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Vol. 8 No. 2: 14 - 21 September 2012

Ronald Lamola

The ANCYL has always been foremost Champion for change since 1944!

"The future belongs to the youth, and the youth need the ANC to exist beyond the current generation of ANC leaders hence we must never leave the future of our organisation to chance. As the ANCYL, we must be guided by the twin tasks of championing youth interests and mobilising them behind the historic vision of the ANC. But we must not end there, we must also emulate the 1944 generation and ensure that the ANC to which we bring in young people is consistent with the progressive agenda that it must be."

On the 10th September 2012 we commemorated the 68th Anniversary of the ANCYL and we took that occasion to note that this youth organisation has always been a force for change in the ANC since its formation 68 years ago at the Bantu Men Social Centre in Johannesburg.

On the occasion of celebrating the 68th Anniversary of the ANC Youth League, it is opportune that we appreciate the chronological events leading to the formation of this illustrious youth organisation and its historical evolution into where we are today.

It is important that while we draw inspiration from the 1944 youth generation that founded the ANC Youth League, we also consciously appreciate the differing environments both nationally and internationally that either may enable certain political possibilities or impede them. There is no doubt that we are today in a world drastically different from the one that inspired the conversation that Nelson Mandela and Mxolisi Majmbozi had on one train trip about the need to form a Congress Youth League as youth wing of the African National Congress.

The setting was the rise of fascism in Germany that had resulted in the Second World War. This fascism had in turn inspired Afrikaners in South Africa, who saw the Union of South Africa government not enough to aid their racist agenda.

Decade after decade following the founding of the ANC in 1912, the methods of struggle seemed to bear no meaningful fruits, instead racial oppression was intensified amongst others through the 1913 Land Act and a myriad of other colonial laws that restricted the movement and role of Africans in the land of their birth and its economy.

But how did formation of the ANC Youth League come about?

Historical facts point to the fact that the ANCYL has since 1944 been a force for change both within the ANC and in society at large. The 10th of September 1944 saw members of the ANCYL gathering at the Bantumen Social Centre for the launch of the Congress Youth League as a youth wing of the ANC.

It was a group of young professionals who had militant and radical ideas in terms of how the struggle for the liberation of the African people should be prosecuted as elaborated in the 1944 ANCYL Manifesto and later the 1948 Basic Policy Document. Their generational mission was "freedom in our lifetime!", a slogan that inspired that current slogan "Economic freedom in our lifetime!"

Before the formation of the ANCYL, this group of young minds had to convince structures of the ANC about the necessity to form the ANCYL. They approached the then President of the ANC Dr AB Xuma to lobby him about the formation of the ANCYL. Dr Xuma reluctantly agreed after noting the radicalism of the young leaders such as AP Mda, Nelson Mandela, Anton Lembede, OR Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many others.

The ANC took a resolution in 1942 on the formation of the ANCYL, a decision which was further ratified in the 1943 National Conference. Dr AB Xuma agreed on the basis that the ANC needed to be injected with new energy and strategies from the young cadres.

The 1944 generation made it their duty to transform the ANC from being and organization of gentlemen with clean hands to be a mass radical organization of the people who could not avoid the tedious and laborious work of mass mobilisation. They adopted a radical program of action in 1948 and lobbied structures of the ANC to make their program an ANC program.

They again approached Dr AB Xuma to lobby him to support their program as they knew that it would be easy for their program to be accepted in the ANC if supported by the President.

It should be noted that the young cadres had grown tired of the too respectful deputations and letters to the colonial authorities and the British Crown. A conciliatory form of struggle that seemed to beg for leniency as a form of revolution was being conducted by the ANC leadership. Some of the letters written at the time would start by praying on lord ship of the authorities, humble requesting and begging the indulgency and so forth of the oppressors.

Many structures of the ANC became more agitated and convinced that the only way to go was the Program of Action of the ANC Youth League when Jan Smuts rejected the 1943 African Claims which was a document mostly influenced by the Atlantic Charter of the United Nations. More and more Africans increasingly realised that the authorities were not sympathetic at all to the struggle of the African people.

