Hlomelang: Official Online Publication of the ANCYL
ANCYL Constitution: as amended and adopted by the 25th National Congress September 2015
Hlomelang: Vol. 13 No. 1: 25 July  07 August 2016
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Opening Address by ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC Youth League 25th National Congress

4 September 2015, Midrand, Johannesburg

Chairperson,
NTT Convener, Cde Fikile Mbalula,
NTT Coordinator, Cde Nathi Mthethwa,
Members of the National Task Team,
Members of the National Executive Committee of the ANC,
Leadership of the Progressive Youth Alliance,
Distinguished Guests,
Delegates,

On behalf of President Jacob Zuma and the entire National Executive Committee of the African National Congress, I convey revolutionary greetings and well wishes to you, the hope and future of our country.

I also convey to the membership of the Youth League our profound appreciation for the painstaking effort that has gone into making this congress possible.

We applaud the Youth League for undertaking the challenging task of rebuilding, revitalising and uniting this organisation.

An ANC Youth League which has such a glorious rich history, an ANC Youth League which has such a great pedigree. We also want to thank comrades who were asked by the National Executive Committee to be part of the National Task Team (NTT) to undertake this task of convening this conference, of helping to unite the Youth League. They faced enormous challenges, but today we want to applaud them for the excellent job they have done because they have truly delivered on the mandate they were given.

I also wish to thank the comrades who preceded their efforts who were members of the NTT who also did an excellent job and prepared the ANC Youth League for a conference which was later transformed into a policy conference. Let us also applaud them because the crisscrossed the length and breadth of this country preparing for this moment.

The holding of this congress is a huge milestone, it is a huge achievement; we want to congratulate you for your perseverance. You all indeed faced many obstacles along the way to arriving here at Gallagher Estate.

Some of the obstacles were internal and yet some were also external. You also faced court challenges that were aimed at stopping your march to renewing the soul and the fiber of the ANC Youth League.

There were those who felt that this congress should not proceed and rush to courts to stop you from having this great historic moment with destiny where you are going to renew the Youth League.

Court challenges to democratic organizational processes have now become a new tendency in our organisation, they are creeping in and they form the danger of having the ANC being run by the courts. They want to reduce your glorious movement from being an organisation whose organizational programmes, whose mandate is will now be determined by the courts. We cannot allow our ANC to be controlled and to be run by the courts.

We are a democratic organisation that is regulated by our constitution; a constitution that is based on democratic values and ethical conduct. Those who rush to courts clearly do not love the African National Congress. Those who rush to courts clearly love themselves more than they love the African National Congress.

We applaud you for your discipline, commitment and patience.

This process has provided many valuable lessons, both for the League and the mother body, that we must acknowledge and understand if we are to build a stronger, more coherent national liberation movement we need to heed the lessons that we have learned.

And some of those lessons comrades are; whenever we see signs of ill-discipline in our structures, we are required to act immediately and not wait. Whenever we see deviant behavior, behavior that militates against the values of the African National Congress, we are required to act immediately, and stop those actions. If we do not do so, the ANC will be up for grabs by anybody who wants to grab it and take it in any direction that they want to.

We have won the political freedom for which so many of our people fought and sacrificed.

Now we are called upon to enter a new phase of struggle, in which all our efforts, all our resources and all our energy are directed towards the achievement of economic emancipation.

What we achieved in 1994 was just a breakthrough; it was a breakthrough in that it gave us an opportunity, particularly to the African National Congress, to continue prosecuting the struggle on a number of fronts, knowing that our victory is even much more certain.

As we have done before at critical moments in our history, we once again look to the youth to lead this struggle.

We look to this Congress to provide direction and to provide impetus.

We look to this Congress to enrich our understanding of radical economic transformation and to advance policies that will free our youth from a life of want and indignity.

Thanks to your efforts, this administration has a clear programme to tackle youth unemployment.

Thanks to your efforts, this government has committed to set aside 60% of jobs on new infrastructure projects for young people.

Thanks to your efforts, we have set a target to provide work opportunities through the public works programmes to four million young people over five years.

These are victories that you have achieved, in case you did not know. It was through your representatives that you were able, at the ANC Conference, to insist that a programme of empowering young people is put at the centre of what the ANC does

Now we need to work together to ensure that these commitments are realised and that young people become active participants in the economy.

There is great potential in the fact that most of our working age population is young.

We have a significant opportunity to harness their energy, innovation, creativity and vibrancy in pursuit of sustainable economic activity.

Education and skills development must stand at the centre of our efforts.

The Youth League needs to mobilise young people to take advantage of the many learning and training opportunities that are being made available.

As the President travels to various countries in the world, he is offered training opportunities for young people. As a number of other colleagues in the executive travel to a number of countries, we are continuously offered a number of training opportunities.

These are opportunities that the ANC Youth League must make sure that they are taken up by young people.

