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Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the 69th anniversary celebrations of the ANC Youth League
15 September 2013, Seshego, Polokwane, Limpopo
The Leadership of the ANC,
Convener of the ANCYL National Task Team, Cde Mzwandile Masina and all NTT members,
Leadership YCL, SASCO and COSAS,
Comrades and friends,
Fellow South Africans,
I bring you revolutionary greetings on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress as we meet to celebrate 69 years of the political home of all progressive young people in our country!
The 69th year anniversary of the ANC Youth League is a cause of much excitement, given the contribution of the ANC Youth League to the struggle for liberation and the consolidation of democracy in our country.
Formed on the 10th of September 1944 at the Bantu Men`s Social Centre in Johannesburg, the Youth League was only in its fourth year of existence when the National Party came into power and institutionalized racism and subjugation of the black majority.
It has been a long walk to freedom since then, and we salute all the giants of our revolution produced by the ANC Youth League and who developed and strengthened the Youth League, including Anton Lembede, Robert Resha, Mxolisi Majombozi, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Lawrence Phokanoka and many others.
The Youth League has gone through many milestones in 69 years.
MILESTONES OF THE YOUTH LEAGUE
ANC Programme of Action and the Defiance Campaign, with Nelson Mandela as Volunteer in Chief.
1940s they introduced a Programme of Action and new militancy 1950s Defiance Campaign and new activism of boycotts 1960s they were at the cutting edge of the struggle especially as first MK cadres carrying out sabotage and combat missions 1970s the youth uprisings and new youth militancy 1980s mass democratic movement and rendering apartheid ungovernable 1990s they exerted new politics of mass mobilisation and vigorous campaigns June 1976 which led to an exodus of young people to join MK in exile and produced soldiers such as Solomon Mahlangu and many others.
1980s-The formation of militant youth formations such as SAYCO which worked within the UDF fold, responding to President OR Tambos call to make townships ungovernable and apartheid unworkable.
1990s-Participation in rebuilding the ANC inside the country and working for a decisive ANC victory in the first democratic elections and subsequent elections.
Defending and consolidating the gains of freedom and democracy.
ORGANISATION BUILDING -DISCIPLINE
The anniversary reminds us of the need to build the type of ANC Youth League that young people and the country as a whole can look up to with admiration, inspiration and respect.
The ANC is the leader of society, and the ANC Youth League is the leader of all youth in our country regardless of class, race or gender, as the biggest youth formation in the Republic.
We congratulate the National Task Team on the work done thus far in rebuilding the structures of the ANC Youth League.
Also important is the return of dignity and discipline within the League which will rebuild the trust and respect that our people have always had for the ANC Youth League.
The founding fathers of the Youth League correctly understood the role of the League as an incubator and preparatory school of the movement when they wrote in its manifesto that:
"African youth must be united, consolidated, trained and disciplined because from their ranks, future leaders will be recruited".
We are glad that the League has thus far primarily not failed on this mission.
ROLE OF THE LEAGUE IN THE ERA OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY
The Youth League derives its existence and its programmes and vision from the ANC`s vision to create a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
This is the vision which constitutes the core objectives of the National Democratic Revolution and which is the basis for our Alliance with all democratic and progressive forces in our country.
In bringing this vision to life, we are working to create a society where all have food on the table, where children go to good quality schools and receive good quality health care in good hospitals.
We are working to create viable human settlements with water, electricity, good roads, libraries, community halls and recreational facilities.
We are working with business, labour and the community sector including the youth in particular to promote economic development and economic growth so that our people can gain jobs and also find income generating activities.
The question of economic freedom is paramount on the agenda of the ANC as pronounced recently by both the Polokwane and Mangaung national conferences. It is also on the agenda of the ANC Youth League.
We have a long way to go towards equitable ownership, control and management of the South African economy.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange 2012 Report indicated that while 21% of shares of ownership of the top 100 companies are held by black people, direct black ownership is less than 5%.
The annual Employment Equity report each year indicates very minimal movement with regards to the control and management of the economy.
All reports point to the fact that white males are still in control of the means of the production.
The ANC has long moved beyond slogans and has begun to practically prepare our youth for leadership of the economy through education, internships, learnerships and black economic empowerment and affirmative action programmes.
We are happy that the enrolments at higher education institutions have increased by 50 percent since 2001 which indicates a growing hunger for education.
Numbers moved from six hundred and three thousand (603 000) students enrolled in 2001 to nine hundred and thirty five thousand (935 000) in 2012.
It is for this reason that the ANC government is building two brand new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, which will begin accepting students next year.
We are also building 10 new Further Education and Training Colleges and refurbishing two colleges, to further open the doors of learning.
You are aware that children from poor households do not pay fees at FET colleges to further expand access to education.
The more we produce skilled young graduates, the more we need opportunities for internships and jobs.
The National Youth Accord that was negotiated and signed between business, government, labour and the community sectors especially the youth in April this year, is designed to help alleviate the question of youth training and employment.
We appeal again to the private sector to absorb as many young people as possible for internships, learnerships and mentorships.
