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Vol. 7 No. 1: 14 July 2011

Julius Malema

A brief response to the blown hot-air without alternatives by analysts, big-business and 'communists'

The African National Congress Youth League 24th National Congress happened exactly a month ago, and from what were commentaries and reactions from various sections of media since Congress confirms our characterisation that it was the biggest. When we opened the 24th National Congress, we made the bold remark that it was the biggest, not only in terms of the number of delegates in attendance, but with regards to the agenda it has set for the future of South Africa. The 24th National Congress made a clarion call to economic freedom fighters to intensify the battle for total economic, social and political emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular. From Congress, every section of South African society is trying to interpret and debate the outcomes of the 24th National Congress.

The 24th National Congress National Executive Committee is yet to have its first meeting to consolidate and confirm that the captured resolutions reflect what Congress mandated the elected leadership to pursue until June 2014. Nevertheless, sections of society from the right and questionable left political spectrum have in their numbers and with aggression responded to resolutions which are still going to be released for official engagement by everyone. Almost all media channels ran huge and substantial analyses of our congress and dedicated pages and pages trying to understand the agenda for economic freedom in our lifetime. In the process of doing so, sections of the media, analysts, right-wing propagandists, big-business and the questionable left casted aspersions, made alarmist remarks, spread lies and conspiracies and in most cases became petty and lost focus. We are sorry to say that all the anger and aggression expressed in various newspaper analyses, reports and speculations signified nothing, because all of them offered no alternatives to the agenda for real economic transformation.

Organised business attempted to intimidate all of us by threatening South Africa with disinvestments like they did in 1994, the questionable left forces blew lots of hot air, and those who led ANC and government policies that failed to transfer wealth wrote waffling analysis, and still we neither understand, nor hear what they are saying. The ANC Youth League deliberately kept quite after Congress on almost all policy positions adopted by Congress, now only accessible through a minute summary in the Congress declaration. We patiently and attentively listened to what Business said, to what the SACP said, to what some leaders in the ANC said, but we still cannot hear any alternative to the programme for economic freedom in our lifetime.

All we hear from all these forces is that they are opposed to nationalisation of Mines and expropriation without compensation, but we do not hear the alternatives to nationalisation because all of us agree that the status quo is not an option. As things stand, wealth is concentrated in very few hands of those empowered by the racist, murderous apartheid regime. As things stand, land is still owned by descendants of settlers who violently and murderously stole from our forefathers. As things stand, an absolute majority of African youth are living in absolute poverty, starvation and hopelessness. As things stand, white domination over the black majority and Africans in particular is still a reality due to massive economic and racialised inequalities. The status quo is not an option, and the ANC Youth League has a political and economic programme to address these challenges. What are the analysts, big-business, communists, and neo-liberal sycophants saying should be the alternative?

The programme of action for economic freedom in our lifetime, which the 24th National Congress adopted, says the State should play a central and leading role in ownership and control of strategic sectors of the economy, in particular land and mineral wealth. The programme says such can only happen when we put in place legislative mechanisms in a democratic society, which will empower the State to expropriate without compensation for public interest and public purpose. The programme says we should decentralise economic development and create new industries and therefore cities through well funded and maintained Industrial Development Zones. The programme says we should provide free education for poor, and take a minimum of 10 000 students to outside the country every year to equip them with skills for minerals' extraction, beneficiation and industrialisation and for successful land usage and agriculture for the land that will be expropriated.

What we expect from the South African society on these issues and many others, is a thorough and well-informed engagement, which should offer alternatives to what we are proposing. If the suspicion of the Communist Party for instance, is that we are calling for nationalisation in order to bail out black mining elites, the Party carries an obligation to propose to us a model which will not bail out black mining elites and see if we will disagree. If business feels nationalisation of Mines and expropriation without compensation will scare investors, they should propose how best does the State take ownership and control of its strategic sectors of the economy and still find a role for the private sector to productively and profitably play.