It was at this point that the ANCYL drafted its basic policy document in 1948 in direct response to the more racial policies that the National Party government was advocating for. The mood and the stage was set for radical policies and a departure from the apologetic ways of conducting the struggle.

A new program of action that was to lead to people being arrested, prosecuted and jailed was drafted and put for congress. The famous Defiance Campaign was born and became a new landmark on the conduct of struggle against apartheid.

Dr AB Xuma did not agree with a program that would see him go to jail. Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Thambo visted him to lobby him on the Program of Action. He was angered by the fact that they told him that the Program of Action was to be the basis for his re-election. He felt the young leaders were blackmailing him, they were disrespectful and he showed them the door and that was the rapture between himself and the Youth League.

Perhaps this is a lesson that when the ANC leadership disagrees with the ANC Youth League leadership, they must not dare show them the door as an idea that would live must be left to the arbitration of democracy such as the National Conference platform.

In the 1949 National Conference, the Youth League succeeded to remove Dr AB Xuma and replaced him with Dr JS Moroka as President of the ANC. The young Walter Sisulu was elected Secretary General at the age of 37 years old and many other young leaders were elected into the National Executive Committee.

The Defiance Campaign program was polished and implemented. The Youth League won its first battle in the ANC. The influence of young leaders in the ANC through the ANCYL moved beyond 1949 as the youth was at the nerve centre of many campaigns of the ANC. The majority of MK soldiers were drawn from the ranks of young cadres.

Even after unbanning of the ANC, the youth without a proper political home continued to be a thorn to the government of the day. The 1976 Student Uprisings was a generational coupe by the youth of Soweto at the time, re-igniting the agenda of revolutionary struggle by giving it a much needed popular political impetus.

With rapid urbanisation taking place and many young people gaining access to education the youth were more politically conscious. They started the Soweto uprising and many parents were surprised and scared. Parents were ashamed of themselves that their own kids are taking the Apartheid government on and yet they as adults were still afraid. They had no choice but to support their children. The migrant workers who had just found jobs in JHB were angered by this youth who seemed to take food from their mouths. With the help of Apartheid agents violence broke out between the youth and the residents of Umzimhlophe hostel in Soweto. The table had turned for ever and the youth were now the driving force in the struggle for revolutionary change.

It was at this time that even the ANC in exile was awakened about the power of school-going children. They assisted efforts to coordinate these activities and it led to the formation of COSAS. Students in institutions of higher learning also heightened the struggle in the various campuses particularly Turfloop and Fort Hare.

The role of the youth in the struggle was now deeply entrenched. It was the a combination of the above factors that led to the then President of the ANC to announce in Radio Freedom that the youth of SA must render South Africa ungovernable.

The re-launch of the ANCYL in South Africa in 1991 brought together youths from exile and those from inside South Africa who were mainly from SAYCO. Then SASCO was launched unifying student organisations a institutions of higher learning while COSAS resolved to remain as an independent students' organisation that was to be in alliance progressive youth structures through a common vision of the Freedom Charter. The ANC Youth Desk operating in exile and SAYCO were in the forefront in working towards the re-launch of the ANC Youth League. There were debates on whether there must be a Youth League that is more autonomous from the ANC which was dominant view from those who had been members of SAYCO while those who had been in the ANC Youth Desk in exile wanted the Youth League to be a desk of the ANC solely responsible for the recruitment and politicisation of young people in the ANC.

The generation of the Youth League at the time led by Cde Peter Mokaba opposed the suspension of the Armed Struggle by the ANC and were very critical of the CODESA outcomes and felt that far too many concessions were being made at the negotiations.

Looking at the slow pace of economic transformation, that may vindicate a rethink on the Youth League of Peter Mokaba's correctness to contend that far too many concessions were made in CODESA. It is a debate ongoing about whether or not we made too many compromises that today entangles us against rapid transformation.

We are therefore persuaded to believe that the ANC leadership was pushed by both the international and national balance of forces to do so. Today we could be asking ourselves whether or not both the international and national balance of forces have not shifted in favour of forces for change the CODESA negotiations could not anticipate and hence its concessions should be reviewed.

It is our contention that the current Constitution must be amended to rid of the "Sunset Clause" to open the gates of economic freedom to all South Africans irrespective of race or gender.

