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Organisational Growth, Development and Renewal towards Economic Freedom in our Lifetime: - Back to basics

August 2010

  1. The African National Congress will be celebrating its 100 years of existence in 2012. The ANC’s 100 years of existence is a celebration of a dynamic organisational growth, development and renewal which was neither homogeneous, nor constant in political strategies and ideological stances that were taken to adapt to evolving history. The durability and sustenance of the ANC happened because it was able to re-adjust and adapt to various objective and subjective conditions in its historical development and growth. The role of the ANC YL, which was launched 32 years after the launch of the ANC is undeniably profound and contributed too many features that define the ANC to this day. Organisational renewal, growth and development of the ANC Youth League should therefore be understood within the character and politics of the ANC because the ANC Youth League is a political wing of the ANC.
  2. The role of the ANC Youth League in the ANC’s development, renewal and growth is most certainly profound. At its formation in 1944, the ANC Youth League was not only positioned to mobilise young people behind the vision of the ANC, and championing their interests, the Congress Youth League (earlier reference to the ANC YL) was rather positioned as a formation determined to give new impetus, radicalise and energise the African National Congress into a fighting force for people’s liberation. The ANC Youth League’s relationship to the ANC is historically more of a political relationship than a paternal/maternal relationship, more often defined by clearly defined political programmes and strategies which sought to give the ANC new energy. The League was never a junior congress, but a political youth wing of the ANC, with profound influence on its direction.  
  3. The ANC Youth League’s 1944 Manifesto and 1948 Programme of Action went a long way in re-shaping and revolutionising the political, organisational and ideological character of the ANC. Only five years after its formation, the ANC Youth League was able to influence and change the ANC into a fighting liberation movement with clearly defined ideology, strategies and methods of engagement. This happened against massive opposition from the ANC leadership, which sometimes believed that the rise of youth militancy would compromise the earlier character of the ANC of peaceful resistance, deputations and petitions with the hope that the colonial masters will show goodwill and allow rights and freedoms to civilised black people.
  4. It is against this background that this perspective explains, discusses and develops concrete positions on the following aspects of organisational growth, development and renewal:
    1. Character of the ANC Youth League and relationship to the ANC
    2. Autonomy of the ANC Youth League
    3. Organisational Democracy
    4. Organisational discipline
    5. Organisational development and growth
    6. Political education
    7. Political programme of the ANC Youth League:
  5. It is important to make precise political reflections on organisational renewal in order to politically, organisationally and ideologically prepare the ANC Youth League for the revolutionary political programme it will pursue in the present conjecture and times ahead. This generation of young activists have defined the political programme as that of ‘Youth Action for Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime’. The struggles for attainment of economic freedom in our lifetime is not empty rhetoric, but a political programme that requires resolute, very firm and decisive individual and collective efforts of all ANC YL members and structures. Organisational renewal should therefore be understood within a political programme of economic freedom in our lifetime.


  1. The History of the African National Congress Youth League is undeniably a revolutionalising history of South Africa. The young and dedicated activists who gathered at the Bantu Men's Social Centre on the 10th of September 1944 to launch the ANC Youth League subsequently became the true and dedicated revolutionaries who altogether changed South Africa's political atmosphere. When the founding generation of the ANC YL proclaimed FREEDOM IN OUR LIFETIME in 1944, few people had the hope that there was a possibility that ultimately, black people and women in South Africa will gain the freedom, rights and independence to choose a government of their own and collectively define their political, social and economic destiny. The formation of the ANC YL radically reshaped the methods of struggle against oppression and gave new energy to the entire ANC led National Liberation Movement.
  2. The ANC YL was formed to supplement, consolidate and give new impetus to the struggle against racial oppression as championed by the ANC. Although presented as a means to mobilise young people behind the vision of the          ANC and mobilising their interests, the formation of the ANC Youth League was more about a concrete political intention and programme to radicalise the ANC within its original objectives of uniting the black majority and Africans in particular. Somewhat, the ANC Youth League’s political strategies and tactics towards the ANC were entryist due to the reality that in character, the ANC has accepted pacifist methods of mobilisation without offending the illegitimate colonial government, which excluded the black majority. At the outset, the ANC Youth League acted not as a subordinate of, but as a body of opinion in the ANC, and this feature was elementary to its success in reshaping the character of the ANC.
