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ANC Youth League President`s address to the WFYS IOC Meeting in Tshwane

15 October 2010

Leadership of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, in particular President Tiego Viera and Secretary General Jesus de Mora.
Members of the International Organising Committee from all across the world.
Members of the National Preparatory Committee, who have thus far worked tirelessly to ensure that South Africa hosts a successful 17th World Festival of Youth and Students in December 2010.
Welcome to South Africa and welcome to the African continent.

Once again, we convey our gratitude that you have chosen South Africa to host the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students, which as we agreed in the Preparatory meeting in Caracas, Venezuela will be hosted under the theme: "LET`S DEFEAT IMPERIALISM FOR A WORLD OF PEACE, SOLIDARITY AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION".

South Africa as many of you will know is a politically liberated country of Nelson Mandela, who is part of a generation that fought tirelessly to realise political, social and economic freedom in their lifetime.

Nelson Mandela and his outstanding generation of amongst others Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Congress Mbatha, Robert Resha, William Nkomo, Mxolisi Majombozi, Ahmed Kathrada fought with everything they had to bring us the political freedom we have today. Now as this generation of youth, we draw inspiration from the founding generation of the ANC Youth League who because of their determination liberated South Africa, to fight for economic freedom in our lifetime.

Economic freedom in our lifetime means that we are now engaged in an openly anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle to transfer wealth from the minority to the majority. This includes our call for Nationalisation of Mines. South Africa is the richest country in the world with regards to mineral resources, yet the most unequal in the world. Our people continue to live in poverty and starvation, whilst beneath the soil of South Africa is massive wealth which should be redirected to benefit all our people.

When we closed the 1st National General Council of the ANC Youth League in August 2010, "we expressed the ANC Youth League and South Africa`s readiness to host the 17th World Festival for Youth and Students in December this year". We said so because it is a great honour and privilege for the Youth of South Africa, in particular the youth of the African National Congress to be hosts of the 17th World Festival for Youth and Students.

The Youth of South Africa have been associated with the World Federation of Democratic Youth since its launch in 1945. One of South Africa`s outstanding young revolutionaries, Ruth First attended the launching Congress of WFDY in 1945.

In 1947, the ANC Youth League which had existed for only 3 years sent a delegation to the 2nd World Festival for Youth and Students in Prague, in the Czech Republic to join the many anti-imperialist voices of the youth across the world. During that period, the ANC Youth League always sought ideological and political guidance from WFDY on the internationalist perspectives and what should be the struggles of young people against imperialism.

The ANC Youth League also sought guidance from WFDY of basic organisational issues such as determination of age limit for people who could join and participate in the ANC Youth League. Writing in 1956, former ANC Youth League Secretary General, who later became Secretary General of the ANC at an early age proposed to the ANC Youth League leadership that on issues of determining the age limit of the, the Youth League should look for guidance in youth movements in other countries and also in the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY).

In December 2010, we will be hosting the 17th World Festival for Youth and Students, which is an anti-imperialist gathering of young people from progressive formations across the world. We are more than happy that the young people who will converge here in South Africa in December are organised under the banner of our organisation, the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY).

The relationship between the ANC Youth League and WFDY is profound and will need the whole day to explain, and WFDY`s struggles against apartheid are forever commendable. So it is not by surprise that the WFDY Council chose South Africa as a host of the 17th World Festival for Youth and Students. What is relieving and progressive about WFDY is the fact that it is openly and unapologetically anti-imperialist and opposes any form of oppression in the world. The character of WFDY best explains the struggles we are engaged in here in South Africa, so most of you will easily familiarise with the battles we are fighting.

Hosting the World Festival for Youth and Students will also help to tell the long standing history between WFDY and the National Liberation Movement in South Africa. WFDY opposed apartheid for a very long time and its existence should forever be consolidated to oppose any form of injustice across the world. Whilst appreciating our participation in the International Union of Socialist Youth, we have taken a conscious decision to revive and strengthen our participation in WFDY, because that is where our ideas of a just society are properly and uncompromisingly expressed.

The ANC Youth League will use the World Festival for Youth and Students to call for a more progressive international perspective and foreign policy from South African government. Our foreign policy cannot be about pleasing the interests of imperialists at the expense of progressive forces. Our position on Zimbabwe should be revised and a policy that seeks to strengthen the national liberation movement in Zimbabwe be adopted. Our relationship with national liberation movement such as ZANU PF cannot be just defined by how we relate with them in the past, but what they do in the current period to fight against imperialism, neo colonialism and exploitation.

Our position on our neighbours, Swaziland should be more progressive and openly support progressive forces that want democracy and respect of human and political rights in Swaziland. The ANC cannot be the one that says we should not associate with progressive forces because we are government. The liberation which South Africa enjoys today came as a result of open solidarity from countries, some of which sacrificed their soldiers so that South Africa is free. The determination that inspired the people of CUBA, ANGOLA, ZIMBABWE, TANZANIA, UGANDA, and many other countries, should inspire our government to liberate the people of Swaziland and other oppressed nations in particular Western Sahara.

These are but some of the immediate issues we are focusing on and will again look at WFDY to develop progressive internationalist perspectives on critical issues in the world presently. This includes the issue on the re-unification of Korea and the need for the liberation of Cyprus, which was colonised by Turkey in the 1970s. We wish you a successful International Organising Committee Meeting and confident that you will enjoy your stay in South Africa until the successful hosting of the World Festival.

Beyond doubt, South Africa has maximum capacity to host prestigious international events and gatherings and will not fail in hosting a successful World Festival OF Youth and Students. A successful 17th World Festival of Youth and Students will happen in South Africa in December this years and what will unite all progressive forces of the world will be what Che Guevara once said, that "If you "tremble" with indignation at every "injustice" then you are a comrade of mine"