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Statement of the ANCYL National Task Team on the occasion of the state of readiness
20 August 2015
THEME OF THE FORTHCOMING ANCYL CONGRESS:
`Unity in Action Towards Economic Freedom in our Lifetime: Rebuilding the ANCYL and Reshaping the Future’
The National Task Team (NTT) of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) as appointed by the African National Congress National Executive Committee (ANC NEC) in 2013 convened this press conference to amplify political clarity, organisational direction and over-arching strategic perspective on the state of readiness and preparedness towards the much anticipated ANCYL Congress.
On going debates leading to the elective congress are underscored by the characterisation of the contemporary balance of forces locally and globally, ANCYL policies, strategies and tactics. The tempo, mood and tenor is a crystal clear signal that the youth of South Africa, the young lions, are combat ready and are in the final stages of the preparations to the ANCYL Congress to be held on the 4th - 6th September 2015 at the Gallagher Estate, at Midrand in the Gauteng Province.
The journey traversed by the NTT to this juncture traces its genesis to the constant tension and ultimate realisation of the ANC leadership in 2007 that the ANCYL would begin to be consumed by the divisions it had actively participated in trying to diffuse.
The historical record also reveals that the ANC 53rd National Conference in 2012 instructed the then incoming NEC to "urgently intervene to address the situation of the ANC Youth League" and to take "all the necessary measures to ensure that the league plays its proper role and acts within the policy and Constitution of the ANC." After much agonising, the ANC NEC resolved to disband the ANCYL NEC.
Needless to say that the unintended political consequences of disbanding the ANCYL created a gaping political vacuum in youth politics that has been particularly painful for the youth in general, who looks up to the ANCYL for political leadership, as well as for the ANC itself that has witnessed the political and organisational decay of once-mighty, influential and coherent ANCYL and its standing among the youth.
As we march towards the congress, dealing with this infantile disorder that plunged us in this political morass, which we are decisively launching a sustained assault on, we must, with the same ferocity and brutally deal with all types of factionalism afflicting the ANC as these ills are prohibitive and degenerative to the organic unity and sustenance of the movement.
Accordingly, the persistent global economic crisis and youth unemployment must occupy a centre stage in the deliberations of Congress. We must pose difficult and hard political and economic questions, putting the economic interests of the youth first, at all material times as seek workable answers to the current complex economic questions.
Our journey to congress began in earnest and in an organic fashion punctuated by rebuilding basic grassroots units and refocusing the membership and elected leaders to the immediate tasks confronting the youth movement. That process reached another historically significant milestone when we convened the ANCYL Consultative Congress on the 24th - 29 December 2014 that mandated and extolled us to redouble our efforts of consolidating and quicken the tempo towards the convening of an elective congress, a mammoth task we are today thankfully witnessing its near completion and complete fulfilment on the 4th - 6thSeptember 2015 when we handover the baton to the elected representative of the ANCYL.
As we speak, our branches have been putting shoulder to the wheel and it has been all hands on deck, throughout the length and breadth of South Africa and in every nook and cranny, as branches nominate delegates to the Provincial General Councils charged with the responsibility of consolidating policy positions and finalising the composition of the collective leadership to be elected at congress.
Our Congress will be attended by three thousand (3000) delegate and 90% of whom are accredited delegates from our branches. The rest of the delegates who will be joining congress are former Youth League leaders, ANC NEC Members, the ANC Women’s League, the MK Veterans Association, Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and fraternal organisations. The process is on track!
The movement, mindful of the historical mission of the ANCYL and informed by the immediacy of the role that the youth as a social stratum plays in socio-economic transformation, resolved in its wisdom to appoint a National Task Team comprising of the following previous leaders of the African National Congress Youth League:
- Cde Fikile Mbalula (Convener),
- Cde Nathi Mthethwa (Coordinator),
- Cde Malusi Gigaba,
- Cde Mcebis Skwatsha,
- Cde Pinky Moloi, and
- Cde Nocawe Mafu.
The NTT was supported by Provincial Task Teams, the National Dispute Resolutions Committee and the Technical Staff in carrying out its mandate of systematically rebuilding the ANCYL by ensuring the revalitalisation of strong, vibrant branches, rejuvenating quantitative structures and qualitative cadres in all spheres. On the other hand the NTT had to ensure that the ANC lives and ANC leads, most importantly, that it has within itself the ability self-correct and defend the strategic gains of the revolution by entrenching the ANC’s hegemony as the true representative of the people of South Africa and a leader of society.