  3. Within the first five years of its formation, the ANC Youth League was able to decisively influence the ANC to adopt a more radical, forthright and confrontational political programme which fundamentally transformed the ANC into a mass mobilisation movement and campaigner against racial segregation and economic subjugation. This happened against a backdrop of serious political and ideological resistance from within the leadership of the ANC. Almost the entire leadership of the ANC was convinced that ANC YL sponsored radical decisions and steps in changing the character of the ANC will lead to its downfall. The extent of resistance to the political programme was not insignificant because the then (1940s) incumbent ANC President General A.B. Xuma and Secretary General James Calata, both of whom had played a critical role in the renewal of the ANC after what was understood as ANC organisational decay under President Pixley ka Isaka Seme; did not agree with the ANC YL propositions for radical political renewal and action.
  4. Former ANC Youth League Secretary General, Comrade Duma Nokwe who was elected ANC Secretary General when he concluded his term as ANC YL SG at the age of 31 made this observation in a 1946 perspective titled “Problems facing the youth movement”. In that perspective, Comrade Duma Nokwe says, “From 1944 to 1949, the Youth League concentrated on working out African Nationalism, criticising the old methods of struggle of deputations and resolutions to the Government, and tried to impose a militant outlook. This culminated in the adoption of the Programme of Action at the Annual Conference of the A.N.C. in 1949”. He further acknowledges that, “The ANCYL played an important part in the adoption of that programme of action. The salient features of the programme were mass political actions, in the form of boycott, national days of protest, and civil disobedience”.
  5. The transformative 1949 ANC Conference had to elect a relatively inexperienced and young leadership of President James Moroka (who had just joined the ANC) and Secretary General Walter Sisulu (aged 37) because the older and more organisationally experienced generation was unable to adjust and adapt to the new strategies and tactics proposed by the Youth League to fight racial oppression and segregation. The 1949 Programme of Action led to the Defiance Campaign, which goes into history as one of the most successful campaigns to be led by the African National Congress. Recalling the fruits of the Defiance Campaign, E.S. Reddy says, “the Campaign generated a mass upsurge for freedom. The membership of the A.N.C. increased from 7,000 to 100,000 during the campaign and it became a truly national organization of the people. The Campaign also led to the formation of the Coloured People's Congress and the Congress of (white) Democrats, and then a "Congress Alliance" which played a crucial role in promoting multi-racial resistance to apartheid in subsequent years”.
  6. If the reading of history was mechanical, it could be simplistically deducted that the transformation of the ANC into a truly national organisation of the people, and the formation of the alliance are direct consequences of the formation of the ANC Youth League in 1944. Yet history evolves in far much complex and systematic realities than that, because the combination of prevailing material conditions of that period and the subjective determination of the founding leadership of the ANC Youth League dialectically called for decisive action and defined history. Certainly, the passage of time spelled a different trajectory with regards to how the Youth League relates to the African National Congress, yet notably the ANC Youth League’s founding generation’s commitment to “freedom in our lifetime” took practical shape and was led by that particular generation.
  7. The overall assessment and understanding of the character of the ANC Youth League and its relationship to the ANC is that it has been more of a political than a maternal/paternal relationship. The notion of being a preparatory school of the ANC is out of this analysis of history a by-product notion because the young founding generation of the ANC Youth League did not just see themselves as leaders of the revolution in the distant future, but as agents of change in the present, willing to make all the sacrifices for a progressive revolutionary political programme. The best preparatory programme in anyway happens within a robust political programme and actions, not through blind observation of older leaders and what they did.


  1. The Constitution of the ANC Youth League says “The ANCYL shall function as an autonomous body within the overall structure of the ANC of which it shall be an integral part. It shall be based on the political and ideological objectives of the ANC”. The ANC Constitution says, “The Youth League will function as an autonomous body within the overall structure of the ANC, of which it will be an integral part, with its own Constitution, rules and regulations, provided that these shall not be in conflict with the Constitution and policies of the ANC”.
  2. The Constitutions of both the ANC and ANC YL are recited as a form of giving a sense of the autonomous, but not independent relationship between the ANC YL and ANC, yet the relationship is in no way a mere Constitutional relationship. The autonomy of the ANC Youth League is a vital political relationship, which can never be reduced to a Constitutional relationship and sacrificed in the course of the revolution. Autonomy of the ANC Youth League is not a by the way issue, but a revolutionary organisational practice which if ignored, could undermine the impetus and energy that young people should impact in any radical political, economic and social change of society.