The interventions and reflections of COSATU raised the bar and begun to identify monopoly industries and other strategic sectors of the economy that should be under State ownership and control. What is more relieving about COSATU's posture on the question of Nationalisation of Mines is that they are playing the ball and not the man. Workers who gathered in Gallagher Convention for the Central Committee two weeks refused to be agitated against nationalisation of Mines by the SACP General Secretary who in his ill-informed, shallow, and lacking address to the COSATU meeting tried to mobilise against the ANC Youth League's 24th National Congress' outcomes. As we said before, the youth/workers alliance in progressive revolutions will never be undermined.

These are the kind of issues we expect society to engage and enrich us on. What we have seen thus far are angry, suspicious and very agitated business people, communists and analysts full of fury, yet signifying nothing. We have not heard what they are saying because they have no alternatives and proposals on how the country moves forward. As a fearless organisation, vanguard of the working class and militant organisation of the youth of the ANC, the ANC Youth League will over the next few weeks, be engaging with organised business, labour, communists, communities, churches about the outcomes of our 24th National Congress. Perhaps from these forums we will hear and understand what is being said, since thus far lots of hot air was blown and we have not been told any alternative.

Signature

Julius Malema

PRESIDENT: ANCYL

VIEWPOINT: *Bayanda Mzoneli

I choose the demagogues, for now

I read with interest, the speech by Cde Blade Nzimande, the SACP General Secretary, to the Central Committee of COSATU. As always, I was interested in how the vanguard of the working class will inspire hope among millions of unemployed youth and casualised workers. I had also read the text of the Political Report to the 2nd Special National Congress of the SACP held in December 2009 for the same reasons a few years ago.

I do not have paid membership of the SACP and my Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) membership expired about 4 years ago, but I remain committed to the struggle for socialism because I believe capitalism is a crime which is a source of all problems in society.

Among other things, the SACP 2nd Special National Congress Political Report did two things.

First it was to critically analyse the ANCYL or at least a grouping with the ANCYL. The conclusion of that analysis was that;

"None of this means that we should simply abandon those involved in this tentative class-axis - the buffoonery is a source of increasing embarrassment to their current or erstwhile patrons and we should work to win over those BEE elements who have been tempted to explore this dangerous and ultimately self-defeating project. Likewise, the great majority of young militants who have flirted with this style of long nights of long knives in bottom-baring conferences, with symbolic coffins for rivals, are not beyond constructive engagement. However, it is only a principled and broad-based worker hegemony that can reconfigure these forces into a progressive project."

At the time of the 2nd Special National Congress, I had noticed that the ANCYL pronouncements were taking from some of the earlier positions of the YCLSA, particularly what had earlier came to be known as the 10 Youth Demands around which the YCLSA mobilised in the aftermath of its re-establishment. The 10 Youth Demands were re-affirmed by the YCLSA at the Mokopane National Policy Conference as the"10 Youth Demands for 2015" that are consistent with the Freedom Charter. They include;

  • Decent jobs and a living wage for all workers including young workers and learners;
  • Extension of child support grants to cover young people up to the age of 18 years;
  • Nationalisation of all land for productive economic use by landless communities targeting jobless young people;
  • Public ownership of all mineral wealth;
  • Free education for all from pre - school to tertiary education level and
  • The extension of school feeding scheme to high schools

In realising the convergence, the YCLSA, went as far as explicitly welcoming the support of their ally, the ANCYL, in the campaign for distribution of sanitary towels to the working-class women. The welcoming message was expressed in the media statement on 29 February 2009, 10 months before the SACP 2nd Special National Congress.

Let me hasten to add that, as a united force, the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), which includes SASCO, YCLSA and ANCYL, has scored a lot of successes regarding some of their demands. The successes include what is now government policy including that;

  • child support grants be extended to cover young people up to the age of 18 years;
  • provision of free education for the poor from pre - school to Grade 12 plus free education for the poor but academically deserving at tertiary education level;
  • school feeding scheme be extended to high schools and
  • the provision of sanitary towels to poor women.