The current generation's mission for economic freedom will not be achieved without amending section 25 of the constitution which has locked ways for economic redistribution and which is ensuring that economic Apartheid continue to reproduce itself even in a democratic society.

In conclusion, we must re-iterate that our world is much different from the world of 1944 when the ANC YL was formed. However, there are similarities. The differences are that the international and national balance of forces have since accorded our political liberation. The similarity is that economic marginalisation still remains defined by race and gender, by and large, inspite of whatever measures we have made to reverse the legacy of apartheid.

On this occasion as we commemorate the 68th Anniversary, we must take note that it happens on the same year that the ANC celebrate its milestone centenary. It is no longer a secret that the movement is faced with very serious challenges, amongst them that saw the unprecedented action to expel and suspend the leadership of the ANCYL by the ANC. Such is an occurrence that members of the organisation should be proud of and we must never pretend it is normal or proper.

We could not commemorate the 68th Anniversary and not make reflections of these realities, lest we betray the never die spirit of the 1944 ANCYL generation that formed the ANCYL amidst naked hostilities from the ANC leadership of Dr AB Xuma.

A lesson we could learn from the generation of 1944 is that we must define and determine our own future and that the kind of future we want will not be given on a platter.

There will be battles to be fought. In as much as Dr AB Xuma could not submit to the new trajectory pursued by the ANCYL, other current ANC leaders may not agree with the ANCYL slogan on "Economic Freedom in our lifetime" or on proposals such as those on the nationalisation of the mines.

We must strive to make Mangaung as watershed as the 1949 National Conference, by contesting what must become the outcomes of the discussions on both policy and leadership issues. We must take the bull by the horns if indeed we are to emulate or be inspired by the 1944 ANCYL generation.

The future belongs to the youth, and the youth need the ANC to exist beyond the current generation of ANC leaders hence we must never leave the future of our organisation of chance. As the ANCYL, we must be guided by the twin tasks of championing youth interests and mobilising them behind the historic vision of the ANC.

But we must not end there, we must also emulate the 1944 generation and ensure that the ANC to which we bring in young people is consistent with the progressive agenda that it must be.

Today the youth remain the largest sector of the unemployed and that makes our voice and role even more relevant. The agenda that we bring into the ANC must be youth inspired and biased towards ensuring that we drastically mainstream the development of young people in every sphere of our economy.

Young people cannot sit back and expect to be recipient of the fruits of liberation but must become their own liberators, that much we learn from the generation of 1944.

The youth of South Africa must never surrender in the struggle for economic freedom as some of the elders have accepted that things will never change, the status quo will remain.

The chronological events around the formation of the ANCYL that we have narrated above help highlight that today's generation has the responsibility to curve its own future and we have decidedly said it is "Economic freedom in our lifetime!"

Ronald Lamola
Deputy President: ANCYL

 
VIEWPOINT: *Khusela Sangoni-Khawe

Khusela Sangoni-Khawe

Why Marikana miners show NUM middle finger!

"The recent events at Marikana, and the declaration of the National Union of Mineworkers as "persona non grata" must be a wake-up call to the mass democratic movement, particularly the ANC led Alliance. Marikana is one of the sternest messages as yet that we could have a Normandy on our shores. The challenge is that of us as a liberation movement providing leadership at every social and economic sphere as guided by the Strategy and Tactics and the various policy positions we have adopted at National Conference".

The Battle of Normandy, that decisively ended the Second World War, like many other major socio-political events such as the Storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution and the 1918 October Revolution in Russia, provide lessons on how revolutions may succeed or fail.

Certain events may seem to be sporadic and without any meaning beyond the time and space of their occurrence, while some may trigger enduring implications, such as the June 16 Student Uprisings in 1976. The tragedy in Marikana continues to be in our minds and the consequences will endure even longer with the families that lost their loved ones as well as bread winners. We dare not treat such a tragedy as mere statistics that sum up to 34 miners dead killed by Police because our Constitution enjoins us to value life as an inalienable right. Statistically we know that 10 more people had already been killed prior to the fateful police shooting.