  3. The autonomy of the ANC Youth League and generally young people in all revolutions is elementary to a revolution’s progress and success. Revolutions are by their very nature activities of young people, and marginalising young people merely into a preparatory arrangement within revolutionary movements stifles the political and ideological development of such movements. History proves that almost all if not all national liberation and revolutionary movements that do not have autonomous youth formations degenerate into insignificance with the passage of time. So reducing autonomy into a constitutional matter without politics is a political blunder with massive consequences. That is why the autonomy of the ANC YL to formulate novel ideological and political tactics within a broader strategic vision should forever be protected. Autonomy of the Youth League should not just be reduced to organisational autonomy of organising own meetings, but not taking own decisions. It should fundamentally mean the right of the Youth League to formulate independent political, ideological and strategic perspectives in the cause of struggle and independent capacity and ability to robustly advocate for such perspectives.
  4. Addressing this question, the early 1990s ANC Youth League Provisional National Committee said in a perspective that was subsequently adopted by the KwaNdebele re-launching congress in 1991 that, “The youth can only effectively participate in the liberation of our country and get involved in the building of a democratic South Africa on the basis of the totality of knowledge and experience handed over to it by older generations.  At the same time young people should not be encouraged merely to copy or assimilate what is handed over to them.  They should do that through an investigative and critical approach. Real education in struggle on the part of the youth cannot be separated from their independent political involvement.  A profound appreciation by the youth of the democratic ideals we are fighting for is better consolidated if verified by their independent experience in struggle.  Autonomy of the League offers the opportunity for the realization of the boundless resources of energy, enterprise, initiative and free application of the creative potential of our youth”.
  5. This observation is so profound and should, as the May 2010 National Executive Committee of the ANC Youth League resolved, be disseminated and taught to all leaders of the ANC. Education around autonomy of the ANC Youth League should be programmatically intensified so that all activists and leaders of the ANC internalise this principle, not for the sake of it, but for the durability of the revolution and its ideals. 
  6. Those who argued for the formation of the ANC Youth League in the early 1940s, notably former ANC President Joshua T. Gumede, argued that the YOUTH LEAGUE had to be formed because that was the only way to make the ANC live forever. By its very nature the ANC Youth League has to be youthful, re-energize and radicalize the ANC and those who are opposed to its ideals should never be tempted to liquidate the ANC Youth League, nor destroy its leadership. The ANC Youth League is an integral part of the ANC, but an autonomous organisation. It does many things, some of which will not be comfortable with the older generation.
  7. Many generations before this generation defended the autonomy of the ANC Youth League and this generation owes it upon these generations to protect and defend the autonomy of the ANC Youth League. This generation of Youth League owe it upon the generations of Walter Sisulu and subsequently Peter Mokaba to defend the autonomy of the ANC YOUTH LEAGUE. A possible respond to the 1940s ANC Youth League call for defiance of the apartheid system could have been disciplinary action against the Youth League leadership, but its autonomy allowed space for measured discussion which took the ANC forward. When former Presidents Robert Resha and Nelson Mandela called for armed struggle, it was not policy of the ANC, yet they were allowed space to raise why the ANC had to take armed struggle. In all efforts to defend the autonomy, it should be understood that autonomy of the ANC YL is a political matter.


  1. Organisational democracy is fundamentally the culture of broader and equal participation in organisational decision making process. This includes equal rights for all members to elect and be elected in all structures of the organisation. This democracy further includes the rights and obligations as provided for in the Constitution of the ANC YL. In the Congress movement, the organisational democracy is understood within the following principles, contained in a 1997 discussion perspective of the ANC on Organisational Democracy and Discipline:
    1. Elected Leadership
    2. Collective Leadership
    3. Consultation
    4. Powers of National Congress
    5. Mandates, Accountability and Reporting
    6. Criticism and Self Criticism
    7. Democratic Centralism
  2. It is important to highlight that this perspective on organisational renewal is going back to basics to re-assert the principles of organisational democracy because of the challenges the ANC Youth League is facing. The autonomy expatiated above should be exercised within these principles of organisational democracy.