Even though I was not sure about the accuracy of the characterisation of the ANCYL or a grouping within it by the Political Report, I was pleased that the Report concluded that, "it is only a principled and broad-based worker hegemony that can reconfigure these forces into a progressive project" which meant the vanguard of the working-class intended to continue leading the left struggle against the violence of poverty and mobilise all the left forces behind it.

However, the SACP Message to the COSATU CC at the end of June 2011 does not communicate the message that the "buffoonery" is "not beyond constructive engagement" as suggested in the December 2009 Political Report. One can conclude that the "buffoonery" was engaged and the engagement was unfruitful or that the Political Report was wrong as the "buffoonery" may have been beyond engagement anyway.

Instead the SACP Message to the COSATU CC makes a more or less the same analysis of the ANCYL or a grouping within it as the SACP 2nd Special National Congress Political Report had done. However, the Message to COSATU CC concludes with that, "... the SACP has identified and characterized both the broader 'new tendency' and its demagogic, shock-trooper 'vanguard' as the most immediate threat to the national democratic revolution." The Message to COSATU CC does not suggest what needs to be done about this "demagogy" that represents "the most immediate threat to the national democratic revolution."

Both the December 2009 Political Report and the June 2011 Message to the COSATU CC use the same theme to analyse the ANCYL or at least a grouping within the ANCYL. The analysis includes labels such as ultra-left, new tendency, proto-fascist, buffoonery, demagogues, tenderprenuership and so on.

The second thing the SACP 2nd Special National Congress Political Report did was to critically analyse what is now called the Democratic Left Front (DLF) or at least its variant. In the conclusion of the assessment of this grouping, the report said;

"Even more disturbing is that some within our own ranks treat this tendency as if it is part of a healthy and democratic debate within the SACP, thus unwittingly strengthening its destructive behaviour inside the SACP. Building the unity of the SACP does not mean toleration of entryists, but instead requires that we isolate and defeat this anti-SACP tendency!"

The DLF had been earlier known as Congress or Coalition of the Democratic Left. It is constituted, among others, by some of the people who had been expelled from the SACP or YCLSA in the recent years. But it also consists of small issue based NGOs and civil society organisations. What brings them together is their intention to set the left agenda for South Africa, meaning that some of them do not see the SACP inspiring hope with regard to issues that they believe should be contained in that agenda. Some of their views can be read in a Bi-monthly publication called Amandla, as some of them contribute regularly to it.

Both the December 2009 Political Report and the June 2011 Message to the COSATU CC close the debate on the SACP relationship to state power, which is one of the issues that make some in the DLF to gravitate away from the SACP. In this regard the December 2009 Political Report associated continuing the debate with the elements in the Democratic Left Front and suggested they should be isolated. Having isolated those elements from SACP, the June 2011 Message to COSATU CC explicitly says, "Therefore, we wish to state categorically that the decisions of the SACP on the deployment of its cadres, is a now a CLOSED matter. None of us dare raise this matter in public, as this can only play into the agenda of the bourgeois media."

I still believe the SACP is the only viable vanguard of the working-class that will lead us to a socialist South Africa. However, I doubt this can be achieved, among others, by alienating certain sections of society, particularly those among the working class and the poor.

Indeed, it may serve some purpose, in the short-term, to dismiss the Democratic Left Front as ultra-leftists who may have had a hard time with the discipline in the SACP. However, in a long term, various leftist issue-based organisations are finding warmth in the coalition that the Democratic Left Front is sewing together. If you call a gathering of civil society organisations today, more than half of them are likely to be part of the DLF.

On the other hand, the 24th National Congress of the ANCYL was attended by more than 5000 delegates from branches across the country. It is neither helpful nor unitary to label their resolutions as "populism" or "demagogy."

The SACP needs to do more than label groupings to the left of itself (ultra-left) to build hegemony among the youth and society in general. By labelling and isolating the groupings to its left, it runs the risk of isolating and alienating itself. This approach seems inconsistent with the Party that has a "relatively mass character" with a "vanguard role." This should mean the SACP wins over these section of society and guides them in the socialists struggle.

