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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"Several hundred million peasants will rise like a mighty storm, like a hurricane, a force so swift and violent that no power, however great violent that no power, however great, will be able to hold it back. They will smash all the trammels that bind them and rush forward along the road to liberation. They will sweep all the imperialists, warlords, corrupt officials, local tyrants and evil gentry into their graves. Every revolutionary party and every revolutionary comrade will be put to the test, to be accepted or rejected as they decide. There are three alternatives. To march at their head and lead them? To trail behind them, gesticulating and criticizing? Or to stand in their way and oppose them?"

by Mao Tse Tung (1971: 24)


The discussion about rural development (RD) is a very elusive and complex one. In part this is due to the vexing nature of relations that persist, terminate, reform and emerge as the perceived unidirectional modernisation of the production process occurs. These relations have over time been influenced by two major forces in South Africa namely colonialism and apartheid. These forces radically uprooted the African peasantry from their comfort in rural areas and dragged them kicking and screaming into the urban-based bourgeois economy as labourers. They then consigned this class into 13% of the land without any support for their livelihood. The peasantry could not farm, did not have access to basic services and were repressed by a draconian "comprador" tribal system, comprador because , comprador because the tribal system was an extension of white rule and a mechanism of decimating legitimate traditional leadership. It is this situation that led to the peasant revolts at Zoutpansberg, Witzieshoek, Bafarutse, Sekhukhuneland, Thembuland and Pondoland in the 40`s until the mid 60`s (Mamdani 1996: 192). Forces of apartheid-colonialism systematically entrenched rural poverty.

It is precisely because of rural poverty that the ANC and its leagues have to address rural development. Rural poverty in South Africa presents itself in the following manner:

  • In 1995 there was 40% extreme poverty and 53% overall poverty
  • In 1997 the Adult illiteracy rate was 16% with a female illiteracy rate of 10%
  • In 1998 the 9% of the children were underweight
  • In 1997 there was 10% of people not expected to survive to the age of 15 and 40% of people not expected to survive the age of 40
  • In 1996 the income share of the poorest 20% of the population was 2.9%

These statistics underscore what the UNDP says: "While 40% of the total population is income-poor, the percentage for black South Africans is 60%. Almost three-fourths of the poor live in woefully underdeveloped rural areas. Many people lack adequate housing and access to basic social services. One by-product of the widespread impoverishment is a rising crime rate, now a major national problem. And HIV/AIDal problem. And HIV/AIDS is spreading rapidly: one in every four citizens is expected to be infected with HIV by 2010." (UNDP 2000: 29,43, 130). Much of this picture has not changed and in certain instances things have become worse.

Like Mao`s rural poor in 1927 or the South African peasantry of 1940 to 1965 if there is no major intervention that breaks the back of rural underdevelopment then there is likely to be a mass revolt in the South African rural areas. What form of intervention can be made from a YL perspective? This brief paper will attempt to address this question by first going through an analysis of the class dynamics that define the rural context, secondly evaluating the South African agrarian question, thirdly by looking at key strategies employed for dealing with rural poverty and fourthly isolating key programme areas for the ANCYL.