These are opportunities that the ANC Youth League must keep on its radar screen to make sure that the young people in our country take them up on an ongoing basis. To go and study overseas, to go and acquire skills, to come back and contribute to the growth of our country. That is a task the ANC Youth League must take up with great enthusiasm.

It needs to be at the forefront of struggles of better funding for education, the ANC Youth League is the one that must be leading the campaign for better funding for young people for education in TVET colleges and universities. That must be your task as the ANC Youth League.

This is the youth that will lead our knowledge economy.

This is the youth that is fascinated by scientific invention and its use in the enhancement of our lives.

This is a Youth League that attracts highly-educated young men and women. It attracts entrepreneurs and aspirant industrialists within its ranks and yes it must attract the male nurse who delivered a ANC baby yesterday. That is the ANC Youth League that we must become.

It must become a Youth League that is deeply immersed in all the drivers that are going to deliver economic emancipation for our people. That is the type of Youth League that we want.

It values knowledge and celebrates innovation.

Comrades,

The ANC Youth League needs to unite the youth of this country.

It needs to work day and night uniting the young people of our country. Young people of this country are hungry for leadership, are hungry for ideas, they want a home. Only the ANC Youth League can provide them with that leadership and a home.

There is no other organisation that can provide young people with the type of home that can give them hope.

Just as the ANC is the only organisation that can give our people hope, that has always given our people hope and that has given them a better future, so the ANC Youth League must be a home of young people.

A home for young people is a place that is welcoming, it is a place that is warm, it is a place that is filled with comfort, and it is a place that is filled with history, with ideas. That is what the ANC Youth League must become once again.

It must work to build the South Africa envisaged by the late President Oliver Tambo, in which:

It is the responsibility of the Youth League to break down barriers of division and create a country where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity.

It needs to occupy all spaces in our society.

There must be no space that is left unoccupied by the ANC Youth League is not present. The ANC Youth League must have wall to wall presence throughout the length and the breadth of our country. As people turn around the corner, they must know that the ANC Youth League is present just as the ANC is present throughout the country.

The Youth League must make itself attractive to young people. It must become their magnet; we must be able to be the light that is shining and attract the moths, all the insects that fly, they must come to the light. The ANC Youth League must be seen as the light to the young people in our country.

It needs to be present in places of learning, in factories and on farms.

It must be on the radio, on Twitter, it must be on Facebook, it must be in thousands of discussion groups across the country.

It must engage in the battle of ideas.

Comrades this is probably one of the the most important areas were the ANC Youth League needs to make its presence felt. The ANC Youth League must be the defender of the ANC at all costs at all times wherever the ANC is attacked. We must know that we have a line of defence and that line of defence, the first line, the second line and the last line is the ANC Youth League that must be the role of the Youth League.

But it must be a Youth League that must engage in the battle of ideas. We must see that the ANC Youth League engages with those who hate the ANC, it must engage with those who want the ANC to fails; it must engage with those who want to defeat the ANC, it must engage with those who insult the ANC, those who call our leaders names, those who degrade the name of our president must be engaged by the ANC Youth League.

The ANC Youth League comrades must build alliances. It must be an organisation that develops expertise in building alliances. During the defiance campaign the leaders of the ANC Youth League were key leaders of that defiance campaign. Our movement was able to leader our people in defiance in the 50s largely because the ANC Youth League build alliances with a plethora of organisations to make sure that the defiance campaign was a successful one.

So therefore the ANC Youth League must build formations. We have been in alliance with other youth formations that had shared values and common developmental objectives.

We must do everything possible to ensure that never again in South Africa will opportunities offered to young people be defined by race, ethnicity, gender, class or religion.

The scourge of racism still continues to define the lives of many institutions in our country. Many institutions continue to resist transformation. Many give lip services to the transformation imperative. Unfortunately many of such institutions are also institutions of higher learning.

These are institutions that are supposed to be the repository of knowledge and progressive thinking. We continue to hear how black young people continue to be discriminated against at a number of universities in our country. We continue to hear worrying tales and accounts of how black young people are treated in the most racist way, are subjected to racist practices that manifest themselves in a number of ways.

We must state unequivocally that there is no place for racism in institutions of higher learning in South Africa.

Those who still believe that apartheid can have a safe haven in a number of institutions must immediately know that apartheid has no place in South Africa anymore. We will not tolerate such activities. Apartheid was defeated in 1994.

The ANC Youth League working together with other formations such as SASCO has the responsibility like the youth of 1976, like the youth of 1976, that youth of 1976, resisted the imposition of Afrikaans on education and on young people in schools, they resisted it quite effectively.

The ANC Youth League working with SASCO and COSAS in various places needs to lead the charge and make sure that our institutions are free of any form of racism. We need to lead the charge and expose racism; we need to lead the charge to ensure that those institutions conform to the values of our constitution of non-racism. This is what the ANC Youth League needs to get involved in.

Comrades and compatriots,

Our Youth League must be militant, without being threatening.

It must use its infinite energy to have fun, without being frivolous.

