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24th National Congress: Political Report
16 June 2011, Ghallager Estates, Midrand
We welcome all delegates and guests to the 24th National Congress of the African National Congress Youth League. We welcome the ANC Youth League back in Johannesburg, because it was here in Johannesburg, 67 years ago that the ANC Youth League was officially launched by one of the South Africa`s most outstanding generations of revolutionary freedom fighters, who today are celebrated the world over. We welcome the ANC Youth League back to Johannesburg, particularly Midrand, because the ANC Youth League 1st National General Council happened here in Midrand to do, then, what the NGC is expected to do in August 2010.
The ANC Youth League 24th National Congress is South Africa`s biggest Congress and one of the most important political gatherings, not only with regards to numbers, but also politically and ideologically. There is nowhere else in South Africa and the African continent where an autonomous youth formation can assemble more than 5000 delegated youth representing branches, regions and provinces in one meeting to discuss the future of their country, the continent and the world. More than 90% of delegates at this Congress come from branches of the ANC Youth League, all of which have a minimum of 100 members and were able to meet in Branch Congresses and General Meetings to mandate delegates to come to discuss and consolidate the programme towards total economic emancipation of the economically oppressed people of South Africa, Africa and the world.
We welcome you, proud that the organisation we inherited and which is celebrating its 64th Anniversary is now stronger, more stable and ready to face all organisational, political and ideological battles in the war towards consolidation of political and economic freedom in our lifetime. We address this Congress with our heads held up very high, because we speak on behalf of a powerful, militant, radical and revolutionary youth wing of the ANC, which is unapologetically fighting for the working class and the poor of South Africa, Africa and the world. We address this 24th National Congress with our heads held up very high because we did not betray the mandate you gave us at the 23rd National Congress in April and June 2008.
The 25th National Congress of the ANC Youth League will coincide with its 70th Anniversary and we are proud that our contribution thus far has been formidable. We are proud and confident as a collective because we are the first collective to convene the first ever National General Council of the ANC Youth League as instructed by the Constitution. We are a proud leadership because we convened the 2nd leg of the 23rd National Congress in less than 3 months after we were elected as officials of the ANC Youth League. We also hosted the successful WFDY`s world festival for youth and students which attracted not less 30 000 young people from all over the world in december 2010 after our country hosted a successful fifa world cup in june/july 2010.These are some of the major achievements we have made as this collective and which gives us the courage to stand before you and say that we did not betray your mandate; we did not sell out and we did not neglect what was expected of us by the membership of the ANC Youth League.
We are the Youth of the ANC, a National Liberation Movement which appreciates that the history of the struggles of the existing society, thus far, is the history of class struggles. In the class struggle between the working class (those who do not own the means of production) and capitalists (those who own the means of production), the ANC Youth League is unapologetically on the side of those who do not own the means of production. In the class struggles between the colonial oppressors and the colonised oppressed, we stand to defend and fight for the freedom of the oppressed. In the struggle between imperialists and the political, economic and social victims of imperialism, we stand with the victims of imperialism. Like Che Guevara, we â€śtremble with indignation at every injusticeâ€ť. Inspired by all true revolutionaries across the world, we are aware that the solutions we will obtain from the Congress will be solutions for all the oppressed people, and those who suffer political, social and economic subjugation in South Africa, Africa and the world.
Comrades, in re-affirmation of the character of the ANC, the 3rd National General Council of the ANC which occurred in Durban in September 2010 emphasised the multi-class character of the ANC, with its bias towards the working class and the poor. And, most importantly, the ANC NGC re-affirmed that the ANC continues to be the strategic centre of power, the leader of the Alliance, a disciplined force of the left, and a mass movement with an internationalist and an anti-imperialist outlook. The anti-imperialist outlook of the ANC should not just be rhetorical commitments in declarations; it should begin to find practical expression in the programmes and politics of the National Liberation Movement.
In re-emphasising the Left character and anti-imperialist outlook of the ANC, we have identified our mission and our mission is attainment of economic freedom in our lifetime. Our Congress is sitting under the generational theme of Youth Action for Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime. This theme is a clarion call to all Economic Freedom Fighters that we might have won the political battle in 1994, but the war for total economic and social emancipation of the oppressed people of South Africa is still on-Aluta Continua! Pamberi Nehondo! - until all Power is Transferred to the People. It is a clarion call to the whole nation that we should fight with the determination, consistency, honesty, love and passion of Nelson Mandela to ensure that our total Freedom is realised. Political Power without Economic Emancipation is Meaningless!
As combatants for economic freedom, commissars and organisers of the revolution, we at all times carry a responsibility to always tell no lies and claim no easy victories. The 23rd National Congress, at which we were elected as this leadership, almost collapsed irreversibly because of ill-discipline. Collapsing the ANC YL would have meant we collapsed the efforts and ideals of Mxolisi Majombozi, Walter Sisulu, William Nkomo, Oliver Tambo, A.P Mda, Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and the generations that succeeded this outstanding generation in building the ANC YL. We would have collapsed the vision of the 4th President of the ANC Cde JT Gumede, one of the best Presidents of the ANC, who said in the early 1940s that the formation of the ANC YL will make the ANC live forever. We are here today to recommit ourselves to protect the legacy of the 1944 generation and to also close the ugly picture of Mangaung, our 23rd National Congress. As part of the build up towards the centenary of the ANC, a beautiful picture of unity at this Congress will be a noble offering to our mother body, the glorious movement of the people by the people for the people when it turns 100 years in less than six months to come. In the immediate future it will be a fitting farewell to our grandmother Albertina Sisulu who was the only female at our founding Congress in 1944.