  3. Elected leadership refers to the principle and practice that says, Leadership of the ANC Youth League is elected at all levels, and re-elections are held at regular intervals. Within this principle, an emphasis should constantly be made that no single individual must become irreplaceable. In addition, elected leadership can be recalled before the end of their term of office if they are not disciplined. Members, according to the constitution, have a right to take part in elections and be elected to any committee, structure, commission or delegation of the ANC League.
  4. Collective leadership refers to the principle that ANC YL has leadership collectives, instead of a single leader, at all levels of organisation - BECs, PECS, the NWC and the NEC. The constitution sets out the powers of each of these structures and they are expected to operate as a collective. This means that there must be continuous and ongoing consultations on matters affecting the ANC YL. In addition, it means that all members must take responsibility to explain and ensure the implementation of decisions taken by these collectives. Collective leadership also means that leadership skills, experience and knowledge must be shared.
  5. Consultation refers to the reality that the structures of the ANC Youth League are set up in such a way that it allows for meetings at regular intervals. The ANC branch is the basic unit of the organisation and membership participate through monthly meetings and branch Annual General Meetings (AGMs). Furthermore, branches are represented at other structures of decision-making such as regional and Provincial Councils and Conference and, finally, at the highest decision-making body of higher structures through a system of ex-officio representation at all levels of the ANC YL. For example, all provinces and Leagues have representation on the NEC.
  6. Consultation is not an end in itself. We have consultations to ensure that there is popular support in the ANC YL for certain decisions and policies and are able to explain them to others and to the public in general. Consultation is also part of ensuring that as a liberation movement we remain true to our calling that our people should shape their own destiny, and that the ANC YL is the correct vehicle through which to do this.
  7. Powers of National Congress means that the National Congress of the ANC YL is the highest decision-making body of our unitary organisation and can ratify or change any decision or policy adopted by structures at other levels. National Congress consists of mandated individuals from all constitutional structures of the movement at all levels of organisation. That is why we have discussion papers before Congress, general meeting, PGCs and other forums to discuss issues and to elect our delegates to Congress.
  8. Mandates, Accountability, Reporting speaks to the reality that in the context of the above, our organisational structures should provide elected members with mandates to guide them when they represent us in various structures of the ANC YL and elsewhere. When we elect Youth Development Officers, MPLs, MPs or councillors, we should have policies and broad strategies for how we want to transform a particular sector, and the role our cadres should play and combine towards this process.
  9. This is not say that we do not encourage individuals deployed to express their views, nor that those elected to leadership position. All members of our organisation are expected to think for themselves, to be able to raise and debate their ideas at any time, and to be able to take initiative to further the goal of our struggle. We expect leadership to lead our movement, ensuring that we respond to challenges and that we implement our programmes. However, when there is a need to change in strategy or policy, we expect leadership and elected representatives to consult and get fresh mandated on the new direction.
  10. Criticism and Self-Criticism refers to the fact that ANC YL does not believe that any of our members are beyond criticism. Our movement and our strategies are also not beyond criticism. This means have regular evaluations, questions must be asked and constructive criticism encouraged. We must also have a cadreship and leadership who are humble and prepared to listen to constructive criticism. Part of being a cadre also means an ongoing process of self -criticism, evaluation, learning improving our strategies, tactics and policies as a movement.
  11. Most of us would broadly accept the above. However, the challenge is to integrate this understanding into the work of our constitutional structures. For example, should the NEC, PECs, RECs have, at least once a year, a session built into their regular constitutional meetings to assess themselves as leadership collectives and the strengths and weaknesses of individual cadres who serve on these collectives?
  12. Democratic Centralism is derived out of the fact that the ANC YL is a unitary and national organisation. Its operations are guided by the principles of democratic centralism which includes the following:
  13. Decision of the majority prevail
  14. After debate and discussion on a particular issue in the correct structures, a decision is taken which is binding on all members of the ANC. Even if an individual has motivated or voted for a different position, that individual will have a responsibility to implement and defend the decision that has been taken. This approach presents a number of difficulties. One of the central problems with this approach is the following question:
  15. Decisions of higher structures bind lower structures.
  16. As a unitary organisation, this principle applies. Because of this there is the provision for ex-officio representation of lower structures in all higher structures in all higher structures of the ANC. The NEC is the highest decision-making structure between national conferences and therefore has the overall responsibility of ensuring that conference resolutions are implemented, that the constitution is upheld, that it leads lower structures and maintains the character, discipline and unity of the ANC YL and that national interests are balanced with sectoral and geographical consideration and interests.