Amongst those were 8 workers and two police officers. But to the families of all those who lost their loved ones, these statistics have names and void resulting from their untimely death will never be filled.

We point out to history to learn about what seem to be a repeat of past events in slightly different form, because some are quick to dismiss such major events as passing parades of no consequence, when in fact if carefully deciphered, we could learn that such could actually become trigger for a bigger end as June 16 did in our country. As a revolutionary movement, we must continue to pose the questions critically and honestly on whether or not we are one with the people we claim to lead. Questions could abound as to where were the ANC branches when service delivery protests simmered into violent protests over such a long period? Where was the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM) when the Marikana tragedy unfolded? Where was the South African Communist Party when the mine workers rejected organised labour unions in general and the NUM in particular?

Hitler may have been the ultimate tyrant to the course of a humane world as envisioned so from the lessons of the First World War. The League of Nations was established in 1918 as a commitment to the values of international peace, security and stability, a vision that Hitler shredded with impunity as he pursued his fascist vision aimed at controlling the whole world until he was stopped by the combined will of the world's people led by the Allied Forces.

Various accounts as to why an otherwise superbly armed Nazi Germany was defeated are made, amongst them are the combined sheer numbers of the Allied Forces marines and military hardware on the one hand, and the extensive intelligence work that saw the codification of various assaults and the employment of various decoys. Even the main assault on Normandy on June 5, 1944 was presented as a decoy when it was the main battle. Still some point to the view that Hitler's men were war weary and old. Still more could point out that some were actually recruits from the Prisoners of wars that Germany had captured, who then surrendered to the Allied Forces at the earliest opportunity during confrontation and were therefore unreliable.

But some could point out that Hitler was actually asleep at the most crucial point in the Normandy battle and could not exercise the sole powers he had arrogated to himself to deploy the infamous Panzer units to confront the Allied Forces early upon their landing at Normandy. Even when alarm bells were relayed to Hitler, his staff were reluctant to wake him from his slumber, probably an attitude generally displayed to a typical dictator.

No doubt Hitler remains one of the most disdained villains of the last millennia, however, the prowess of his military strategies and the circumstances leading to his downfall provide lessons on how to successfully or unsuccessfully conduct a strategy, such as the revolutionary strategy led by the ANC.

Even Hitler's under deployment of the Panzer along the Normandy beach which was against the advice of Rommel was an indication of a leader who relied on distorted information because he was far removed from the battle grounds. Despite his famous battle heroics, Hitler was making mistakes that were to cost him dearly in the ensuing Second World War, mistakes aggravated by his dictatorial tendencies of micro managing every major aspect of the war, including the strategic deployment of troops on the ground.

As the tides of service delivery protests against government and strike actions by mining workers continue, we should be asking ourselves the crucial question if indeed we are not facing our own Normandy. No doubt there are limited resources at the Local Government sphere, but it seems much of the trouble emanates from the amongst others rampant corruption and inefficiency.

Complicating the challenge is whether or not ANC structures on the ground are one with the people, so that the limitation of resources and their priority deployment is appreciated by members of the local communities.

The recent events at Marikana, and the declaration of the National Union of Mineworkers as "persona non grata" must be a wake-up call to the mass democratic movement, particularly the ANC led Alliance. Marikana in one of the sternest messages as yet that we could have a Normandy on our shores. The challenge is that of us as a liberation movement providing leadership at every social and economic sphere as guided by the Strategy and Tactics and the various policy positions we have adopted at National Conference.

However, it seems the continued propaganda bombardment by the political opposition and the complicity of an apparently slumbering leadership has brought us to Marikana. In this decisive moment, we must have the guts to awaken the leadership and not be as reluctant as the staff who could not wake up Hitler amidst the ensuing battle of Normandy. They had good reason, because Hitler was a dictator, whose pedigree was later to cause the early retirement of his trusted and most able general Von Rundstedt because he dared tell him the truth when he declared "Make peace, you idiots!" Literally, our leadership may not be asleep like Hitler, but the denial of a persistent problem may have equal effect.