The leadership collective elected at the 23rd National Congress can now stand tall to report to Mama Sisulu, Walter Sisulu, Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela, and Oliver Tambo that we have not only prevented the decay which almost infiltrated the organisation they founded 67 years ago but that we also have repositioned the ANC Youth League to play the role it was founded to play in 1944. With more detraction coming from many angles, we are proud to say that, in 2011, the ANC YL is not a Kindergarten establishment as some have tried to define it, but a formidable formation of the youth of South Africa with meaningful influence over the political and ideological direction of the ANC, the National Liberation Movement, and now the governing political party in South Africa.
We salute Mama Albertina Sisulu, a fearless fighter, a caring and loving Mother of the nation who has nurtured great revolutionaries in the entire National Liberation Movement. Mama Sisulu was the only female delegate - as indicated earlier - at the launching Congress of the ANC Youth League in 1944, because discussions about the formation of the ANC Youth League were consolidated at the house she shared with Comrade Walter Sisulu. Mxolisi Majombozi, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, William Nkomo, Anton Lembede, Congress Mbatha, A.P Mda who found comfort in Mama Sisulu`s home to discuss how best to radicalise the ANC, and their solution was that the ANC Youth League should be formed to be a militant and radical mobiliser within the ANC. We will forever be grateful for her contribution to our liberation struggle and,as the young generation in the struggle today, we will continue to learn from her legacy. MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE.
We salute the 1976 generation of Freedom Fighters, whose fearlessness, courage and dedication brought apartheid to its knees. The fighting spirit of this generation should inspire all of us to soldier on because from 16th June 1976, the youth of South Africa never stopped to render the apartheid state ungovernable and the apartheid machinery unworkable. Solomon Mahlangu, a fearless fighter and revolutionary selfless combatant of the Umkhonto WeSizwe, is a product of the 1976 generation. Tsietsi Mashinini, Mbuyisa Makhubo, Hector Peterson, Antoinette Sithole and many others who sacrificed their lives for freedom will forever remain in our memories and inspire our courage and fearlessness in everything we do.
We salute Comrade President of the South African Youth Congress (SAYCO), a trained cadre of Umkhonto WeSizwe, Robben Island Prisoner, and a first President of the ANC Youth League after the unbanning of Political Parties, Comrade Peter Mokaba and his generation. He militantly led a generation of militant and fearless Young Lions, which confronted the regime and made the last push until it came to the negotiation table to surrender all political power. We salute Comrade Peter, because from him we have learned the militancy, radicalism and fearlessness to speak our mind and defend the revolution. Today we represent the true character of the Youth Movement of the ANC because we learned from Comrade Peter Mokaba. Cde Peter Mokaba was buried on this day in 2002 and may his soul rest in peace as we remember him today at this Congress.
Many will try to underplay the influence and impact of the ANC YL in our term of office, but we did well and are proud of the road travelled. We are proud of our progress, but we also acknowledge the many miles ahead of us, which requires a militant, consistent and disciplined organisation. We acknowledge the miles ahead of us because we understand that organisation and discipline are weapons and tools for sustainable, impactful political and ideological influence in society. We are making progress in strengthening our organisation and we are aware that still more needs to be done. The fact that 8 out 9 Provinces went to Congresses without pressure from the National Congress, with the majority of regions organisationally and politically stable and counting more than 900 additional branches as compared to 2008, is a confirmation that the ANC YL lives and leads.
There is no doubt that the ANC Youth League is currently at the forefront of major political and ideological battles in South Africa in a manner that inspires many youth movements across our continent and the world. Our call for mines to be nationalised and land to be expropriated without compensation are currently the most important rallying points to mobilise society behind the visions of the Freedom Charter. More inspiring is the fact that as the ANC YL, we have got the ANC, South Africa and the world to begin to ask critical questions about mining and the role of the State in this important sector of the economy. Some people had already convinced themselves that the South Africa`s mine ownership by a few conglomerates and multinational companies is a natural phenomenon. We have demonstrated, through sound political and ideological arguments, that mines in South Africa can be and should be nationalised. The nation is talking about the economy because the Youth League speaks about the economy.
Whilst appreciating the ANC Youth League`s role of mobilising the youth behind the vision of the ANC, and championing their interests, we have politically and organisationally repositioned the ANC Youth League to play the role of the Youth League of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, and Anton Lembede. Our Youth League is politically and ideologically sound, committed and militant, and consistently raising critical issues that relate to socio-economic transformation. We are leading almost all key ideological and political questions in the South African economy on issues of economic transformation, social transformation, education, social cohesion, and a non-racial South Africa under construction and the challenges thereof.
Comrades, our struggle is the National Democratic Revolution which is a struggle to resolve the national, gender and class contradictions through creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and united South Africa. The end result of the NDR should necessarily be the political, social and economic emancipation of the black majority, and Africans in particular. The NDR is not a class-neutral struggle, but a struggle of the working class in their pursuit of total emancipation from colonial, racial and class oppression. In South Africa today, elements of colonial, racial and class oppression continue to define an absolute majority of our people, blacks in general, and Africans in particular. This in essence means the struggle is not over, and we have an obligation to intensify it.
The ANC is a broad church, it welcomes everyone within its ranks to fight for its ideals but being a broad church does not mean that the ANC`s political and ideological direction is broad or multi-directional, it simply means that all people are welcome to join the ANC.Once you are in the ANC, you fight, amongst other things, to achieve the aims and objectives of the Freedom Charter through a National Democratic Revolution. At the core of the NDR should be a class and politically-conscious working class, which should utilise proper tools of analysis and revolutionary theory to guide the revolution.