  17. Responsibility of leadership and cadres
  18. The nature and character of the ANC YL means that cadres and leaders must take their responsibilities and rights seriously. For example, leadership collectives at all levels often have to take decisions in the interest of the movement which may be unpopular. A leader who is part of such a collective has the responsibility to understand the motivations for such decision and explain it to the membership and the public in general.
  19. This also means that leadership collectives must be in touch with popular sentiment in our structures as well as with public opinion. In this way, when decisions are taken, the movement can take along its support base and not make errors of judgement which may backfire.
  20. Cadreship must display strength of their convictions to raise matters and problems in forums where they have the opportunity to do so, even if this may risk individual promotion. The interest of the organisation must be placed above self-interest. Leadership, on the other hand, must ensure that there is a climate that allows for the open debate and raising issues and deal with victimisation should this arise. The responsibility for the democratic character of the ANC is the responsibility of both leaders and cadres.
  21. Our cadreship and our leadership must strive for personal attributes such as commitment, dedication, loyalty, respect for others, modesty, incorruptibility and critical, independent thinking. Overall, the membership of the ANC Youth League should be schooled in these principles and forever be expected to live through them.
  22. The ANC Youth League should constitutionalise principles of organisational, more especially the essence of the ANC Youth League as a unitary organisation. This will go a long way in guaranteeing the sanctity of the ANC Youth League being unitary organisation, which adheres to principles of organisational democracy. As much as rights and obligations of members are constitutional, the principles of organisational democracy should also be included in the constitution of the ANC Youth League.


  1. The most outstanding acknowledgment in the ANC and entire national liberation movement is an observation that “Discipline is a weapon of struggle and transformation. It does not exist for its own sake, but to safeguard the unity of the movement, ensure that it is able to fulfil its historic mission and achieve its objectives”. This is so profound and goes to the heart of our organisational values and principles, because all our objectives and political programme can be undermined if we are not ready to exercise maximum discipline.
  2. As a political matter and again going back to basics, discipline entails that all members are able to adhere to the principles of organisational democracy and adhere to all the Constitutional obligations outlined in the ANC YL Constitution. All ANCYL members are obliged to:
    1. pledge their unswerving loyalty to the ANCYL and place themselves under its overall discipline;
    2. carry out decisions, duties and directives with diligence;
    3. organise, participate and contribute positively to all ANCYL activities and to contribute to the strengthening of its organic unity;
    4. rally all youth to support and unite behind the ANCYL and actively participate in the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist. democratic and prosperous South Africa;
    5. protect the ANCYL and its property at all times by exercising maximum vigilance;
    6. exercise discipline and exemplary behaviour at all times and maintain harmonious relations with all members of the ANCYL and the community in general;
    7. combat all forms of tribalism, regionalism, nepotism, and other forms of discrimination based on race and sex as well as combating factionalism and malicious gossip within our ranks;
    8. initiate and participate in activities aimed at promoting international solidarity, peace and social Justice;
    9. Every member of the ANC Youth League above the age of 18 shall be obliged to join the ANC.
  3. These principles and obligations have got to be re-emphasised because members tend to take them for granted and treat organisational process and protocol as something that is a side issue. At all times, members should be guided to respect and abide by these obligations.
  4. As a broad principle, organisational discipline means that members of the organisation should not engage themselves in divisive and factional activities. This should not be misunderstood as meaning that members should not canvass and lobby each other of political, ideological and leadership matters of the organisation. Members should appreciate that once decisions are taken and once leadership is elected, lobby groups become factions, which do not have interests of the organisation.
  5. The matter of factionalism should be addressed because lobby groups in the organisation are getting institutionalised with various names, budgets, paraphernalia, coordinators, Lawyers and meeting venues. In most instances, the budgets for factional purposes and activities exceed the budgets for normal organisational work. It is conspicuously very difficult to draw a thick line between a lobby group and a faction, but at organisational management level, certain issues should be guided so that they do not seem like acceptable practices in the movement. This includes a complete illegalisation of factional materials and paraphernalia being used in organisational meetings. It should be punishable for members to wear or display factional materials such as t-shirts, caps, posters in organisational meetings at all levels.
