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Declaration of the 23rd National Congress

29 June 2008

We, the delegates to the 23rd National Congress of the ANC Youth League, convening at the Johannesburg Expo Centre from 27-30 June 2008, discussed and resolved on organizational, policy and leadership issues, guided by our historic mission to champion the interests of our youth and to mobilize them behind the vision of the ANC for change.

As we convened in this National Congress, we saluted one of the founding members of the ANC Youth League, a stalwart of our movement and the first President of a democratically elected South African government, the one and only President Nelson Mandela who celebrates a milestone 90th birthday. We also took note of the fact that this towering icon of our struggle, celebrates his birthday in tribute to the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS, a scourge that has undermined the development of our youth in our country and across the world.

Therefore, as we celebrate Madiba`s milestone 90th birthday, we salute him as well as on behalf of his departed fellow 1944 Youth League generation of young lions who set an indelible mark for our youth to emulate across all generations. We therefore vow to continue with their legacy as a militant revolutionary youth organization. And to this end, we wish to reiterate that the Youth League is a disciplined militant youth organization of the ANC. In tribute to Madiba, as well as the various generations of youth who were inspired into struggle by his exemplary generation, we declare that the coarse of youth development must be accelerated, and that both business and the government must be at the centre of providing leadership for decent and quality jobs for our youth in particular and our people in general.

As we convene this national congress, we also note the various resolutions of the Freedom Charter, those stating that:

"The people shall govern,
All National Groups Shall have Equal Rights!
The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth!
The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!
All Shall be Equal Before the Law!
All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!
There Shall be Work and Security!
The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!
There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!
There Shall be Peace and Friendship!"

On the international front, we declare that an equitable just world is possible, that the rules that govern trade must be changed and that fair trade is an answer to global inequalities.

Commencing this 23rd National Congress in Johannesburg, Gauteng, we noted that this was a continuation of the 23rd National Congress that we adjourned in Mangaung, Free State. Accordingly, we considered it our utmost priority as we reconvened, to deal with the issues that caused us to adjourn the National Congress in Mangaung.

Having received and discussed the report from the ANC, as presented by the ANC Secretary General, Comrade Gwede Mantashe, we took it as our first resolution in order to pave a way forward and therefore resolve the challenges we were faced with in Mangaung, to adopt the recommendations of the ANC, without alterations.

As an organization, we re-emphasise it for the whole world to know, that we remain the Youth League of the ANC, constitutionally obliged to further its policies and to defend its political integrity. We were therefore humbled by the ANC intervention. It is our contention that the future of our country and world is complex and melancholy. We hold it dear to our hearts that the future and hope of our people is with the African National Congress whose unity and integrity we must defend as a matter of principle and by extension a defense of the National Democratic Revolution

We therefore express our unconditional gratitude for the able leadership of the ANC to provide guidance when faced with those serious challenges. As delegates, we took it as our decision to rise above whatever challenges, in order to serve the greater interests of our organization and the youth of our country.

For this reason, we took various resolutions aimed at ensuring that we build cadreship amongst our membership that will be imbued with the character of behavior befitting membership to this glorious movement of our people. Amongst these, we will endeavour to implement the ANC resolutions on convening political schools, in order too build a cadreship that will enable us as an organization to provide leadership within and outside our movement into the future.

Amongst the resolutions we took, we noted the work towards the implementation of the Integrated Youth Development Strategy and the initiatives to create the National Youth Development Agency, and further resolved that the ANC Youth League must be seized with this issue and provide leadership on the unfolding implementation.

We re-iterate that the Integrated Youth Development Strategy provides us with a comprehensive strategic intervention that speaks to the manifold challenges facing our youth in a systematic, seamless and integrated manner, hence its implementation must not be delayed. As we said during our 22nd National Congress in 2004, the sum total of initiatives on youth development have not been comprehensive enough which explains why despite all interventions we have made this far, we still have youth constituting 70% of the unemployed in a country where unemployment is already unacceptably high.

As we approach the 2009 National General Elections, and later the Local Government Elections, we will once more mobilize the youth of our country behind the vision of the ANC for change. In doing so, we will highlight the achievements made by our government despite the various constraints that we continue to face, but also highlight the strategic interventions that our movement seeks to make to expedite their own development.

Key to our message is the emphasis on the role of the developmental State, one that must pro-actively intervene in favour of local development as opposed to reliance on world market forces to favour our development, a reality that has proved elusive.

Meeting in this 23rd National Congress, we noted the various global developments, some in line with our vision for change, while some contradicting our revolutionary values as a movement. We therefore re-iterate our movement`s stance on multilateral engagement on every challenge facing our region and world, as opposed to unilateral action by the dominant forces of the world.

On the situation in Zimbabwe we re-iterate the assertion of the Freedom Charter that stipulated that "no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people". Therefore our solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe is based on our own values of freedom of expression, right to freely vote and freedom of association. We re-iterate our position that the problems in Zimbabwe can best be solved by the people of Zimbabwe, and that we must be in solidarity with them as they attempt to do so. However, we unreservedly condemn the reported violence that makes democracy untenable in that country. Our public message to ZANU PF and the ZANU PF YL, is that no revolutionary movement worth its salt can ever seek to devour the same people whose cause it claims to champion. We therefore urge both main parties to the conflicts in Zimbabwe to seek peace while working for justice and democracy.

We also note the need for multilateral engagement on the challenges facing Western Sahara, Swaziland, Burma, Palestine and other areas. We also note the disasters that continue to befall the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, because of the unilateral invasions led by the imperialist forces of the USA. For us this is evidence that unilateralism spells disaster and must be opposed at all times because democracy cannot be imposed on a people.

We call on our government to speed up interventions that will cushion the poor against the escalating food prices. We noted that in our instance, the energy crisis facing the world is further exacerbated by the electricity crisis with much of the greatest pain suffered by the poorest of the poor in our communities. We call on government to continue with initiatives to speedily remedy the situation and commend it for the work already begun.

We also noted that as a movement, we have been faced with serious challenges in recent times, particularly towards the ANC 52nd National Conference in Polokwane. We noted the culture of striving for political interests at the expense of our democratic and organizational values as a movement that are creeping into our organization from the lowest to the highest levels of our structures. Again, we re-iterate our commitment in building strong structures of our movement as a whole, in order to make it an efficient machinery to mobilize our people behind our historic vision for change. This includes ensuring we build capable cadreship through thorough political education.

We also noted the continued violation of the rights of the ANC President, comrade Jacob Zuma, wherein State institutions, and seemingly to some extent members of the judiciary, unethically meddling in the execution of justice, to the extent that it has become clear that any further prosecution on the President will never result in any justice. The delays as well as what Judge Msimang referred to as moving from one disaster to another not only point to a deliberate political vendetta whose footprints are self evident, but also to a gross and serious miscarriage of justice. We will mobilize the youth of our country against this naked injustice.

As delegates to this 23rd National Congress, we again commit ourselves to working together and to promote unity amongst our membership and structures, and to further destroy the historic racial, gender and geographic disparities. We will endeavor to strengthen our branches so that they provide leadership in our communities to confront challenges of youth development, the prevalence of crime, the abuse of women and children, the lack of youth recreational facilities and to ensure that communities are part of solving their own problems.

We therefore commit ourselves to greater disciplined and revolutionary conduct, so that the ANCYL and our movement at large can forever be relevant to the challenges faced by our youth in particular and our people in general.