Indeed the SACP Medium-Term Vision (MTV) adopted at the 1st Special National Congress in April 2005 at Durban directed that by the end of the 2nd decade of freedom the SACP should have influence it all key sites of power, including the state. But the same Special National Congress noted in its Declaration that,

"... our society continues to be dominated by a brutal and inhumane capitalist accumulation regime. It is an accumulation path that has remained fundamentally untransformed, notwithstanding our democratic breakthrough. Indeed this accumulation regime has seen a significant and ongoing growth in the relative share of GDP going to the (capitalist) bosses, and a declining share going to the working class."

The SACP should be careful not to embed itself in the state politics to the extent that its vision becomes indistinguishable to that of the ANC or government. That the NDR is the most direct route to socialism does not mean the vision of the ANC or that of government is socialism. The MTV does not end with the influence in the state as a key site of power, it is expected that the "capitalist accumulation regime" that the Special Congress Declaration spoke of, changes especially in the aftermath of global economic recession.

I still have faith in the SACP that it will not assist in rebuilding capitalism in South Africa following its collapse internationally during the global economic recession. In the meantime, I will support expropriation without compensation for industrialisation and agrarian reform. I will support free education both in terms of costs and its contents which currently remains unfree, held hostage by capitalist ideology. If demagogues unsettle white monopoly capital in the mining and agriculture sector, then they must be doing something right. I will be with them for now, until the SACP sets an accumulation Path that differs from "this accumulation regime [that] has seen a significant and ongoing growth in the relative share of GDP going to the (capitalist) bosses, and a declining share going to the working class."

Bayanda Mzoneli is a member of the ANCYL at Ward 23, North Coast Region, KwaZulu-Natal

VIEWPOINT: *Isaac Mahlangu

Economic Freedom Fighters, Unite!

The 24th National Congress of the ANC Youth League held at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Johannesburg, has come and gone with massive reverberations for the national policy discourse.

Whilst many commentators focused on the outcomes of the Congress in terms of the elections of its leadership, some have correctly seen its resolutions on the economy as among its major contribution.

The term 'economic freedom fighters' is now clearly being popularized as a clarion call for this generation of youth who have declared their preparedness to lead a battle for 'economic freedom in our lifetime'.

Taking place against the backdrop of the 35th year commemorations of Soweto June 16, 1976, the ANC Youth League Congress' resolutions reflected a maturing organization that can deeply engaged with the broader societal challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality that continue to plague our society. Even more telling is a strict adherence to the doctrine that the ANC Youth League is a discipline force of the left youth.

Economic policy discussions in the country, mostly neo-liberal and some centre leftist, in recent times have tended to focus on the appropriate response to the impact of the global economic crisis, and the subsequent local recession, that not only led to a contraction in production from late 2008 but a massive decline of a million jobs in 2009.

Government's contribution to the policy debates has been through the formulation of the 'The New Growth Path' (NGP) which was unveiled in October of 2010. The "New Growth Path" is accordingly recognized as a response by government to implement a more deliberate set of measures to create jobs and address structural weaknesses in our economy. This arises from recognition that government needs to do more to address poverty and inequality through changing the patterns of wealth accumulation and concentration in our country. To what extend does the NGP take forward the ANC's Polokwane resolutions on economic transformation?

Other social partners have also contributed to the debates, with COSATU releasing its ""A GROWTH PATH TOWARDS FULL EMPLOYMENT" document in September 2010 and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) publishing in December 2010 the "PERSPECTIVES ON AN INCLUSIVE HIGHER JOB-RICH GROWTH PATH 2025".

The ANC Youth League resolutions on the economy have to be understood as a courageous lead to also play a part in these debates. It makes little sense for individuals to be dismissive of the League's efforts when other formations have also had their say. Perhaps it is because of the assertion by the ANC Youth League that monopoly capital is the enemy of both the socialist revolution and the national democratic revolution, or, as David Masondo aptly puts it "Towards the 2012 ANC elective congress, business will also support members and leaders of the ANC to fight against the league's economic resolutions on nationalization".