The National Democratic Revolution is far from being lost and there is no doubt about it. However, complacency with power may mean we dismiss service delivery protests, Marikana and other such events as of no consequence to our outlook as a liberation movement. While it is true that a journey of a thousand mile begins with one step, the destination could either be the National Democratic Society as environed in our Strategy and Tactics document, or it could be the demise of the liberation struggle and the progressive agenda. History is abound with grand revolutions that failed and some are not too distant from our shores. Even though we should be happy that Hitler and his men miscalculated the Normandy invasion because it led to the end of fascism and one of the most misguided and bloodiest wars ever fought. But similar complacency may lead to the end of even progressive agendas because no matter how progressive they are, they will always be contested by counter revolutionary forces as it continues to be the case nationally and internationally.

One of the tragedies of Marikana is that the workers do not want the NUM. Growing up in the post 1990 dispensation, we were initiated into an ANC led Alliance where the Communist Party was presented as the "Vanguard" and an "Educator", implying that it was responsible for the political and ideological conscientisation of the working class, particularly unionised workers under the banner of COSATU.

Marikana is therefore an indictment against this expectation: that the South African Communist party will ensure that the working class in whose favour the National Democratic Revolution is being waged, will remain ideologically, politically and organisationally united with the Unions that are members to COSATU through political education and mobilisation. It is no co-incidence that COSATU and affiliate Unions have supported the SACP financially.

The question is what is the role of the SACP in the current conjuncture, is it to contest power within the ANC as in Polokwane and Mangaung or is it to educate the masses in general and unionised workers in particular to validate its claim of being the "Vanguard"? Can Comrade Baleni and his NUM leadership collective face the striking workers? Why should Comrade Julius Malema become the scape goat of what is clearly a leadership vacuum created by a leadership collective that must be awakened to the realities suffered by workers on the ground? Did Comrade Julius advise the workers on the formation of AMCU? This is not to defend Comrade Julius Malema but to honestly interrogate some o f the kneejerk responses to the Marikana debacle.

We believe that the SACP may take leaf from the fact that the founder of the communist ideology, Karl Marx himself, made his mark not only by the grand views he espoused, but by being one with the working class, particularly organised and unionised labour. It was him who famously made the clarion call "Workers of the world unite!" We agree with Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi that unity of the workers is paramount, but unity is of course not a mechanical solution but a dynamic process that amongst others must start with political conscietisation and continuous mobilisation as opposed to milking the workers through their subscriptions while apparently selling them out to the mining bosses. The allegation of the funeral scheme at Marikana is a case in point.

Perhaps, one is nostalgic, because while the SACP was "Vanguard" and an "Educator" of the working class, then it had a diverse number of leading Communists who have since deserted the party. Marikana could partly be a reflection of the desertion by able leaders whose names one would not want to personalise lest one be seen as merely glorifying them.

But it could be that the SACP is a hallow of its former self, hence some have actually desperately even suggested that both the Blade Nzimande and Jeremy Cronin should be recalled back to the Party from the Executive to become fulltime again. But one can also ask the question of what difference could merely two leaders do if indeed the SACP ship is stuck in the doldrums and all it could entertain are the leadership politics of the ANC.

We will not play Hitler's staff who feared waking up the dictator from his slumber. In contrast ours is a progressive revolutionary cause within a revolutionary democratic space. That is why we must be concerned and highly alarmed at the news that suggest Comrade Julius Malema is censored by the SABC, the Public Broadcaster. We must collectively condemn this kind of behaviour reminiscent of similar allegations we had to deal with towards Polokwane on the alleged behaviour of one Snuki Zikalala. We must re-assert without fear of contradiction that such behaviour is alien in the ANC and stands against every grain of values that our martyrs died for.

As we commemorate the tragic death of Steve Biko, we must re-iterate the wisdom of "I write what I like", that being freedom of speech and association even for those with whom we differ ideologically and politically. The scare-tactics by some when characterising those with whom they differ as "dangerous" is ironically the danger itself to the fabric of free speech and all the democratic values enshrined in our Constitution.

Neither Comrade Julius Malema nor any person must be regarded as dangerous for merely airing their views because such propaganda is exactly the same mentality that led to the assassination of Chris Hani. Even the DA that we differ with on every thrust for a new and equal society as espoused by the ANC's vision of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society, we nonetheless must defend their rights to free speech and ideological orientation as guaranteed in our Constitution. In turn it is a guarantee that our own rights will never be undermined by anyone in powerful positions.