  6. These kinds of factional offences should be dealt with a standard way across all branches, regions and provinces of the ANC Youth League. The National Executive Committee should issue out guidelines, including a minimum sentence of how branches should administer disciplinary process of members who wear and/or display factional materials and paraphernalia in organisational gatherings. This approach is necessary and avoids a situation where one member would be given a harsher sentence, whilst the other gets a lighter sentence for similar offences.
  7. As a matter of administering justice, the ANC Youth League should effect necessary Constitutional amendments to pre-condition automatic expulsion for all members of the organisation who take the organisation to Court for internal organisational matters and commit other offences such as attending meetings of the organisation under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This should be effected because allowing internal organisational matters to be adjudicated by Courts will degenerate the organisation into total insignificance, where it will only those who have access to legal support who will impose Court decisions in the organisation. The Constitutional amendment should classify actions that require automatic dismissals.   
  8. The National Executive Committee should as empowered by Article L of the ANC Youth League Constitution, should make the necessary amendments to the Rules of Disciplinary Procedure to ensure that they are beyond doubt aligned to the Constitution and gives powers for automatic expulsion for some of the offences. The amendments should also empower the National Executive Committee to establish an appellate structure from within the NEC to avoid a situation where Congresses of the ANC Youth League will deal with appeals of disciplinary actions.   


  1. In the present conjuncture, both qualitative and quantitative organisational growth and development is elementary and should never be discounted. The founding generation of the ANC YL maintained and sustained a relatively smaller organisation of intellectuals with profound capability to influence the African National Congress. The conjecture we are living in requires both quality and quantity because our noble ideals should be translated in actual numbers with regards to support for our programmes and ultimately electoral support for the ANC as a political party in a multi-party democracy.
  2. Most branches of the ANC Youth League tend to gate keep membership and recruit only up to 100 members or a little bit above that. They do so because they want to avoid situation where they will not reach quorums for Constitutional Branch and Annual General Meetings of the ANC Youth League. There should be a way to alter this phenomenon because many young people want to join the ANC YL, but cannot because they are kept outside for quorum purposes by branches. 
  3. As an immediate solution to this problem, perhaps the 24th National Congress should amend the Constitution to say that quorum for all Constitutional meetings will be 50 members plus 1, even for branches that have members above 100. This would encourage branches to recruit hundreds of members into the organisation and broadly prepare them for membership of the ANC and loyalty into the movement. This would also avoid the question of gate keeping for purposes of reaching a quorum. Alternatively, the minimum number of members per branch can be increased to 200, with a quorum of 100 plus 1 member.  
  4. These are some of the considerations that should be made as a way of setting the stage for the quantitative expansion of the organisation. It should be emphasised that the matter of proposing quorum to be 50 members plus 1, even in circumstances where membership of a branch is above 100 is not to shy away from the legitimate role that branches should do in mobilising members to meetings. It is an appreciation that by their very nature, young people are not static and they frequently engage in many other educational and social activities that require them to relocate or utilise their spare time for various other engagements.
  5. Broadly, the ANC Youth League should never compromise quality over quantity and should vice versa. Whilst engaging in productive intellectual discussions that seek to influence society, the Youth League should never loose its capacity to mobilise society, and mass mobilisation should not undermine efforts to produce new coherent ideas. These ideas should never be about who should be deployed or lead structures, but should forever be located within a political programme. With the Youth League political programme being that of economic freedom in our lifetime, whatever the organisation does should be aligned to this programme.
  6. As part of expanding the kind of membership the ANC Youth League recruits in society, there should be a consideration of allowing membership application through the Internet. If such is agreed upon, potential members could be allowed to apply for membership through the internet and only get admitted as members after they have been referred to their Branches for formal acceptance and payment of membership fees in person.
  7. The ANC Youth League should broaden its focus on various sections of young people who could participate in the organisation. This should expand to active mobilisation of religious youth and creation of a religious youth desk, which will mobilise and coordinate all religious youth. In a similar manner that the Youth League organises the Young Women’s Assembly, there should be efforts to organise religious assemblies for young people in order to enhance and harness the organisation’s appeal to religious youth in all our structures.