It must leverage the power of social media to influence rather than inflame, to empower rather than insult, to share rather than shock.

Like the Youth League that conceptualised and led the Defiance Campaign, the ANC Youth League of today must not lose its imagination, mass appeal and force of persuasion.

We do not persuade people by force, we do not persuade people by throwing stones, we do not persuade people by acting in a disorderly fashion. We persuade people through our argument, the weight and content and substance of our argument. That is what ANC Youth League has always been good at.

Comrades

The ANC Youth League is the parliament of young people of South Africa. You are the parliament of the youth of our country. It is out of this parliament that the youth of our country want to feel hopeful. It is out of your parliament that the youth of our country want to know that you are going to come up with ideas that are going to improve their lives. It is where they share their aspirations, express their views and craft programmes that will advance their common interest.

The ANC Youth League belongs to the youth.

The ANC belongs to the people.

It is not a vehicle for self-enrichment, patronage or self-aggrandisement, it is not a vehicle for enrichment comrades. It is not an ANC Youth League that is on sale. This ANC Youth League is not on sale to anybody. It is an ANC Youth League. If you have any idea to buy the ANC Youth League, I have to tell you, it does not come cheap. This ANC Youth League is not cheap, so the tendencies are creeping in, where money is being used, to buy young people must come to an end.

We must obliterate them from the culture of the ANC Youth League. The ANC Youth League is a weighty organisation, it is an organisation which was formed by the giants of our movements. When they formed it, they never thought that it would ever go on sale; they never thought that there would be a discount sale written on the window for the ANC Youth League. They never had that in mind.

We commit to place our energies and skills at the disposal of the organisation and carry out tasks given to us.

We therefore look to the members of Youth League to provide leadership in all spheres of life, to earn respect, to set an example.

It was the first President of the ANC Youth League, Anton Lembede, who told the young people of his day that:

This is precisely the type of young people we must find in the ranks of the ANC Youth League today.

Young men and women of high moral stamina and integrity, of courage and vision.

We must find young men and women who are deeply immersed in the politics of our movement. This we will achieve if the young people who are in the ANC Youth League spent more of their time in the political school of the African National Congress, spent more of their time involved in political education, then we will find this type of young person.

If you do not spent time in the political school of our movement, you will not have the ability to have the type of stamina and integrity that Anton Lembede was talking about. If you do not spend time involving yourself in the political education live of our movement you will not be the type of young person who Anton Lembede was describing.

We must find young men and women who are steeped in the understating of the political economy of our country as well. Who are steeped in understanding the history of our country, who are wealthy in also understanding the history of our continent and yes indeed and the history of our world.

These are the warriors that we need for our age. This is what Anton Lembede was talking about.

These are young people who must love reading, these are young people who must love debates, these are young people who must love discussions; these are young people who we will find at the political school. They must know the glorious history of their movement; they must know the history of the membership and the leadership of this movement.

Comrades,

As we ponder, as you all of you ponder who should leader the ANC Youth League going forward, as this issue preoccupies your thinking, and we know that in some cases it is foremost in your minds. As you ponder this, cast your eyes back and remember the calibre of leaders who have preceded the leaders that you are going to have an opportunity to choose today. You are an organisation that has had the best and the best fortune to have been led by some of the giants of our movement.

Leaders such as Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many others have led your Youth League. They would have been seating here as well leading this glorious Youth League of the African National Congress.

So therefore the leaders that you are going to choose tomorrow, should be the type of leaders who you should put up a mirror and say do they measure up to the Anton Lembedes, to the Nelson Mandelas, to the Walter Sisulus to the Oliver Tambos of old; do they even begin to equate to those leaders our movement has known.

You are fortunate because the giants of our movement once led this ANC Youth League. You are therefore walking on the footsteps of giants; you are standing on the shoulders of gigantic leaders of our movement. You are therefore called upon to choose wisely as you ponder the issue of choosing your leader.

Those leaders of old were motivated by one thing and one thing only, to be servants of our people. We should ask ourselves whether the leaders we are going to choose are also going to be the type who will say all we want to do is to serve our people.

This congress must therefore send a clear message and a resounding message to the youth of South Africa, it must say with confidence but with humility that this is our time; out time as the youth of the African National Congress has arrived.

This is the message you must send out as you rise from this congress. You must say this is now out time, we have been given the baton of leadership, we have been given the baton of coming up with ideas, we have been given the responsibility of sharpening the full meaning of what economic transformation means, we have been given the baton of taking this movement to a higher level and to the greatest level.

This comrades is your century, this is your decade. This decade has been handed to you by your forbear, by the leaders who have come before you. Utilise this great opportunity, but start by utilising it here in this conference, by making sure that the decisions you take, the policies that you adopt are the type of policies that are going to take our movement forward.

This is you moment, this is your movement, take it forward, in your hands and lead South Africa, lead the youth of this country forward, it is now in your hands, take this movement forward.

Thank you very much.