All democrats worth their salt will disagree with the alleged censoring of Comrade Julius Malema. If we do not stop this practice, it is an environment that may in time bite us as such inconsistency cannot be justified going into the future.

One of the lessons that we derive from the Normandy invasion, is the wisdom advanced by Hitler's army general Rommel, when he insisted that the Allied Forces had superior airforce and that it would therefore be better to contain them upon landing at Normandy with at least one Panzer than to deploy more later because then it could be too late and they would suffer inevitable defeat.

His advice was unheeded by the dictator who preferred some all pleasing compromise between that and a competing view and that contributed to the speedy invasion through Normandy by the Allied Forces and the defeat of Nazi Germany later.

We could say it is better to entertain the South African members of the SANDF grievances now than to let them simmer into more complex social discontent. Ignoring the problems of this magnitude will not make it go away hence Comrade Malema must be left to exercise his democratic right to meet them, even if we may differ with him on whatever ground.

If the religious priests want to broker peace in Marikana, let them do so, even if we differ with them because this is a democracy and not Hitler's Germany! We, including the unions such as NUM, must play our role and not accuse others as excuse for our ineptitude.

We know that service delivery protests stems from very complex socio-economic conditions, some of whose factors are historical, but some which are by and large due to our own complicity as a ruling party.

Unless we honestly and thoroughly grapple with these challenges, we help bring a Normandy situation upon ourselves, albeit that ours is a progressive revolutionary course and not the ill-founded vision of Hitler's fascist, dictatorial and unjust world under Germany's hegemony. Going towards Mangaung, these are some of the issues that we must grapple with regards to the programme of action that must be adopted.

It could be helpful to note that we have in fact adopted many progressive policies with regards to building the organisation as well as creating a Developmental State capably of intervening in favour of our progressive agenda for change.

However, the main problem could be with the quality of leadership we elected in Polokwane and to suggest so is not anathema in a democratic organisation hence we said leadership renewal is part and parcel of the organisation's culture. It is in this context that we say there must be leadership renewal in Mangaung. There must be a new generation of leadership, one that is alive to the issues faced by people on the ground, be it service delivery protests around the country or Marikana.

Such a leadership that must be elected must lead effectively and efficiently on transformation as guided by the array of progressive policies we have already adopted at the National Policy Conference and for consideration as policy in Mangaung.

We have no illusion that quality of leadership is the main difference between success and failure as many of the policy positions appear to be a regurgitation of policy stances we have repeatedly adopted over the years but not successfully implemented.

Leadership issues must be raised prominently in Mangaung so that they are not limited to nominations and elections but also the qualities requisite to take us forward. It is clear that voting for the simple reason of negating a specific individual may not be helpful as we may make the blunder of electing just anyone.

Anger must not be the ultimate guide, but translated into sober analysis of the challenges we face with regards to leadership. The ANC is not about its leadership but the people as a whole, and we must spare no criticism to ensure that we deliver a leadership collective that will serve the people inspired by the spirit of Steve Biko, Solomon Kalushi Mhlangu, Chris Hani and many other martyrs of our struggle. Amandla!!!

*Khusela Sangoni-Khawe is a member of the ANC Youth League National Executive Committee

EDITORIAL

Economic Freedom Fighters, Unite!

Hlomelang is published every Friday. Comrades can send opinion articles to the editorial team by Tuesday every week for publication the same week on Friday. Articles published do not represent the official viewpoint of the ANCYL but are important as part of the conversation that must thrive amongst ourselves in order to share the various perspectives that abound within our movement and further give meaning to our democratic character.

Views expressed must be within the confines of the ANC and ANCYL policy and constitutional parameters. However, that does not mean perspectives expressed cannot argue for changes of such constitutional and policy parameters as part of public conversation on all social, economic and political matters affecting the ANC, the ANCYL, our country, the SADC region, the continent and the entire world.

Emails must be addressed to the ANCYL Head of Communications at ksangoni@anc.org.za