  8. The ANC Youth League should develop practical efforts to mobilise young workers, particularly casualised workers working in the various industries. Most young workers are hired through labour brokers and spread across restaurants, hotels, chain stores, airports, construction companies, security companies and many other sectors as casualised labourers. The ANC Youth League should develop a focused programme which mobilises these young people and raise their concerns in a more effective way. There is completely nothing wrong with the ANC Youth League organising targeted sectors, particularly of vulnerable youth because they are in most instances voiceless, even the existing Trade Unions do not speak on behalf of these workers.
  9. As a matter of expanding the appeal of the ANC Youth League and as a way of responding to the reality that South African citizens outside South Africa are eligible to vote, the ANC Youth League should begin to mobilise young people outside South Africa. As a matter of principle, membership of the ANC YL should be open to all South Africans inside and outside the country, including those that have converted residences. With regards to young South Africans outside the country for whatever legitimate reason, the ANC YL National Executive Committee should develop concrete guidelines on how branches outside South Africa borders should be constituted. This will require a Constitutional amendment in order to give effect to ANC YL branches outside South Africa.
  10. Another important component of mobilising youth should be what most ANC Youth League structures did during the 2009 General elections. In the elections, new methods of mobilisation were adopted, such as Rides and Braai, Bikers, Mini Coopers, Chill Sessions, etc. Most of these activities were complimented by attendant trendy paraphernalia with organisational branding. This kind of mobilisation should not only happen during elections, but should be adopted for ANC Youth League rallies and other activities. This keeps the ANC YL in constant touch with young people across all spectra.
  11. The ANC Youth League should also infiltrate and effectively utilise the new platforms of communication and interaction in society, the social networks such as facebook, twitter, mixit, etc. These platforms are at times utilised to undermine organisational principles and processes, yet the ANC Youth League should in a regulated manner utilise social interaction platforms to spread its messages and information. These are new platforms and forms of communication in as much as websites and email were when they begun.
  12. Another critical component or organisational management that requires revision is the whole question of expanding and clearly defining the roles of sub-regions ad zones. With the approval of Zones and sub-regions as per the 2008 Constitutional amendments, the ANC Youth League should consider granting RECs more responsibilities and status within organisational gatherings. This would additionally entail granting regional Chairpersons and Secretaries full ex-officio status and voting rights in National Congresses and extending full ex-officio status and voting rights to regional top five officials in all Provincial Congresses. This should be expanded and resolved in clear guidelines.
  13. Previous Congresses of the ANC Youth League have adequately dealt with the question of multi-capping in the organisation through constitutionally forbidding members to hold more than one position in the organisation. This was constitutionally captured in the Constitutional clause that says when elected to an upper structure; those serving in lower structures should automatically resign their positions the lower structures.  This principle should be developed to say that those serving in upper structures should automatically resign their position once they accept nomination for election into lower structures. This will avoid members of upper structures contesting leadership in lower structures with guarantees that they will be retained in the upper structures, which amongst other things carry the responsibility of overseeing the political and organisational work of lower structures.
  14. The principles advocated for in the paragraph above should be advocated for in the African National Congress to ensure that ANC leaders are not conflicted in the roles they play within structures of the organisation. Another leadership principle that the ANC Youth League should constitutionalise is that of automatic resignation from ANC Youth League structure if an executive committee member of the Youth League is elected as an official in the ANC structure on the same level. This means that a BEC member elected into the top five of the BEC of the ANC should resign their position in the Youth League if they are also in the BEC of the Youth League. This will assist the ANC to constructively relate to the ANC Youth League, but also allow space for leadership progression within the organisation.
  15. There are Constitutional matters which National General Council should deal with and clarify, and as a matter of guiding Council, these are the some of the issues:
    1. Automatic expulsion of all members who take the organisation to Court.
    2. Automatic expulsion for certain types of offences.
    3. Quorum for Annual and Branch General Meetings.
    4. Dissolution and Disbandment of structures.
    5. Sub-regional and Zonal structures.
    6. The roles of Regional Executive Committees and their status in Provincial and National Congresses.
    7. ANC Youth League branches outside the borders of South Africa.


  1. Political Education is the lifeblood of the organisation and should forever constitute the day to day activities of the ANC Youth League. It is an objective reality that any revolution that does not reproduce its ideas is bound to fail. All ANC Youth League structures should standardise political education into their mainstream programmes and constantly ensure that all members have a proper grasp of the politics of the African National Congress.