Whether we have a conscious working class which uses Marxism-Leninism as our guide to action and tools of analysis in South Africa today is a question we should always ask because what is supposed to be the vanguard of the working class in South Africa has degenerated into a lobby group in the ANC. The organisation of Moses Kotane, Joe Slovo, and Commander-in-Chief, Chris Hani, played a very important role in shaping the ideological direction and political strategies and tactics of the National Liberation Movement, but it has now degenerated into a lobby group, as we have mentioned, in the ANC, concerned more on who becomes a Mayor, MEC, Minister or Secretary of the ANC, than struggles of the working class and the poor. There is nothing ideologically sound and coherent that comes from what is supposed to be the vanguard of the working class, despite the fact that we are in a class struggle.
In the absence of a vanguard of the working class politically, ideologically and organisationally, the ANC Youth League should assume the role of the vanguard of the working class. Nature does not allow a vacuum and once a vacuum is created, it will be occupied by something else, in this instance a more better positioned something else is the Youth League. Ideologically and politically, the ANC Youth League has been at the forefront of working class struggles, which seeks to change property relations and transfer wealth from the minority to the majority. Politically and organisationally, the ANC Youth League has openly associated and supported struggles of the working class and workers, even in instances where workers were confronting the democratic government of the ANC. We are not apologetic about this character because that is who we are.
When we are at the forefront of the ideological, political and organisational struggles of the working class, those who call themselves â€śvanguards of the working classâ€ť have been looking for reasons and creating conspiracies on why the struggles of the working class are not genuine. In our call for nationalisation of mines, those who call themselves â€śvanguards of the working classâ€ť developed a conspiracy theory that we are simply saying nationalisation of mines because we are bought by black business people, and now that we have raised the bar to speak about expropriation without compensation, the so-called vanguard of the working class say we are reckless. A question we should ask is: what is reckless about calling for changing property relations to favour the working class and the poor?
Comrades, our taking over the leadership role of working class struggles at ideological, political and organisational level means that we should begin to organise workers in their workplaces and speak to real working class issues and struggles, in particular relating to the need to change South Africa`s racialised capitalist relations. The ANC Youth League should mobilise workers in mines, factories and farms, and organically develop ideological and political positions that will lead to their total emancipation. The ANC Youth League should be the voice of the petrol attendants, waiters and waitresses, and tellers in retail chain stores because they do not have a voice. We should be the voice of farm workers, of garbage carriers, of street sweepers, of manufacturing workers, of the unemployed reserves of workers. We should be the voice of all people in informal settlements and underdeveloped areas.
There is no organisation in the Congress Movement which currently speaks on behalf of the people in the informal settlements, because SANCO is non-existent and the â€śvanguardâ€ť exists in offices and not on the ground where the poor, suffering people live. We were in Alexandra in Sthwetla during the elections campaign and can say that the poverty that the people of Sthwetla and many communities like them face is not a joke. Old women and mothers stay in single-roomed shacks with their older children, because they have nowhere else to stay. During rainy seasons, those staying next to the Jukskei River are engulfed by the water and some of the people have not yet been discovered since their disappearance. These people, those who suffer, remain loyal to the ANC, and 17 years into democracy, we still have a Sthwetla and we still have a Diepsloot informal settlement, with their inhuman living conditions and with health hazards and where our people are so easily exposed to natural disasters.
The ANC Youth League should be the voice of the voiceless, because if they do not have a voice, reactionary and counter progressive forces and white political parties will play with the emotions of our people. Being the vanguard of the working class means that we should unapologetically and consistently defend the interests of the working class at ideological, political and organisational levels, and that is what should continue to inform the politics of the ANC Youth League post the 24th National Congress. These are the people the ANC seeks to liberate from political, social and economic bondage, and a solid base of our electoral support. We should consolidate our base, the African working class majority, who constitute 80% of the South African population not through election messages, but through tangible programmes to redeem them from starvation and inhuman living conditions.
In the struggle to emancipate our people, we should never live in dreamland and for a moment believe that those empowered and enriched by the murderous apartheid system will share in our vision to transform South Africa for the benefit of all. If our message is land reform and an equal share and benefit of and from the land, then those empowered and enriched by apartheid will not support us. If our message is black empowerment, then those empowered and enriched by apartheid think that we will deny them the privileges they got because of apartheid. When we speak affirmative action, those who were given jobs and paid higher salaries through job reservation think we are denying them and their children access to jobs. This is despite the fact that unemployment amongst those who benefited from apartheid is less than 5%, whilst more than 30% of Africans who need jobs and are capable of working cannot find jobs.
Whatever messages the ANC can communicate during elections, the ideology of racism has been cultivated in the minds and psychological outlook of those who benefited from apartheid from an early age, mainly because of South Africa`s economic inequalities. The first confrontation and interaction most white children have with black people is through domestic workers and garden boys, who are often referred to as girls and boys and who sleep in tiny backyard rooms. The second or third interaction they have with a black person is the one who is begging on the street corner or the Security Guard, cleaner, tea lady, or gardener at the crĂ¨che. In their minds, most white children grow up with an understanding that these black people cannot do anything sophisticated, but can only be useful as assistants and helpers of white people. Apartheid economic inequalities have successfully cultivated the thinking amongst an absolute majority of white people in South Africa that blacks are incompetent and visionless - and changing those views is not easy.
We mentioning this point because, in as much as we hold so dearly the notion and practice of non-racialism, we carry a responsibility to be honest and fight for all Freedom Charter objectives, despite the insecurities of those empowered and enriched by the evil system of apartheid. South Africa, indeed, belongs to all who live in it - black and white, and this can be more factual when ownership of land, mines, banks and monopoly industries reflects that we all belong here. As things stand, a few white people own 90% of South Africa`s wealth and that the country belongs to all who live in it looks untrue. How does South Africa belong to all of us when the majority of our people do not own anything? And then they face the possibility of being evicted from their land by white farmers everyday, who will, after evicting farm workers and refusing them burial space for their families, cry foul and play victim?