Understanding socio-economic dynamics

In his "foundations of Leninism" Joseph Stalin writes: "the practical conclusion that the toiling masses of the peasantry must be supported in their struggle against bondage and exploitation, in their struggle for deliverance from oppression and poverty. This does not mean, of course, that the proletariat must support every peasant movement. What we have in mind here is support for a movement or struggle of the peasantry which, directly or indirectly, facilitates the emancipation movement of the proletaria of the proletariat, which, in one way or another, brings grist to the mill of the proletariat revolution, and which helps to transform the peasantry into a reserve and ally of the working class." And later he says: "Whereas before, in the first period of the revolution, the main objective was the overthrow of tsarism, and later, after the February Revolution, the primary objective was to get out of the imperialist war by overthrowing the bourgeoisie, now, after the liquidation of the civil war and the consolidation of soviet power, questions of economic construction came to the forefront. Strengthen and develop the nationalized industry; for this purpose link industry with peasant economy through state-regulated trade; replace the surplus-appropriation system by the tax in kind so as, later on, by gradually lowering the tax in kind, to reduce matters to the exchange of products of industry for the products of peasant farming; revive trade and develop the co-operatives, drawing into them the vast masses of the peasantry" (Stalin 1976: 54, 61). Stalin here summarises the basis of a progressive perspective on rural development. The starting point for this perspective is that the peasantry as a class is defined by its preoccupation with owning property and accumulating this. This property is then used for farming and renting. It is from these activities that this class derives its income. Naturally this class, in the course of production,urse of production, differentiates into big peasantry, middle and poor peasantry. The latter usually own little or no land and largely survive through selling their labour to the big peasantry. When they till their land they use their own labour. The Middle peasantry, on the other hand, are a sub-class in transition they can hire some labour, they also till their land and in certain instances also combine their academic proficiencies in order to expand their income. They are forever seeking to accumulate more and hope to become the big peasantry. Lastly, big peasantry owns large pieces of land; hire labour from the poor peasantry to till the land and some of this land may be rented out to those who do not own it. In the South African context the big white farmer and the investor-farmer largely fit the third category and in fact are very close to the classical landlord of pre-capitalist eapitalist era. Whilst the poor peasantry`s characteristics largely fit the "rural poor" and middle-peasantry is the black farming community and small-scale farmers with "iintsimi".

The "rural poor" and the small-scale farmers have interesting features linking them. They are both blacks in race, main victims of the rural oppressive and exploitative context. Subsequent to the decimation of their productive capacity, these socio-economic groups have had to rely on urban-rural migration to mobilise resources for survival. In the main they focused on educating they children, living the wife to till the land or even a small garden in the case of the rural poor whilst the husband moves to the urban areas to sell off his labour in a modern capitalist economy. The husband forms part of the proletariat. He is also exposed to various political and economic strategies of improving his lot. It is this exposure that resulted in the wave of peasant revolts in the 40`s to the 60`s. However, the unintended consequence of this is the envy felt by other young men and women who have been exposed to school and at times just purely from admiration of the changes seen from those who were exposed to urban life. This envy results in migration to urban areas. The apartheid government had managed this process through the Group Areas Act but did not succeed as evidenced by the informal-settlements seen around the black townships. These settlements aThese settlements are sign of urban poverty as much as they are sign of rural poverty.

Van Velsen and Arizpe confirm this in (Gilbert and Gugler 1995: 69) when they say that: "The decision to migrate in turn is rarely an individual one, rather it is usually a family decision. Much rural-urban migration of individuals is part of a family strategy to ensure viability of the rural household." These movements are not necessarily a bad thing because they usually constitute part of building the local economy through mobilising urban based resources through the exchange of un- or under utilised labour. In certain instances the - Family separation frequently takes the form of circular migration. After six months of employment, a couple of years at most, the migrant returns for an extended stay with his family. In the ideal case, his return coincides with peak labour demands on the farm. In some areas, such migrants go as contract labour. They are recruited for a fixed period of time at, or close by, their home place, and provided with return transportation. Repetition of the circular movement is common, and many migrants build up extended urban experience.

Circular migration is a function of the recruitment of men at low wages. Where employees have only bachelor accommodations, both aspects "the cheap labour policy and the exclusive recruitment of men" are brought into sharp relief. Most strikingly, in environments thus charactonments thus characterised by circular migration, some employers did establish a more stable labour-force by providing conditions that encourage workers to bring their wives and children. (Gilbert and Gugler 1995: 81). In the South African context this was marked by the conversion of the hostels into family units.