The Youth League resolutions prioritize what is referred to as the "7 cardinal pillars":

  1. Expropriation without compensation
  2. Nationalisation for industrialization
  3. Inclusive and Decentralised Economic Growth and Development
  4. Land restitution and agrarian reform
  5. Building a strong developmental state and public service
  6. Massive investment in the African economy
  7. Provision of education, skills and expertise to the people

What is common to the NGP, the COSATU document and the ANCYL resolutions is a steadfast belief in the potential greater role of a developmental state in steering this country towards more prosperity, decent work and reduced inequality.

The COSATU document also argues that "for this growth and development path to be successful there needs to be a change in the patterns of ownership, so that the democratic state has leverage to drive social and economic development in a particular direction".

On the other hand Business is dismissive of a greater role for the state, calls for a disciplined macroeconomic approach (a low budget deficit GDP ratio and higher interest rates?) and amongst other things, 'strategic wage-setting'.

It is sad that the local business community is not appreciative of the paradigm shift that has taken place in the policy discourse globally on the role of the state since the financial crisis.

The Youth League has presented a fairly deliverable and workable 'New Growth Model' (NGM) that should be considered on its own merit. There may be elements of the policy prescriptions that are not palatable to certain quarters in our society but the key questions should be whether they can advance all of us towards a better life rather than whether they are fashionable or not.

Another way to consider the relevance of the Youth League resolutions is to ponder whether they are a useful approach to the problem of youth unemployment.
Clearly the problem of youth unemployment would have been at the uppermost of the minds of the delegates at Gallagher Estate.

It is commonly accepted that unemployment affects some sections of the labour force more than others with Africans, youth, women and rural labour market participants being often worse off than others.

Even as the economy began to recover in 2010, the second Quarterly Labour Force Survey revealed the stark and unfortunate labour market outcomes facing the youth. Close to 73% of the unemployed were youth between the ages 15 and 34. 1.4million (32.4%) of the unemployed were youth aged between 15 and 24, whilst 1.73 million (40%) were aged between 25 and 34 years.

Various government leaders and members of civil society have talked at length about a looming crisis and potential social upheaval in light of these trends.

It is not just merely about the statistics, as in the words of Sharan Burrow, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, 'this is a question of human dignity, that people can have jobs to support themselves and their family and to have jobs with meaningful work'.

In the light of these challenges it is then appropriate to examine the proposed response from the Youth League.

It is a response that clearly asks that society accepts the need to adopt bolder measures that are aimed at changing the structure of the South African economy in a manner that provides for a more competitive and inclusive job creating growth model.

Expropriation without compensation and nationalization for industrialization are policy measures that have the potential to change the structure of the economy in a manner that enhances economic opportunity and can benefit the youth.

Inclusive and decentralized Economic Growth and Development can be an important part of a strategy to address the spatial development path that we inherited from apartheid. Youth across the country, not only those who are urban based should benefit from the mainstream economy.

Land restitution and agrarian reform feature prominently because we know that many of the poor are to be found in rural areas whilst such measures will ensure that we grow the agricultural sector whilst providing much needed access to food security.

Building a strong developmental state and public service shall ascertain that we have the adequate state machinery that can lead development. Appropriate incentives will need to be built-in to ensure we fight corruption and inefficiency.

Massive investment in the African economy is a common theme in all the policy documents that are presented thus far and will lead to higher incomes and greater demand for goods and services on the continent.

Provision of education, skills and expertise to the people can be a way to capacitate and empower young people also so that school-to-work transitions are smoother.

This short summary above shows a Youth League that is far-sighted on resolving the challenges of its constituency- young people across the country.

The days of 'more of the same debates' in our policy direction despite our immense challenges are surely over now that the economic freedom fighters have arrived. They disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that theirs is a cause to be attained by forcible overthrow of the existing conditions. Let the happy class, the enemy class, tremble at this spectre. The economic freedom fighters have a country to win. A winning country with a courageous and fearless leadership. A leadership bred and steeped deeply in the norms of the ANC.

Cde Isaac Mahlangu is an immediate past provincial secretary of the ANC Youth League in Mpumalanga Province. Writes in personal capacity.