Comrades, we have come a long way since the 23rd National Congress with regards to the issues that Congress mandated us to do, and this includes youth development. Our approach to youth development does not isolate youth issues from thorough socio-economic transformation, because youth are critical to, if not the core of, South Africa`s most productive sectors. We have fulfilled the long held vision of the ANC Youth League of adoption of the National Youth Policy and ultimately merged the Umsombomvu Youth Fund and the National Youth Commission to form the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). The NYDA and its Provincial Chapters have been established and more work has to be done to consolidate the functions of the NYDA. We should make an honest admission that more work can still be done than what has already been done by the NYDA.
The agenda for youth development should never be compromised by any narrow political squabbles and exchanges, but should at all times underpin and define the focus of the ANC Youth League. Youth in the proper sense are people who are in transition from childhood dependence to adulthood independence and, in the process of transition, are defined by many factors and have many interests and aspirations. These include, but are not limited to, the attainment of skills, education and expertise in areas that can contribute to their personal development and the development of society.
We were at the forefront of the struggles in the ANC to call for the establishment of universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga Provinces and for the first time under our leadership, the ANC has adopted a resolution to establish universities in these Provinces. We made the call for the provision of free sanitary towels and already programmes are in place to provide free sanitary towels to poor females in indigent municipalities. All the central and key economic transformation issues that re-affirm the Freedom Charter are now firmly on the agenda of the ANC, because we were at the forefront of these battles.
The terrain of struggle we are currently occupying, Comrades, requires of us to consolidate the massive political support the ANC enjoys amongst the people of South Africa. At CODESA, the oppressor conceded political power and retained economic power through the Constitutional commitments of the right to private property. The Oppressor was, however, fully aware that the economic power they have retained can be taken away through political power, which is the power to decide which laws and regulations can be passed to redress injustices of the past and build a solid foundation for sustainable economic development, democratisation and transformation of the State, economy and society as a whole.
The political power that the ANC enjoys can only be consolidated through increasing support in elections. Comrades, in a revolution, quantity or numbers or size matters and in South Africa today, increased support for the ANC during elections matters because it is a cornerstone of what we have to achieve as a movement. The reason the liberal and right wing forces celebrate when the ANC moves away from their two-thirds majority support in elections is because they are aware that, with the two-thirds majority, we will be able to change the Constitution, particularly the Sunset Clauses, which committed us to leave South Africa`s wealth and land in white people`s hands, whilst the majority of black, and particularly Africans, live in starvation and poverty.
Comrades, this leadership of the ANC Youth League has done all we can to consolidate the ANC electoral support, both in the 2009 general elections and 2011 local government elections. We introduced new campaign strategies and models to the boring electoral politics of South Africa, which mobilised many young people to vote for the ANC. Through our programmes, we altogether buried the notion that young people are apathetic. In both the 2009 and 2011 general elections, many young people were agitated sufficiently to actively participate in elections in far larger turnouts as compared to the previous general and local government elections. We should be proud that we have successfully mobilised young people behind the vision of the ANC.
The ANC did not lose white votes and actually had a slight increase from other minorities, in particular Coloureds in Cape Town, but faced decreased African votes because of poor co-ordination of particularly the list processes which led to many being dissatisfied with the outcomes and changing of the lists in some instances. Our campaign did not have the lift-off as expected like the 2009 general elections. We should, however, not sit back and cry over spilt milk; we should design a clear way forward and learn from the mistakes we made in the past elections. Our people still love and support the ANC.
Our mission from this Congress, Comrades, is to make sure that the support of the ANC is not only consolidated, but increased to more than 75% in the 2014 general elections, particularly amongst blacks and Africans in particular. The rest are unlikely to vote for the ANC because they feel threatened by the aspirations of the Freedom Charter and they do not want to share in the country`s wealth, which are the key messages we will not betray. The ANC will need 75% of electoral support in the upcoming general elections, because we have to enact key radical transformation policies and legislations that will speak to economic freedom in our lifetime. For us to expropriate without compensation, we should change the Constitution, so a greater majority is necessary. We have the capacity to reach more than 75%, like Frelimo in Mozambique and the MPLA in Angola.
It should, therefore, be mandatory of all ANC structures and deployees in all spheres of government and sections of society to work tirelessly from now onwards for the ANC`s 75% plus victory in the upcoming general elections. Campaigning for the ANC is not only speaking to people about what the ANC has done and will do. It is about delivering better and tangible services to our people. Campaigning for the ANC is about being accountable to the people we serve. It is about ANC leaders in all spheres of government being accessible at all times, and telling the people the truth whenever there are challenges and difficulties.
Campaigning for the ANC is about introducing better solutions to the challenges of service delivery. Campaigning for the ANC should be about creating jobs for the majority of the unemployed youth and giving them courage and inspiration to achieve more. Campaigning for the ANC is also about the good conduct of leaders of the ANC at all levels of leadership. The ANC should never be seen to be promoting and enriching a few families and individuals who are close to power. The ANC leadership should never be associated with immoral and socially unacceptable practices such as drunkenness, corruption, promiscuity and conspicuous consumption. Leaders of the ANC should at all times be exemplary and inspire hope and confidence among all the people of South Africa. These are values that should guide and inspire the ANC towards the 2014 General elections.
