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History will absolve the ANC Youth League - reflections on the disciplinary hearing

21 November 2011

Throughout its history, the African National Congress has always sought to build its cadres and hone the movement into a formidable organisation with the responsibility and obligation to liberate blacks in general and Africans in particular from political, social and economic bondage. In fulfilling these responsibilities, the ANC understood that the unity of the politically oppressed and economically exploited majority is paramount. The ANC thrived in difficult times for close to 100 years, because it tolerated divergent views, perspectives and approaches to be tested within organisational structures and taken as official positions once there is consensus.

It looks like this vital feature of the ANC has been eroded and replaced with some sense of insecurity, intolerance and impatience by the leadership collective. The recently announced disciplinary action verdict of the ANC against the leadership of the ANC YL confirms that the culture of tolerance and calculated patience of the ANC is eroded. As we publicly stated, the outcomes of the NDC were pre-meditated and influenced by political dynamics than what the ANC Constitution says about discipline. It is still a shock that I was convicted on a statement of the ANC YL National Executive Committee, which I did not read, but responded to questions by virtue of my position as President of the ANC YL.

Our conviction happened arbitrarily because the issues we raised on the statement of the ANC Youth League were political issues that needed to be engaged with the leadership of the ANC and as we said on several occasions, we are willing to have political engagements and guidance from the leadership of the ANC. The leadership of the ANC chose to take the disciplinary route and neglected the political responsibility and obligation to guide the ANC Youth League. The ANC Youth League believes that various factors contributed to the manner in which the ANC handled the disciplinary case issue. Amongst these is the fear of change, which is characteristic of not only older generations in the ANC, but older people across political parties who choose to conserve truths of the past.

The ANC Youth League is at the forefront of challenging the status quo with regards to the economy of South Africa, particularly as it relates to who owns and controls the economy. The South African racist society has somewhat inflicted the belief and conviction amongst older comrades to believe that what is today will be forever concerning the control and ownership of the economy. Any voice that contradicts the status quo is vulgarised, banished and treated with disdain because the interests of the ruling class are threatened. This has defined how media has related to the ANC Youth League leadership and to a certain extent influenced the leadership of the ANC and government into a believing that the ANC YL is a problem.

Another factor that has led us to this situation is the reality that the ANC Youth League has more attention in South Africa, Africa and the continent than any political institution or individuals. This has led to the leadership feeling like they are being outshined by the ANC YL on critical policy issues that have thus far been raised in the public discourse. As a way of trying to dim and shift the spotlight on critical policy issues, a suspension is unleashed on the leadership of the ANC Youth League with the hope that such an approach will prevail. The spotlight on the ANC YL will never disappear because the Youth League is raising critical and relevant issues that require society`s attention and guidance. Attempts to remove individuals from the ANC YL will not help address the fundamental issues that are currently on the table, including the threat Botswana poses to the African continent.

There also exists a possibility that certain leaders of the ANC are unsure about the 2012 53rd National Conference of the ANC in Mangaung. The 53rd National Conference is going to radicalise the ANC in many fronts, but fundamentally on radical policy positions and postures. The ANC will inevitably change its approach and policies to the transformation of the ANC, and that is not because of few individuals in the ANC Youth League. Those who know what happened at the ANC National General Council will attest to the fact that there are growing resounding voices calling for change in the African National Congress with regards to the economy. Nationalisation of Mines and expropriation of land without compensation will be policy outcomes of the ANC 53rd National Conference. The leadership that will be elected there will show features of generational mix. These issues will happen whether some individuals exist or not.

What the ANC Youth League is calling for is political leadership and guidance from the ANC, and we are always willing to abide by its guidance. Banishments are never a solution to the problems society is facing and as comrades, we need to close ranks and confront the enemy together. Radical policy shifts will need a very strong ground and bases of our people ready to suffer the period of change because change is pain. The ANC we know is a loving and caring organisation and we now more than ever before, need the love and care of the ANC of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many heroes and heroines of the struggle. We should soldier on in unison because victory is certain.

Julius Malema-ANC YL President