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Address by the Deputy President of the African National Congress (ANC) Kgalema Motlanthe at the closing of the 24th African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) Conference

19 June 2011

Programme Director;
President of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL);
The National Executive Committee of the ANCYL;
Members of the ANC National Executive Committee;
Representatives of the ANC Women’s and Veterans’ Leagues;
Representation of MDM structures;
Delegates;
Comrades:

Thank you for the invitation to address the closing session of this 24th national conference of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).

Let me begin by congratulating you on hosting this conference with befitting dignity and discipline expected of the Youth League of the ANC.

Just 3 days ago, we celebrated youth day, the day that marks the commemoration of the 1976 June 16 defiance of the apartheid state by thousands of the South African youth determined to define their own destiny.

This period will remain deeply etched in our historical consciousness because it helped elevate the liberation struggle to another level.

Because this conference started on June 16, the symbolism is indeed massive.

Necessarily, one can make the case that the leadership that has come out of this conference has to continue where the youth of June 76 left off.

In substance, the set of challenges that faced the youths of both generations is evidently different.

While the energies of the June 76 generation were consumed by the urge to be free from apartheid oppression, the primary object of the post-94 youth is, of necessity, the task of achieving a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

Be that as it may, June is, metaphorically, the season during which the past generation hands over the baton to the new generation that is gathering to elect the new leadership in this place today.

Comrades,

Let me therefore take this opportunity to thank the outgoing leadership for their sterling work in the past 5-years.

In saying this I must also remind you that your work is not done yet.

Leadership in the ANC does not end with elective term of office.

Leadership in the ANC is culture.

It is our duty to provide leadership to society, through our involvement in community affairs, through our exemplary behaviour, through our contributions to society in every imaginable form.

Leadership does not only happen in elective structures but also, through convincing communities to share in the vision and mission of the ANC.

So the outgoing leadership must go back to their communities and be ready for redeployment to continue with the task of serving our people.

Similarly, I wish to congratulate those who have been elected to the new National Executive Committee and to also ask them to take forward the mandate provided by the delegates with dedication, diligence, youthful energy and discipline.

The responsibility they are charged with going forward is not confined to the office but also extends to their activities as individuals outside the organisation.

Part of this responsibility is the need to understand that you are expected to provide leadership to all members of the organisation, including those who did not vote for you.

Elective conferences are not about outmuscling each other in a show of force but a means of strengthening the organisation through democratic engagement.

Another important point to remember as we begin with the historical task of leading the ANCYL is the realisation that as an organisation we are defined by the principle of unity.

Therefore the immediate challenge for any new leadership that emerges out of an elective conference is to go back to the structures of the organisation to instil a sense of unity and discipline.

This includes taking a conscious decision to address some of the grievances that may have arisen leading up to the conference.

This way the organisation with confidence, unencumbered by diversions and distractions that often occasion disunity and fragmentation of vision. Programme director,

As it turned out, today, June 19, marks a very important day in our country’s history.

On this day on 19 June 1913 the South African government passed the 1913 Land Act, which dispossessed Africans of 77% of the land.

The loss of land meant all other resources relating to land such as livestock, seeds, were also no longer accessible, thus snuffing out the only means Africans had to fend for themselves.

As history shows the 1913 Land Act had devastating consequences which still show in current economic patterns today.

It is indeed impossible to reflect on the effects of colonial dispossession of Africans without reference to this historical development.

This historical background has informed the ANC’s approach to the question of land restitution all along.

As we approach the centenary of the 1913 Land Act in 2013, we need to have some meaningful debates about acceleration of land restitution, within our constitutional framework.

These and related challenges that define the history of oppression are matters which I hope the ANC will adequately address as we move towards 2013.

Comrades,

It is common knowledge that the most pressing challenge that confronts South African Youth is unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Our common challenge therefore is to make sure that South Africa reverses these income inequalities, creates conditions that offer opportunities for all our people and grows the economy to secure livelihoods, especially for the youth.

On this account one of your critical tasks is to work with your mother body, the ANC, to help it achieve its strategic vision; that of a united, democratic, non-racial- non-sexist and prosperous South Africa. Among others, one of our immediate tasks is to strengthen our efforts at uniting all our people behind a common vision of a non-racial, just and prosperous society.

While it is an ongoing task, the non-racial society we seek to build is a reality that must gain ascendancy now. We must not lull ourselves into thinking that this question will resolve itself sometime in the future.

Interestingly, this is a challenge the youth of our country, who are in reality our future, must begin to grapple with due dedication in everyday outlook.

Building a non-racial society that is prosperous and equal is indeed a task that continues to exact a great deal of effort on all of us who are agents for change.

To this end we must together work to build a developmental state with institutional capacity to development and implement policy geared towards the achievement of this stated goal.

To build such as developmental state will require us to work together to implement the new growth path, boast job-creation, improving the quality of education, increasing the skills base, enhancing trade, as well as pay particular attention fixed investment in local beneficiation of our mineral resources.

Along the way as we move forward, here and there we are likely to see or understand things in a different way. However, that should not be a reason to despair or further drive a wedge between us.

We should rather see such divergence of minds as a form of strength that allows us to draw from many strands of thought to enrich the view that will carry the day.

As you begin to discharge your responsibility as the new leadership of the ANCYL, I am confident that you will do so with the best interest of the ANCYL, the ANC and South Africa as a whole, at heart.

I trust that you will focus on your mandate with agility, helping our country advance towards its defined destination of a better life for all our people.

While it is an honour to be entrusted with the responsibility to lead any part of our movement, the irony is that this is an onerous, demanding and indeed, intimidating task.

This task is made all the more heavy by the realisation that we are stepping inWe are cast in the same historical roles as comrades Nelson Mandela, O.R. Tambo, John Langalibalele Dube and Walter Sisulu, among others.

It is a historical test we try by all means not to fail.

On that note I would like to thank you once again for hosting this conference with the gravitas it deserves and wish you well in your new responsibilities.

I thank you

Issued by the ANC Youth League