The 2011 local government elections exposed to us some of the weaknesses we encounter with regards to the ANC`s internal accountability and monitoring mechanisms and systems of representatives of the ANC in Councils and other spheres of government. The fact that an ANC Municipality had built open toilets for our people in the Free State and the ANC leadership was unaware of it is but one of the examples why our internal systems are vulnerable. The ANC has lost a significant number of votes in certain communities due to irresponsible Councillors who, after elections, began to disrespect their communities and some even relocated to stay with rich people because they feel being a Councillor distinguishes them from the people. We said to our people during the elections that the ANC will never fail them, but individuals can fail them.
At local level, it is more difficult for the ANC because recalling Councillors who misbehave is a complicated process, which results in a by-election. We should discuss at this Congress whether there can be an amendment of legislation governing this sphere of government to allow the mandating political parties to recall and replace Councillors who do not do what they were mandated to do and not to take recourse to by-elections. To prevent abuse of recall and replace, an agreement can be reached that recalling can only happen up to a certain number of Councillors deployed by a political party during a term of office. This discussion should be linked to the discussion which the ANC has already started on combining national, provincial and local government elections into one general election after every five years. This can assist in the alignment of priorities of the ANC at all levels with the full understanding that our actions and progress at all levels will have direct impact on electoral outcomes.
These are some of the issues that should be dealt with, but we should never be diverted from the strategic focus of our mission as a generation, the mission of the attainment of total economic freedom in our lifetime. By economic freedom we mean the realisation of all Freedom Charter objectives, and this can only happen through the transfer of wealth from those who own it today, which is the white minority to the black majority. South Africa`s land should be shared amongst those who work it. South Africa`s wealth should be shared amongst the people. The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industries should be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.
The ANC entered into the Sunset Clauses because it did not want to enter into a reckless, directionless seizure of wealth and land in a manner which was going to cause political, social and economic instability. We chose to utilise the instruments of democracy as mechanisms to transfer wealth and economy to benefit all people and this is the best way because, in the democratic process, everyone can contribute.
The ANC has for the past 17 years tried to transform the economy through Charters and BEE codes of good practice and if we are all honest, those efforts have failed dismally because those who own the means of production refuse to transfer wealth to the historically disadvantaged. The ANC has, for the past 17 years, tried to transfer land through the willing buyer-willing seller principle and approach and we all know that it has also failed dismally.
When we attained democracy and freedom in 1994, black people owned only 13% of the land and white people owned 87% of the land, mainly because of the 1913 land Act and the Bantustan Act of the apartheid government. The democratic government planned to redistribute only 30% of the land within the first 20 years of democracy, so that after 20 years of political freedom, black people would own 43% of the land.
In 2011, less than 5% of South Africa`s land has been redistributed. The indications are that, by 2014, we will still not have exceeded 5% land redistribution, which will be 20 years since the democratic dispensation. If we continue with this trend and pace of 5% transfer every 20 years, it means we would have redistributed only 25% of land in 100 years. In other words, in 100 years time, the inequalities between black people and white people will still remain, and this will automatically lead to continued racism and economic subjugation of blacks by white people, like it happened under apartheid.
This generation of Economic Freedom Fighters should never agree to such, because in 100 years` time, all of us here will no longer be alive and our children and grandchildren will say we sold-out because they will still be living under white economic domination, more than 100 years after political independence and freedom. The struggle for land reform and transfer of land is long overdue and should be speeded up to avoid the conflicts that characterise many post-independence African states, nations and countries. We refuse to continue living like we are in a colony.
The only solution available to us now is expropriation without compensation; because we carry an obligation to do so, and can do so without violence and war through the political power which we are given by the people of South Africa. We cannot continue to function as we have not won the war against colonial domination and racial oppression. These were the pillars that kept the economic subjugation of the black majority and Africans, in particular, intact. Now that we have removed these pillars of apartheid domination, we carry a responsibility, actually an obligation, to use political power to transfer wealth for the benefit of all our people.
The land question, Comrades, is at the centre of ANC politics since its formation almost 100 years ago. As early as 1919, the 2nd President of the ANC, who is amongst the most progressive Presidents and leaders of the ANC and one who played an active role in the formation of the ANC, and who witnessed the introduction of the Land Act of 1913, President Sefako Makgatho said, â€śWe ask for no special favours from the Government. This is the land of our fathersâ€ť. This was because the Land Act of 1913 prevented Africans from buying, renting or using land, except in the reserves. Many communities or families immediately lost their land because of the Land Act. For millions of other black people it became very difficult to live off the land. The Land Act caused overcrowding, land hunger, poverty and starvation.
In 1953, on his address to the 42nd National Conference of the ANC, President Chief Albert Luthuli said, â€śYou will agree that the masses of the African people live in abject poverty in both rural and urban areas and so many Africans find themselves landless and homeless. They find themselves suffering from hunger, malnutrition and disease. You must agree that the basic cause of this deplorable state of affairs is due, inter alia, to the inadequacy and crowdedness of the land allowed them, being only about twelve per cent of the land surface of the Union for eight million Africans, as against practically the rest for the 2.5 million whitesâ€ť. This situation comrades, has not changed, many decades after one of the greatest Presidents of the ANC spoke about it.
The battle cry â€śMAYIBUYE iAFRIKAâ€ť, which President Chief Albert Luthuli and many of his generation made was not just a slogan, it was a clarion call for the return of the land to the rightful owners, the dispossessed and conquered Africans. Our position on Land reform should ultimately achieve what the ANC Youth League`s Basic Policy Document of 1948 said should be achieved. In 1948, the ANC Youth League`s position on land was the following:
- the re-division of land among farmers and peasants of all nationalities in proportion to their numbers
- the application of modern scientific methods to, and the planned development of, agriculture;
- the improvement of land, the reclamation of denuded areas and the conservation of water supplies;
- The mass education of peasants and farmers in the techniques of agricultural production.