  2. Branches of the ANC Youth league should forever learn and teach themselves about the politics of the ANC Youth League, the ANC and the alliance. Even in instances where there are limited resources, branches should convene to discuss the Constitution of the ANC Youth League and share amongst members, their interpretation of ANC YL Constitution.  
  3. Political education for members should not be limited to organisational theory only, there should begin to be sessions on soft skills and other empowerment educational content that is given to members. Members should be given information and education on how to apply for jobs and how to speak in public, make presentations and various other important components which will contribute to personal developments. ANC Youth League regions and branches should organise Career development programmes to guide members on career options and various other opportunities offered by the State, private sector and civil society.
  4. The National Executive Committee should intensify education on organisational management for provincial and regional leadership to increase their understanding of all organisational management matters. This programme should necessarily include education on issues relating to membership filing, audit, induction of members, and organising. This is very important because matters of organisational management should not be faltered, particularly that our recent past history has demonstrated that organisational mismanagement has potential to disrupt political work in regions and provinces. 


  1. Organisational renewal, growth and development should forever be understood with a clearly defined political programme. The emphasis on organisation democracy and discipline is not the ultimate end, but methods and amour that should guide and help the ANC Youth to attain its objectives. The ANC Youth League’s 1948 Basic Policy Document made a clarion call that, “political democracy remains an empty form without substance unless it is properly grounded on a base of economic and, especially, industrial democracy”.
  2. The political programme of the ANC Youth League towards the centenary of the ANC is summed up as that of attainment of “ECONOMIC FREEDOM IN OUR LIFETIME”. This simply means that all the economic clauses of the Freedom Charter should be given practical meaning and implemented in our lifetime. The people sharing in the country’s wealth should not just be a clarion call, but should be turned into a concrete programme, which includes Nationalisation of Mines, banks and monopoly industries. Perspectives in that regard are developed.
  3. This generation of the ANC Youth League carries a responsibility to defend the freedom charter and ensure that all its aims and objectives are realised and implemented. Efforts to undermine the meaning of the freedom charter should be isolated from the ANC, and should not even be supported for leadership responsibilities from within the organisation. This is a matter the ANC Youth League should not be ashamed of because reality is that the ANC requires determined and ideologically clear adherents and proponents of the Freedom Charter to take us forward. Those who continue to account to imperialist forces should be isolated from the organisation because they have potential to undermine our future.
  4. What members should appreciate is that all the issues we are raising on economic freedom in our lifetime are elementary to the success of the revolution and continued support for the ANC. This programme constitutes our future and we should do everything to defend the principles because this generation will inherit the ANC which cannot blame past injustices for massive inequalities and suffering of our people. Our generation will have to take full responsibility on why young people do not have jobs and why there are no proper houses for all our people.
  5. So in summary, attainment of economic freedom in our lifetime means that we should do everything we can to make sure that the ANC government utilises the mandate of the people to realise all the economic clauses of the Freedom Charter.


  1. Organisational renewal, democracy and discipline should forever be understood within a political programme and not depoliticised into a programme of building strong braches without a concrete political direction and programme. The ANC Youth League’s founding generation possessed adequate and decisive clarity on what the political and ideological direction of the ANC should be, yet had limitations with regards to organisational structures on the ground. Their massive influence was amongst others grounded a proper comprehension of the politics of liberation and adaptation to evolving history.
  2. The most important component about the founding generation of the ANC YL was that they did not treat themselves as a junior league or pre-school arrangement of the ANC. The founding generation appreciated that as young people, they had a critical role to play in the ANC and were therefore a decisive critical body of opinion in the African National Congress. Such characterisation and understanding of the ANC Youth League gave it the massive influence it had on the direction of the ANC and reshaping of South Africa’s history.
  3. The current generation of the ANC Youth League has to carry on with the struggle of realising the entirety of Freedom Charter objectives. The most important weapons for such a struggle is ideological/political clarity and the ability to marshal a quantitatively and qualitatively expanded organisation. This should be characterised by a thorough comprehension and adherence to principles of organisational democracy and discipline. The tasks ahead of this generation are not insignificant and deeper understanding of the character of the African National Congress is important.