The brief historical record, will in good measure, confirm that we have fulfilled our mandate of building basic grass roots structures upward to districts and provinces. The build up to the National Conference of the African National Congress Youth League, as it has always been customary, is preceded by characteristic robust debates and constructive, militant engagements which will culminate into the National Congress on the 4th - 6th September 2015.
In order to enrich the theoretical perspective and sharpen the ideological discourse in these debates amongst the youth belonging to the oldest liberation movement in the continent, and consistent with the Theme of the Congress aptly framed ` Unity in Action Towards Economic Freedom in our Life Time: Rebuilding the ANCYL and Reshaping the Future’ we released a discussion document titled - Repositioning the ANC for the future: A Strategic Perspective
In our discussion document we postulate, canvass and deliberate on a whole range of key strategic issues, of which, arising from our experience, emanating from our understanding and in our view will serves as the basis for robust debates, lively discussions and broadest possible consultation within our structures and other social forces in the build up, during and post congress. These include in the main:
- The role and place of the youth in the governance dimension within civil society, public and private sector institutions.
- Youth involvement in human capital development skills development. The role and place of the youth in the learning teaching enterprise.
- The role and place of the youth in research and development (R&D) , in the economy, business, scientific and technology innovation, in entrepreneurship, in sport and recreation, in arts and culture, in health and environmental issues, in renewable energy, in gender equity and women empowerment, in rural development and urban renewal.
- The role of the youth in leading and influencing students struggles on issues of access from basic education to higher education. Shaping and influencing responsive funding models for the transformation of the higher education and training sectors.
- The role and place of the youth in socio-economic and social transformation.
- Deepening the understanding of the youth on the impact of millennium development goals and the new development goals to the domestic and international balance of forces.
- We pose the question of whether the National Democratic Revolution is in danger from the neo-liberal agenda and counter-revolution.
- We challenge the youth to define the meaning of their definite body of opinion within the ANC formed to dynamise youth and the ANC and advance ANC ideas among young people.
- We issue the clarion call to all youth to be at the cutting edge of the revolution by claiming their right-full place in the front-line of the battle.
- We, by our own admission, accept the narrative that the YL, like any other organisation or living organism, has in its own evolution been through its own highs and lows moments, through various phases including a period of organisational degeneration and renewal. We make the bold assertion that it is now incumbent upon the current generation of leaders to take the lead in the renewal of the YL and leapfrog it into a new world of opportunities and growth.
It is our intention to provoke brutally, frank debates and honest analysis of our strengths and weaknesses. It is through such an exercise and political discourse that the Youth League can live up to its historical role in society of being pathfinders and loadstars, with progressive resolutions and Programme of Action that resonate with the material conditions and aspirations of young people in school, in institutions of higher learning and youth out of school. Wherever Young people meet the ANCYL must exist.
Unity in Action
From its very inception, the founders of the ANCYL believed in the ANC as a vehicle for the unity of the African people in their struggle for freedom. They believed that divisions and factionalism within the movement could not be tolerated and had to be viciously defeated as they would detract it from its historical mission. Not denying weaknesses within the ANC, our forebears believed that these could not be used as an excuse to divide the African people by dividing the Congress. They believed that the task of uniting the oppressed and leading them to national freedom could not be accomplished through a divided ANC and fractious struggle.
Secondly, they believed firmly that if they were to achieve national liberation, Africans had to extricate themselves from the destructive and debilitating clutches of white Trusteeship, to wage an independent struggle for national freedom as a confident people. Accordingly, they rejected white Trusteeship and asserted the African people’s right to national freedom and self-determination and fight for their own freedom themselves, under the banner of the ANC. Accordingly, the ANCYL sought to imbue the ANC with a radical African Nationalism as a philosophical outlook and basis for a militant programme of action to confront white supremacy.
As well as a radical creed and programme of action, the youth were soon to learn from practice that militancy without revolutionary discipline is nothing but anarchy and downright dangerous adventurism; whilst discipline without militancy is sheer reformism that would blunt the struggle. Militancy and discipline are two sides of the same coin; one without the other would lead to the historic defeat of the revolution.
Over time, the ANC has attached high moral value and political premium on both militancy and revolutionary discipline, and always distinguished itself in struggle, not only through the militancy and valour of its cadres and combatants, but also because of their revolutionary discipline. Of course, it would have been not be impossible to solve the problems spawned by apartheid-colonialism without the oppressed adopting a militant posture in the struggle. At the same time, their struggle for national liberation would not have progressed any farther had they not been disciplined enough to know when and how to advance as well as when and how to retreat in order to advance again.