These ideals continue to inspire us, in particular the emphasis on re-division of land amongst those who work it in proportion to their numbers. The aim to re-divide and redistribute the land can never be successful if the approach is to buy back our land. If we do anything to the contrary, we will be betraying President O.R. Tambo, who in the message titled â€śRender South Africa Ungovernableâ€ť on the 73rd Anniversary of the ANC in 1985 said, â€śThe land question must be resolved, if needs be, the hard wayâ€ť. This he said because President Tambo first said, â€śThe dispossession of our people of the land that is theirs remains one of the most burning national grievances. The gross injustice of this historic crime has been compounded by the racists` arrogant attempt to deprive the African majority of their inalienable birthright as citizens of their country, South Africa. Millions of our people in the rural areas are brutally exploited as agricultural workers on farms carved out of their ancestral landsâ€ť. We will never betray O.R Tambo.
Transfer of wealth and economic power will mean that we also defeat apartheid planning and spatial development patterns, where only a few centres of economic development were identified. Economic development in South Africa cannot and should never be about Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town only. All other areas, in particular those with economically sustainable natural resources should be developed into cities. Cities are consciously created and the democratic government should towards 30 years of democracy, identify and pride itself on the cities it should have built under a democratic dispensation.
Because cities are sustained by robust sustainable economic activities and programmes, the South African government should build adequate capacity to drive labour-absorptive industrialisation. This capacity includes that capacity to efficiently and profitably manage nationalised mines in order to give a consistent supply of natural resources and minerals to industries which will domestically beneficiate and industrialise minerals. Domestic industrialisation and beneficiation of South Africa`s minerals will lead to the creation of many job opportunities and the concomitant reduction of poverty.
The development and growth of the South African economy should be linked dynamically to the development of the African continent, because we should never think that we can sustainably develop in isolation. South Africa should play a clearly defined developmental role in the African economy and contribute to its growth and stability. South Africa should not merely be the gateway to the African economy by developed and developing economies; it should itself play a leading role in investing in the African continent.
This will obviously require an increased capacity, strong, corrupt-free and effective State and Public Service. For a successful Developmental State, an inspired, skilled, and well compensated public service is required. The State should also build internal capacity to construct and maintain infrastructure such as roads, railway, dams, etc. and basic services such as schools, houses, hospitals and recreational facilities. The State`s dependence on tenders has massive political implications and often reduces the quality of work provided because of corruption and corruptibility of the whole tendering system.
Where government has to outsource certain services, those who bid for contracts and tenders to supply government with services and those who acquire contracts to build schools, houses, roads, clinics and many other services for the State should do so with excellence. Economic opportunities should be created for the youth and procurement policies should be aligned to prioritise young people in provision of services, but this should never lead to tolerance of inferior quality work. We need to build and cultivate a culture of responsible and patriotic service provision, and not narrow profit maximisation when our people are receiving lower quality services.
For us the youth, these economic freedom pillars and objectives mean that we should be educated. In everything we do, education should take centre stage, because it is through education that we will be able to build and sustain a credible and vibrant economy which will inject new innovations and ideas into the world economy. Free education cannot just be on the agenda and in budget speeches year after year; it must become reality at all levels and the quality of teaching and learning should be enhanced and harnessed.
In the process of acquiring knowledge, skills and expertise, young people should live and lead responsible lifestyles and avoid concurrent multiple sexual relationships and abuse of alcohol, substances and drugs. We should begin to cultivate a culture of responsible youth and patriotic citizens who love themselves and their environment in South Africa. We should celebrate life without alcohol, drugs and intoxicating substances. We should cultivate responsible sexual conduct amongst the youth.
We have to avoid multiple sexual relationships because HIV is a reality and killing many young people across the country. We should, in this instance, commend the aggressive approach of the Ministry of Health in tackling the health challenges confronting the country, particularly the manner in which the Ministry tackles HIV/AIDS. The energy in the Ministry should be replicated in all Provinces and Municipalities so that we completely combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
We are fighting for all these ideals because, ultimately, we want all South Africans, particularly the youth, to have access to equal education, employment and business opportunities. Whilst we welcome the essence of the South African government`s commitment to, and emphasis on, job creation, the ANC Youth League should never agree with the introduction of tax rebates for big business. Tax allowances and tax breaks are not very different from the two-tier labour systems which the ANC rejected and denounced on more than one occasion. It looks like, time and again, attempts to subsidise the private sector (capitalists) with the hope that they will create decent sustainable jobs, are made in various forms and shapes. Government should explore other incentives to attract labour-absorptive industrial and manufacturing investors, but not through tax breaks and allowances.
The billions of Rands announced to help businesses should be redirected to development of Small and Medium Enterprises in rural areas, particularly small scale agriculture. Additional to this, the State`s procurement policies should prioritise small scale agriculture so that the State`s purchasing of food for school feeding schemes, hospitals, and prisons, empowers this sector. These billions can also be used for the maintenance of rural and townships infrastructure through a highly labour-absorptive model. In this instance, the State should provide sustainable jobs to unemployed people in rural areas and townships whose responsibilities will include the maintenance of roads, sports and recreation facilities, providing security at schools and recreational facilities, providing security as community policing forums and all other interventions that will contribute to sustainable livelihoods. We should make sure that at least in each and every family there is one or more employed persons.