It is this interconnected that Stalin hoped for in the then USSR that we see in the South African context. The urban proletariat and the rural poor form a nexus of social, political and economic relations. This phenomenon is a progressive opportunity for radicalising youth in the rural environment. It constitutes the basis for education, political education and social activities that make for radical youth sector. However, the biggest dilemma for rural youth is that when they migrate they do not find the streets of gold and the world of honey and milk they hoped for. Instead they find squalor, unemployment, poverty, disease, drugs and crime. The urban-based capitalist economy has limited demand for their labour. This is even compounded by the fact that most of them could not acquire useful skills because of apartheid marginalization. Todaro writes that: "on entering the urban labour market, many uneducated, unskilled migrants will either become totally unemployed or will seek casual and part-time employment as vendors, hawkers, repairmen, and itinerant day labourers in the urban traditional or informal sector, where emal sector, where ease of entry, small scale of operation, and relatively competitive price and wage determination prevail." (1997: 282). This sector in many instances forms part of the lowest tier of labour marked by little or no workers` rights. They are very vulnerable to vicious small-business people. At another level they constitute a sector of micro-entrepreneurs that are also very vulnerable to city by-laws against hawkers and vendors as well as competing big business.

Another reason for this migration as Harrison points out: "Income is not the only important differential. Another is the grotesque gap between city and countryside in the provision of all kinds of government services, health, sanitation, schools, electricity, and clean water. All these factors represent a kind of invisible or social income, and migrants are well aware that they improve their life chances and those of their children.

Take clean water, for example. In Africa 68 per cent of the urban population had access to a safe water supply in 1975, against only 21 per cent of the rural. The urban over rural advantage was 81 per cent to 32 per cent in the Americas and 70 per cent to 19 per cent in South and East Asia. The unfair channelling of public investment into the cities reaches scandalous proportions in most developing countries. For example, the Ivory Coast`s development plan for 1967-70 allocated 8,000 francs CFA per resident in Abidjan for rnt in Abidjan for roads, sewerage, water and electricity supply, primary schools and dispensaries. Other urban areas were allocated 6,000 francs per head. For rural areas, the allocation was only 400 francs. (1993: 146-7).

This is, to borrow from Engels, is "social murder". It is this kind of logic that informed the previous government hence the kind of backlogs found in rural areas. This is also the basis of the agrarian question.

The agrarian question - a South African challenge

The land question in South Africa has as its land marks the 1913 Land Act, which confined African to 7.3% of the land area, and the 1936 Natives Land and Trust Act, which doubled the land area. This drastically limited participation of the rural community in the economy. The strategic goal of the settler-colonial regime was exactly this. Africans now constituted the labour reserve for the white owned farms as well as the urban-based mines. This consolidated the growth of the African working class. It also resulted in the migrant labour system. In turn the migrant labour system broke-up the family unit. Women were left to hold the fort in the rural areas with the children. Inevitably the latter groups became victims of endemic poverty and as soon the boys came of age they were shipped to the mines and farms. It must be remembered that the basis of the peasant economy is largely family labour. Therefore, besiur. Therefore, besides taking the land away, the apartheid-colonial state`s offensive was on weakening the economic capacity of the African people and force them into submission to the white-owned and white-run economy.

The land question was complicated further by the pre-colonial bias of land ownership to men, which was re-enforced by the Apartheid regime. Subsequently, women are discriminated against many types of tenure arrangements. The most widely recognised form of discrimination is that practised under tribal and communal tenure. "However, there are also many ways in which imposed colonial and apartheid administrative rulings and laws discriminated against women. Furthermore, even under private tenures women are discriminated against in terms of family law and inheritance provisions." (DLA 1997: 34).

In addition to the above, even though not mentioned in land reformland reform policies, is the discrimination against youth. Young people have very limited access to land. They can`t access land for dwelling, agricultural production and for social amenities. Youth are always subjected to the control of the elderly. This discrimination on age is even because its not properly articulated in policy. The development of HIV/AIDS also complicates the youth question because those young people who are orphaned will find it difficult to access land. The consequence of this is youth migration to urban areas to seek independence both in terms of property ownership and access to the urban-based economy. This allows them to come back with some form of clout and power. The situation is even worse for young women who have to look for jobs in urban areas and at times turn to prostitution. The youth land question is interestingly the most illogical problem because access to land is denied to people who are in their most active and productive stage in life. This is an economic resource that is left untapped. This is the challenge to the land reform process.