In a letter from prison to the Kobwe Consultative Conference in 1985, Nelson Mandela described unity in the ANC as the bedrock upon which the ANC was founded. Accordingly it is incumbent upon the current generation to build a vibrant, dynamic, and self-reliant and disciplines YL that is a political home to young people of all races, class, sex and creed based on a common programme and agenda for transformation and development.
Leadership and the urgent task to rebuilt the ANC Youth League
At this crucial moment, four inter-related questions rise to sharp prominence:
- First, the urgent need to rebuild the ANCYL, in terms of both its organisational machinery as well as political and ideological orientation;
- Secondly, the urgent need to mobilise, organise and educate - that is, conscientise - the youth in general so that they remain a dependable, conscious and disciplined revolutionary-democratic force;
- Thirdly, the urgent need to re-establish the vast political influence of the ANCYL in society in general, among the youth and within the ANC; and
- Finally, the urgent need to define the role of the youth during this period that the movement has unanimously decided to characterise as the second phase of the transition.
We expect the young cadres within the structures of the YL to understand that the central role of the mother-body, the ANC is to serve the people. This perspective and dictum is well articulated in one of the ANC historical documents titled `Organisational Renewal: Building the ANC as a movement for transformation and a strategic centre for power’. It is to be expected that the incoming leadership will build mutual confidence and dynamic connection between the youth and ANC. As the document reads and to paraphrase - we should resist any temptation born by our ascendancy to power to reduce the role of the masses to spectators of the governance process. Our primary task is to mobilise all strata and classes including the social forces born out of our democracy, around the programme of social transformation to build a national democratic society.
Contemporary challenges at glance
The incoming leadership will inevitably contend with the a set of both subjective and objective challenges ranging from the sins of incumbency, reclaiming the youth strata in institutions of learning, at work places and the unemployed youth, cultivating intellectualism, research and development, resurgent imperialist agendas coupled with the global economic crisis, biased and partisan media hell-bent on denouncing the ANC, counter revolutionary social and market forces, factionalism, corruption and patronage. In tackling these challenges, the incoming leadership must rely on the Freedom Charter as the fulcrum around which all interventions and responses must revolve. The collective responsibility of the leadership and membership of the ANCYL is to take the YL and the youth movement of our country to the next level and greater heights.
Imperialist arrogance has continued unabated as witnessed during the interventions in, among others, Ivory Coast and Libya, and failed regime change attempts in Zimbabwe. This has been exacerbated by the lack of a progressive movement for Africa’s renewal that involves liberation movements / political parties as well as governments. Much of Africa’s cooperation around various programmes, be they political or economic, or even social, is bureaucratic, happening within the framework of inter-state cooperation, rather than driven by a shared political and strategic prospects.
The ANCYL should continue to be an advocate for an international progressive youth movement, forging bilateral alliances and participating actively in the structures such as the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) and the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY). In these structures, its role and voice as Africa’s own champion must be vociferous and unequivocal.
PREOCCUPATION WITH THE QUESTIONS OF THE FUTURE
Our preoccupation with the questions of the future - what it will be, what it will look like and how it shall be achieved - place the youth at the very centre of every nation’s endeavours.
It was precisely for this reason, because he had fully grasped and appreciated the central role of the youth in pursuit of the future, as well as the fact that the youth and the future were inseparable one from the other, that the late President O.R. Tambo made the incisive remark that: "A country, a movement, a people, that does not value its youth, does not deserve its future". Equally, the inverse of this statement is also true that - a youth that do not value their country, movement and people, do not deserve their future.
In essence, what this means is that every class or social stratum - indeed every society - that neglects investing in its future - its own sustenance and survival - is ill-fated. The sustenance and perpetuation, indeed the propagation, of the ideas of any class and social stratum, as well as any movement, depends on this deliberate and conscious investment in the youth as the rising generation.
These historical lessons are not easy to learn; they cannot be taught to the youth in universities, but only from the vantage point of revolutionary action - praxis. At the same time, reactionary organisations can also impart the same lessons to the youth, albeit for completely different reasons and in order to preserve the old order, or to derail the revolution.
Rebuilding the ANCYL is an urgent strategic priority for the ANC itself. Success in this regard ensures not only the resonance of ANC views among the youth, but, above everything else, it guarantees the ANC its future.
Two decades after the advent of democracy in our country, the ANCYL must question the reasons for its existence, the role and place of the youth in struggle as well as the environment in which it must carry out its historic tasks. As it does so, it must locate its own role within the ANC, in society and among the youth. It must re-establish itself as the authentic voice of the youth, the harbinger of changes in the revolutionary process as well as the microcosm of the future. The moment is upon us. Let us rise to the challenge and occasion!