The ANC Youth League should actively oppose wage subsidies and all sorts of models of enticing capitalists because entrusting the private sector with this urgent need of job creation is potentially dangerous. The 17 years of democracy in South Africa have proven that, whilst playing an important role in the growth of the economy, the private sector is not interested in the upliftment of our people through job creation and other developmental interventions. We should sooner accept the reality that the private sector is obsessed with profit maximisation and will forever try to use as few people as possible to make more profits. The State should, therefore, play a central and leading role in the creation of sustainable employment for our people.
These interventions are cannot be based on lessons derived from previous State wage subsidies through internships and learnerships, because we do not have a coherent economic development strategy. There was much excitement about the New Growth Path and the National Planning Commission, but it looks like these interventions are not getting off the ground. The New Growth Path was not new because it was repeating the same mistakes of GEAR and ASGISA, that is, of growth first and the rest shall follow. Furthermore, the lack of leadership by the celebrated Minister responsible for planning is failing the planning commission and process. It is almost three years since a Minister of Planning was appointed, but there is still no direction and clarity on which direction we are taking as a country.
Recently, the National Planning Commission released a Diagnostic Report, which we understand is an attempt to diagnose challenges confronting South Africa before proper solutions are developed to respond to these challenges. Our input to any diagnosis in South Africa is that the biggest challenges are the massive wealth and economic inequalities created by colonial and apartheid domination of one race by another. The solution should be, and can only be, decisive leadership ready to redistribute the economy from those empowered by the colonial and apartheid domination to the previously oppressed and exploited people of South Africa. Any diagnostic report that fails to acknowledge this reality is misdiagnosis and will dismally fail.
Comrades, we hold noble ideals for economic freedom in our lifetime and like true revolutionaries we have to honestly assess what are the objective and subjective challenges to these noble objectives of radical economic transformation. The obvious objective challenge to our pillars for economic freedom in our lifetime will obviously be the imperialist backlash, an element which might violently react because some of the decisions we have to take will affect their economic interests. A remedy to this can be a clearly defined political, ideological and strategic alignment with the emerging economies such as China, Russia, India and Brazil, and not merely the fluid agreement we have under BRICS.
Our subjective challenge will be election of weak, directionless, and visionless leadership which will not be able to understand that things are not as they seem on the world stage of politics. All revolutions that have happened across the world have one consistent feature, which is determined, fearless, committed and willing leadership. Nelson Mandela is a world icon today because he was determined to fight for freedom, and was fearless of even death, and was committed to the ideals of the Freedom Charter, and willing to serve the people. Whether we have such kind of leadership is a question this Congress should answer.
Comrades, this Congress has to answer the question of whether we have men and women of courage in the Liberation Movement who are ready to confront white monopoly capital and imperialism and fearlessly fight for the ideals of the Freedom Charter. Do we have courageous men and women who, 100 years after the existence of the ANC, will say we should confront the economic and neo-colonial subjugation of the black majority and Africans in the same way Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and their generation confronted apartheid repression in the face of death, torture and imprisonment?
Comrades, our Congress should answer whether we have leadership in the liberation movement with the necessary ideological tools of analysis to understand the nature and practice of the re-colonisation of the African continent through force by the United States and the European Union. Do we have leadership that has the necessary sophistication to expose the new methods of imperialism where exploiters act like they support you while they are extracting your natural resources to depletion and you benefit nothing from it? Do we have leadership that can appreciate that Britain has never been sympathetic to the cause for the liberation of the black majority, and Africans in particular, even when previous generations begged some freedoms from the Colonial Master?
These critical questions, Comrades, should be asked because we do not want to be like the designers and constructors of beautiful, full-of-value vehicles that are given to unlicensed and untaught drivers to drive, with the hope that they will learn in the process. We have to ask these critical questions because we do not want to design and construct aircraft and hand them over to donkey-cart riders and hope that we will go somewhere. We have to ask these critical questions because we have learned that subjective elements in a revolution are as important as objective elements, and in many circumstances, subjective elements have failed many revolutions.
The inability of our government to detect the imperialist intentions of the US and the EU in Libya is not forgivable, because it has diminished the respect the ANC enjoys amongst the progressive forces of the world. South Africa`s endorsement of a plan to invade Libya, sponsor rebels, assassinate the political leadership of Libya, and take over the oil production can never be justified, and it is a sign of a lack of coherent foreign policy direction at government level in terms of what should be the African agenda. Whatever the reason may be, endorsement of re-colonial invasion can never be correct because when they are done in Libya, they will choose other defenceless African countries.
These are the critical questions which this Congress must guide its leadership on so that a clearer perspective on what we need to see the ANC do after 100 years of its existence is properly decided. We have to properly and politically decide on how we move forward. We have to decide on how we move forward because we cannot continue to fear imperialism and former colonial masters - especially after we have attained political democracy and freedom. We have to decide how we move forward because we cannot sell-out African countries to blood and oil thirsty imperialist scavengers who have invaded Libya.
There is greater consensus in the ANC on the nationalisation of mines and other strategic sectors of the economy, but we are still to see if the leadership has the political will to confront mining capitalists. It is the courage and the political will of the leadership which must inform the militant and radical resolutions and policy directions to be taken at the 53rd National Conference of the ANC in December 2012.
Comrades, no progressive leader in Africa and former colonised and oppressed world agrees with the imperialist take-over of Libya and Ivory Coast, and the continued occupation of Western Sahara, and the continued repressive monarchy in Swaziland. All these leaders of Africa and progressive forces of the world are looking to South Africa to lead in the voices that oppose the invasion of Libya and the imperialist take-over of Ivory Coast, the continued occupation of Western Sahara, and the repressive monarchy of Swaziland. They are rightfully and correctly looking to South Africa because South Africa was, amongst others, liberated by the voices and solidarity of other countries on the African continent and the world. It is in times like these that we think of the longest serving President of the ANC, President O.R Tambo, who understood that international solidarity can bring down illegitimate and inhuman regimes and governments and bring liberation to the oppressed people.