Government is also processing the Employment Tax Incentive Bill through which, when it becomes law, employers will benefit from tax incentives when hiring young workers, but without displacing older workers. The Bill is still being discussed within the Cabinet system.
We urge the ANC Youth League to work on this project closely with the ANC government, the National Youth Development Agency and employer organisations to assist the youth to obtain much needed employment and training opportunities We remind the youth as well of ANC laws such as affirmative action and Black Economic Empowerment which have already demonstrated success and benefits for many black businesspeople and professionals.
We need to use these further as transformation tools.
Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment are consititutional imperatives designed in terms of Section 9 of the Constitution to correct the inequality and exclusion faced mainly by Black people, namely Africans, Coloureds and Indians, as well as women and people with disabilities, which was caused by apartheid laws.
The ANC government has put before parliament a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Amendment Bill to further enhance transformation.
Amongst the proposals put forward is the introduction of a Commission that will oversee, supervise and promote adherence to the B-BBEE Act and codes in the interest of the public.
The Bill also introduces drastic measures such as criminalising misrepresentations of the B-BBEE status of an enterprise and providing false information or misrepresenting information to the Verification Personnel in order to secure a particular B-BBEE status.
It would also criminalise the failure by government officials to report BEE violations to an appropriate law enforcement agency. The minimum penalty that can be imposed on an enterprise for a deliberate misrepresentation of its B-BBEE status is 10% of its turnover, and further for a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment for owners.
The ANC government also has in place, progressive laws such as the Employment Equity Act and other progressive transformative laws. Let us use these instruments to change our country for the better.
With regards to the standard of living in general, Census 2011 revealed shocking statistics that the income of the average white household still remains six times higher than that of the average African household.
Figures indicate that the average annual African household income is R60 613 while that of the white household is R365 164.
Inequality therefore continues to stare us in the face, requiring more work from government and all sectors to bridge the gap between black and white further.
We also need to further improve our success rate on land reform.
In the State of the Nation Address I announced the intention of government to reopen restitution claims for those who lost their land since June 1913 but missed the deadline of 31 December 1998. The process is ongoing.
Beyond economic transformation, the ANC Youth League also has a responsibility to contribute to building a caring society and to support youth in distress.
Gangsterism, drugs and substance abuse cannot be allowed to continue destroying our communities. We therefore remind you of your role in the campaign against drugs and substance abuse in all communities.
On health, we acknowledge the contribution of the ANC Youth League to the campaign against HIV and AIDS in which we have scored some major achievements as a country. The struggle continues to promote HIV prevention campaigns and to encourage those living with the virus to continue taking treatment.
On international relations, let me remind you that you are descendants of freedom fighters who promoted peace in this country and the world such as Oliver Reginald Tambo, Johnny Makatini and many more.
The ANC Youth League should continue the quest for a better Africa and a just world.
The ANC government continues to participate in peace missions in the continent and our soldiers are doing a sterling job within the continent.
We also continue to promote the United Nations and multilateralism. It is our view that a stronger and more representative United Nations Security Council will be able to promote equitable global governance in which bigger and more powerful countries do not bully other nations into submission on peace and security and other matters.
It is for this reason that we are campaigning for the representation of Africa in the United Nations Security Council. A continent with one billion people must be a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Comrades and friends
Today we are celebrating 69 years of militancy, bravery, fearlessness, robustness and radicalism.
We are celebrating 69 years of constant injection of new and fresh ideas into the ANC on how we must accelerate our advance towards creating a better South Africa.
We celebrate the fact that the history of the ANC Youth League is the history of the evolution of the South African society.
We therefore encourage all members of the Youth League to work hard to rebuild the League, and strive continuously for the unity and cohesion of the organisation.
The Youth League must rise above the challenges it is confronted with currently and emerge out of them more united, stronger, radical and militant within the overall organisational discipline of the ANC.
But the ANC Youth League must not only be inward looking. It must also respond to the broad challenges facing young people in our country.
As you mobilise young people behind the vision of the ANC, you must also be able to capture their imagination and champion their aspirations.
That is the only way in which this Youth League of Nelson Mandela can remain relevant and `cool`.
This must be an ANC Youth League that moves with the times, and remains in touch with the lives of young people and where they are right now in terms of development.
Our message to South African youth on this important day is that the ANC is the only organisation that is capable of resolving the challenges of unemployment, poverty, disease, inequality and need for skills that faces our young people.
Your ANC Government has concrete programmes to address these challenges which it is implimenting as we speak as opposed to shouting from rooftops just because it is time for elections.
Under the leadership of the ANC, South Africa will continue to make progress in the quest for a better life for all.
Research has shown that there are about 4 million young people who have not registered to vote.
The immediate task of the Youth League and the Progressive Youth Alliance is to reach out to these young people and ensure that they are registered to vote.
Their votes count immensely and must not be wasted. They must vote ANC so that we can take forward the progress made in the past five years and also in the past two decades of freedom and democracy.
To all members of the ANC Youth League, keep calm, you are in control. The ANC lives, the ANC leads.
Lets go out there and build the ANC and give the movement a resounding victory in next years elections!
Happy 69th anniversary to the ANC Youth League!
Thank you very much.