To achieve this we ought to accelerate the adopting of the NYS white paper, which will lay a policy framework that will also enable the establishment of an agency/ vehicle for the implementation of NYS.

In the short term we need to support and participate in the current pilot projects that are being initiated by the NYC and diffd by the NYC and different departments such as:

  • Public works: Providing access to public buildings for people with disabilities
  • Education: National Literacy Programme
  • Environment: programmes such as water and electricity audits, waste management, food production and greening of schools;
  • Health: HIV/Aids awareness, support and counseling, and promote non-discrimination and openness about Aids.
  • Infrastructure: Construction of rental stock housing and upgrading schools (rural areas).

These programmes are at different stages of their implementation, targeting Gauteng, Mpumalanga, W/Cape, N/West, KZN, N/Prov, F/State, E/Cape and N/Cape.

The success of these initiatives will largely depend on our ability to mobilise and organise youth in such a way they actively participate in their implementation.

Youth entrepreneurship: Our economic strategy needs to be integrated to that of the ANC, it must find expression in provincial and local government programmes aimed at youth. We need to develop the capacity of our cadres and structures so that they are positioned to take a lead in the acceleration youth economic participation. We need to develop focus points of information gathering, dissemination and skills database of our membership.

The development and deployment of young black entrepreneurs, cannot be left in the hands of the ft in the hands of the market, we need to champion the interest of this sector jealously. We need to lobby tender boards to make stipulations that companies must show as part of black economic empowerment how wills youth benefit from the awarding of tenders, as they are part of targeted constituencies. We must lobby the Department of Trade and Industry to start setting clear targets for the realisation of this.

Umsobomvu fund: The intention to set-up a fund was announced in 1998 from the proceeds of demutualisation, The Board was set-up in 2000 and 2 key objectives of the fund were identified as Job Creation, Skills development and transfer. The amount of 800m was set aside however given the magnitude of the task at hand a number of strategic choices have to be made.

Therefore the following should constitute the principles of the fund:

  • Targeted focus in order to achieve impact
  • Ensure wide spread geographic spread
  • It must not displace existing budgets and programmes for government departments nor must it play the role of national treasury
  • Minimal bureaucracy
  • Link with other funds and steak holders
  • Ensure financial sustainability
  • It must be a catalyst for youth development and provide a platform for economic participation

In the short term the fund should focus on building leadership and skills base of the sector ass base of the sector as part of a long-term investment. Provide once off bridging finance for this purpose. Support institutional arrangements for the evolution of a massive National Youth Service. Partner institution/s for the development of best practices for youth SMME"s. Whilst simultaneously mobilising capital and partners for Youth Entrepreneurs.

The fund could also play a key role in supporting and expanding the current Youth Line including improving the image of the sector through active marketing of its activities.

Further clarity needs to be sought regarding the life span of the fund and whether when other demutualisation takes place; funds will be directed to the fund.

HIV/AIDS and Health: Having lead a massive HIV/AIDS awareness campaign we need to look at the follow up phase that builds on this with initiatives aimed at behavioral change. We need to strengthen the South African Aids Youth Programme under the auspices of the South African National Aids Council led by the Deputy President. The department of Health has strengthened this initiative by appointing a Youth Coordinator.

Launch Beyond Awareness Campaign. Publicize the government strategy and programmes. Need to engage traditional healers as part of alternative medication, also call for a much clearer position in relation to Anti Retroviral Drugs. We must consciously organise mass demonstrations in support of the Government efff the Government effort for cheaper medicines, and not leave this in the hands of reactionary forces.

We ought to support testing so that the epidemic could be better managed; we must lead by volunteering our services for the rollout of the community based support programmes and peer counseling. We need to scientifically research messaging, target groups and their value systems. Also as part this we need to develop an understanding of behavioral patterns and how to influence.

The campaign against HIV/AIDS must be taken up alongside other programmes to ensure Health for All, including the treatment of STDs, support for TB patients, access to health and medicines for a healthy society is equally important.

Heritage, Culture, Moral renewal: The programme of nation building and patriotism will be incomplete if we do not lead a conscious programme for a cultural re cultural renaissance. Youth are being hegemonies to aspire or assert a particular value system of individualism, consumerism, materialistic etc. Which feeds to apathy, carefree attitudes, depoliticised, disoriented and therefore vulnerable to the neo liberal agenda.

This Cultural Renaissance needs to be driven by an objective of creating a South African identity. The government must invest in this project, part of its tenants could be building social consciousness, support for arts projects aimed at upholding a progressive value system i.e. deliberately finance a kwaito/house music/rap/mbaqanga group etc, to develop a song that will capture imagination around HIV/AIDS messages. Developing talents of young women and men this can be linking to NYS as a part of its benefits.

We need to lobby for a national youth monument, participate in the evolution of the national heritage sites. We need to encourage our war veterans and members to be tourist guides so that they are able to relate our history and heritage. We need to support an exchange programme by inviting our fellow countrymen to experience life in the townships and vice versa as part of nation building.

Moral regeneration is the central component of all the work we need to do in changing anti social behaviors. We need to initiate a national debate and programme around this important area. Youth Leaguers must be symbols of this new person whose value systson whose value system is beyond reproach.

Organisational tasks

  • Convene a Summit on Moral renewal
  • Develop a perspective and programme on cultural renaissance
  • Lobby for Youth Monument and other historic sites
  • Launch the Beyond Awareness Campaign
  • Advocate for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship
  • Integrate our economic strategy to that of the ANC
  • Accelerate the adoption of NYS white paper
  • Actively participate in the roll out of the current NYS initiatives
  • Set up youth service organisations and Companies
  • Develop a perspective on Youth Agency necessary for the evolution of NYS
  • Build capacity to accelerate youth development (project management, develop business plans, costing, monitoring etc)
  • Produce and strengthen leadership for the youth sector ( training LRC`s, Youth NGO`s, Youth clubs, sister organisations including YL structures)
  • Build national consciousness and awareness around NYS (in order to deal with persimism amongst youth, inculcate a new value system and build patriotism)