Comrades, the ANC has progressive resolutions on Swaziland, Western Sahara, Cuba, Palestine, Zimbabwe, and Liberation Movements in Africa. The ANC has resolutions which say we should work to strengthen former liberation movements in Africa, particularly ZANU-PF, Frelimo, SWAPO, MPLA, Chama Chamapindudzi and all the progressive forces that contributed in the struggle against oppression. Why these resolutions are not official foreign policy positions of the South African government escapes our imagination. If the ANC government is not taking its foreign policy positions and directives from the ANC, where do the foreign policy directives come from? The political emancipation of the people of Swaziland is in our hands, and we should, with revolutionary responsibility and courage, ensure that the people of Swaziland are emancipated.
The youth of Egypt and Tunisia showed the world that no government can claim authority over people forever unless it is based on the will of the people. It is appears, though, that the imperialists hijacked the true and revolutionary courage of the people of Egypt and Tunisia by replacing the fallen dictators with authorities favourable to them. The imperialist has taken over and continues to show inconsistency with regards to Yemen and Bahrain because, in those countries, the repressive regimes are favourable to the imperialist forces. The nature of political uprisings in the Arab world has very unique socio-political features which will not apply in Sub-Saharan Africa like some people wanted to suggest. If you study the 1979 Iranian revolution and notice what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, you will notice similarities peculiar to the Arab world.
The ANC fought for political freedom and power for close to 100 years, with an understanding that once in political power, certain functions and responsibilities will be fulfilled. Most of these are contained in the Freedom Charter, which led to the Treason Trial, banning of political parties and the arrest of many political leaders in South Africa. The Freedom Charter, as a vision of the ANC, made the regime become more violent and it killed many of the activists of the Liberation Movement because they were fearful of a vision. It can then never be correct that, after we have attained political freedom and power, we abandon the Freedom Charter.
Comrades, the balance of forces are in favour of the forces of change and the ANC Strategy and Tactics adopted in 2007 affirms this notion. But also developments in the world affirm that, while the imperialist forces continue with violence, alternate voices are growing which were not as strong in the early 1990s when South Africa`s transition was happening. In the recent past, the world has noticed that capitalism is not the be-all and end-all of economics on the world stage. Capitalism has shown that it can collapse, but its collapse does not mean the automatic rise of socialism.
The political situation domestically and internationally presents us with an opportunity to move more decisively to effect the necessary changes in a robust democratic way, which will not gain the support of everyone. We should appreciate the fact that in a class divided society, interests of the opposing classes are never reconcilable, and the ANC should begin to act on behalf of the class that does not own the means of production. The ANC should never be an instrument that oppresses the people it is supposed to liberate because, as things stand, the ANC is managing the State on behalf of those who own and control the means of production.
Post 100 years of its existence, the ANC should reflect what the 3rd National General Council of the ANC re-affirmed-GENERATIONAL MIX. The world is getting younger and South Africa is a young nation, so those who lead the ANC and government should be younger. Since our call for generational mix, we have noticed the ascendance of many young leaders of the ANC into positions with serious responsibilities and into leadership positions in the ANC and government. Almost all - if not all - Provincial Secretaries of the ANC are recent graduates of the ANC Youth League and there is a growing number of younger MECs, Mayors and Members of Mayoral Committees in all Provinces.
Younger leadership is energetic and less conservative. This is proven by the courage of Walter Sisulu who was elected Secretary General of the ANC at the age of 37 and turned it into a mass, fighting movement. Comrade Walter Sisulu said what will lead to the death and decline of the ANC will be when the ANC loses its fighting spirit. All great revolutionaries in the world and in the continent made most impact when they were younger. This applies to Vladimir Lenin, Fidel Castro, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Nelson Mandela, and many great revolutionaries of the world. It is time for the younger generation in the ANC to rise in leadership responsibilities, occupy centre stage and invoke renewed energy and dedication to build a better South Africa.
Comrades, once more a clarion call is made to all Economic Freedom Fighters that the struggle continues. Our weapons in this struggle are ideological clarity, commitment, dedication and the will to change the lives of our people for the better. This means we should in the real sense be Organisers and Commissars of the Revolution. When we say every ANC Youth League Member is a Commissar... An Organiser, we mean that all of us should be baptised with the necessary ideological and political tools to persuade the ANC of our ideals and mobilise society behind the ideals of which we have persuaded the Movement.
Comrades, we bear an obligation to reproduce our ideas and propose new strategies on how best to make our ideas reality. We will never rely on the older generation to provide new strategies and tactics, but we can learn a lot from them. We learn from Sefako Makgatho, J.T. Gumede, Chief Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Mxolisi Majombozi, David Bopape, Robert Resha, Mama Albertina Sisulu, Lillian Ngoyi, Winnie Mandela, Gert Sibande, Harry Gwala, Chris Hani, Joe Gcabi, Anton Lembede, A.P. Mda, Solomon Mahlangu, the Silverton Trio, Peter Mokaba, Frans Mohlala, Lawrence Phokanoka, Castro Pilusa, Alpheus Malivha, Siphiwe Zuma, and many great heroes and heroines of our undefeated revolution. In honour and commemoration of these great leaders, we will fight side by side, throughout our lives, until we have won our total economic liberty. We will never accept defeat in our life time, never! We shall overcome - and victory is certain.
Issued by the ANC Youth League
Floyd Shivambu 082 819 9474