The resolution of the South African Land question is complicated further by the following historical consequences:

  • While 50% of the population of South Africa is rural, the rural areas contain 72% of those members of the total population who are poor
  • The E.Cape has a 71% poverty rate followed by the Free Sate at 63%, andree Sate at 63%, and North West at 62%
  • In the E. Cape 78% of the children live in poor households
  • Rural people have limited access to government services and yet they are the ones most dependent on these e.g. 84% of the rural income comes from public expenditure benefits
  • The vulnerability of farm workers due to their reliance on their employers for jobs, schools, housing, electricity, medical facilities, water and transport
  • In rural areas, more than 80% of the poor households have no access to piped water or sanitation, and 74% of the rural African households need to fetch water on a daily basis
  • Most rural households use paraffin and biomass energy sources with severe social and health costs accruing to women, youth and children
  • The decline in mining has increased rural unemployment
  • 86% of the people in the informal sector are African
  • 67% of the self-employed earning less than the Supplemental Living Level (SLL) are aged 15 � 24, where the majority is young women living in rural areas
  • 70% of the people in the poorest quintile are below the age of 35

(Source: Ministerial Committee for poverty and Inequality, May 1998)

The above situation calls for an integrated multi-sectoral response to issues of rural poverty. Youth is one of the sectors most one of the sectors most hit by these hardships. The ANCYL cannot afford to let this challenge pass by.

An intervention by the ANCYL

The starting point is to acknowledge that some departments have been doing some work for youth development in rural areas for example the Department of Agriculture has a policy and programmes that target young farmers. This example is a golden opportunity for us because any intervention to be made must anchored on collective farming methods and building a strong youth farming co-operative movement. The strength of this view is that it enables a large number of young women and men to be engaged in production. Another reason for preferring this strategy is that it will potentially keep overheads very low rather than individualized farming programmes. Individualized farming also takes time to relieve the aggregate impact of poverty. It must be quickly mentioned that collective farming though cannot be super-imposed or even government regulated at best it can be facilitated through systematic and gradual engagement of rural youth. This on its own is a point of organisation. Government support must be linked to things like pricing policies and technical support whist transferring skills. An element of individualized risk taking must be built in for inculcating commitment and sustainability of these co-operatives.

Co-operatives cannot stand alone in agriculture. Theyn agriculture. They must be linked to established black and white big farmers for soliciting skills, resources and sharing markets. Youth co-ops must have a mutually beneficial or even a commensal relationship with the established farming community. On the other side they need a strong network small-scale family farms, which can constitute a large internal market for their products. These three sectors need to network and support each other for effective agricultural development to take place. This trimodal system will constitute the backbone of the rural economy. Each mode could focus on a particular type of crop, for example big farmers can focus on cash crops because they have a well-established markets globally already. Co-ops and small-scale farmers can focus on food crops which have a locally based market and thus easy to sell. A warning must urgently be sounded though that a free rein of market forces will never allow co-ops to flourish on their own because establish farmers have cornered large segments of the markets already. Therefore, a deliberate intervention by the state must take place that seeks to benefit these youth farming co-ops.

An assumption is made here that a collective farming programme will be linked to a land reform programme that targets youth as beneficiaries. Access to land remains a serious problem for young people in this country. Such access, however, needs to be predicated with a principle of land principle of land for economic activity. This is not to undermine the social requirements of land for youth. The reality though is that youth`s social needs are usually collective and therefore best addressed through integrated land use planning. This is where land will be set aside for things like sports facilities, cultural centres, nightclubs and parks. These social services are very important, however, the enormity of rural poverty underpinned by so much idle labour is mainly an economic problem.

Linked to land provision is the extension of infrastructure networks to the rural areas with a primary focus to the youth farming land. The priority services include water, sanitation, electricity, roads, rail and telephony. These services make farming very easy and modernised. This is a prerequisite if young farmers co-operatives are to succeed in competing with the rest of the world. These services are useful at improving farming techniques, transporting the product to external markets, beneficiating primary products and constantly keeping track of developments in the world agricultural market. Besides being central to the production process, infrastructure development is a creator of short-term jobs that offer some relief to households and family networks. The ANCYL is supposed to be at the forefront of organising these kinds of jobs. Such a process also leaves behind skills.

Another biggest area of intervention in rural arvention in rural areas is human resource development. The starting point is to ensure that youth have access to the education system by reducing the distance they have to travel to school every day. Government has made some strides in this regard.

However, there are still some major problems in farming communities. Children of farm workers are at the mercy of the farm owners about when to attend class. The ANCYL must mount a campaign against this. In fact there must be a lobby to for children of farm workers to attend the boarding schools used by the children of farm owners so that their learning is not disturbed.

Rural schools must have a biase to farming skills from at least Grade 8. When learners pass Grade 12 they must be a fully skilled farmer. These learners must also be afforded practical experience during vacation in the co-operative farms. Another element of HRD ment of HRD should be a targeted programme of training for the members of the co-ops. They should be trained in all facets of farming, business management and marketing.

Already government has targeted the area of skill development as a priority area; the YL must engage government on this so that there could be a percentage of skills set aside for building farming skills amongst youth. Such an intervention must be linked to the availability of services offered by farmer support centres to the youth co-ops. Additional support from the Agricultural Research Council and CSIR must be solicited. Surely, such a multi-dimensional human resource development intervention will provide adequate capacity in these co-ops.

Linked to HRD is financial support. To date institutions like Ntsika, Khula, AgriBank and Umsobomvu have not made serious mark to youth unemployment. These agencies need to be engaged and mobilised behind these programmes. Their funding conditionalities need fundamental reviewal with respect to youth. They must have a clear biase to youth farming co-ops. The view of the YL should also be that they should not just fund these co-ops but must offer financial management support. This is very important considering the history of youth development projects whose funds have been mismanaged and misappropriated. Youth development urgently requires showcase success stories so as to build confidence of the sponsors.

f the sponsors.

Policy process and institutional arrangements

Operational management of this programme requires a policy intervention at the level of the National Youth Policy 2000. This policy has glaring weakness with respect to rural development. This calls for a YL led policy intervention done through the NYC. Linked to the change of policy is a design process of the Integrated Rural Youth Development Strategy, which will be based on the current thinking in government about rural development. The ANCYL must mobilise the ANC NEC behind such a strategy. Beyond this then Cdes deployed in the SAYC, NYC and parliament must facilitate the institutionalisation of this strategy. On the other hand the YL must rally all its branches and deployees behind the strategy who in turn must lobby for resources in the various Councils, Provincial Governments and National departments.

Once there is sufficient support and organisation behind the programme then there must pilot programmes preferably in the poorest villages. Such pilots must be steered by the organisation through a proposed policy and programmes unit, which will be an extended policy unit. This unit will not only focus on policy analysis but also designing pilot programmes in order to showcase them to government for their replication and expansion. Such a unit must be actively engage Donors for supporting this work. The unit must also be unit must also be actively involved in networking these programmes with the relevant support agencies.

Conclusion: A challenge to the ANCYL

The thrust of this document is that rural poverty in South Africa continues to be the biggest threat to national democracy and the biggest challenge to transformation. Youth are amongst the hardest heat sections of the community. They then resort to crime and prostitution. Such survivalist strategies expose them even to worse danger. The ANCYL cannot sit on an armchair and analyse this poverty but must roll up its sleeves and be central in offering practical solutions to change the lives of rural youth. Above a framework for intervention has been presented. This framework must be enriched and used for designing a more comprehensive programme. The League must offer strategic guidance on this question urgently.

Such is the challenge of the ANCYL.