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Viewpoint by Jessie Duarte

RACE AND ETHNICITY IN CONTEMPORARY SOUTH AFRICA BY JESSIE DUARTE

The relevance of this quote on an article dealing with issues in contemporary South Africa is to illustrate the warped nativism of conservative white America, who driven by prejudice and the ideology of white supremacy perceive themselves to be the legitimate “owners” of the USA. This narrative downplays the legitimate struggles of the Native Americans, African Americans and Latinos.

Viewpoint by Lynne Brown

MEDUPI IS NOT ONLY ABOUT BRICK AND MORTAR, IT IS A LIVING MONUMENT OF THE ANC'S COMMITMENT, ABILITY AND TENACITY TO CREATE A BETTER LIFE FOR ALL BY LYNNE BROWN

At the dawn of democracy the ANC-Government set an objective to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans through the provision of basic services and creation of decent employment opportunities. Energy is the life blood of development and is an enabler to the reducing poverty and increasing access to basic services.

Viewpoint by Malusi Gigaba

REPOSITIONING THE ANCYL FOR THE FUTURE: A STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE TOWARDS THE ANCYL NATIONAL CONGRESS BY MALUSI GIGABA

Preoccupation with the questions of the future - what it will be, how it shall be achieved and the social forces that must be mobilised and harnessed in its pursuit - places the youth at the very centre of every nation’s endeavours.

GOOD STORY TO TELL

 

VIEWPOINT BY JESSIE DUARTE

Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary South Africa

Comrade Jessie Duarte is the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC

In 2010, conservative Republican Senator from Arizona, Russell Pearce in motivating for Bill that would strip immigrants in the US of any rights said the following:

I saw the enormous fiscal and social costs that illegal immigration was imposing on my state. I saw Americans out of work, hospitals and schools overflowed and budgets strained. Most disturbingly, I saw my fellow citizens victimized by illegal, alien criminals”.

The relevance of this quote on an article dealing with issues in contemporary South Africa is to illustrate the warped nativism of conservative white America, who driven by prejudice and the ideology of white supremacy perceive themselves to be the legitimate “owners” of the USA. This narrative downplays the legitimate struggles of the Native Americans, African Americans and Latinos. The ideological basis of the views of a Russell Pearce is so embedded within sections of mainstream America that Donald Trump, campaigning on a ticket that mobilizes sentiment against the ‘other’ is currently the Republican front-runner for President.

Nativism as an ideology is witnessing a resurgence globally with significant negative impacts on the human rights and security of people viewed as being the outsider. The plight of migrants in Europe and also here in South Africa are testament to this. South Africa’s liberation struggle had different approaches to dealing with race and racial divisions. The New Unity Movement and others had a stance that suggested that the best way to deal with race and racism was to constantly debunk race as a construct and deal with how the ideology of white supremacy was using race as a means to divide people for the purposes of capitalist exploitation. The UDF and the ANC were of the view that we needed to acknowledge race based thinking, identities and ideologies as only through engaging with the realities of peoples self identification, which is referred to as a ‘false consciousness’ could we realistically build a society based on non-racialism.

Twenty-one years after liberation and after more than 100 years of struggling against colonialism, racism and working towards building a non-racial society, we are confronted with the resurgence of nativism, racism and ethnic divisions. The search for a positive identity amongst those classified as “coloured” under apartheid has led to the formations of movements seeking to self identify as Khoi and San and other essentially first peoples identities. When this self-identification is done as a means to reclaim a legitimate African identity it needs to be supported as it may lead to discussions important to the formation of a unifying African identity for all South Africans.

A unifying identity devoid of the legacy of the four nations theory of ‘Africans’, ‘Coloured’, ‘Indian’ and ‘White’, created by colonial - apartheid racist ideology.

There are, however, strands within embrace of a first people’s heritage and identity that has become divisive and that serves to entrench racism and ethnic chauvinism. This done through a deliberate differentiating from other black South Africans who are often described by some commentators in these movements as the marauding ‘bantus’ who migrated to South African from West Africa. When this negative approach is co-joined by a more overt Coloured Nationalism under the mantle of the ‘Kullid’ movements that appear to be positioned to oppose other black people and a black identity the positive search for identity descends into the kind of nativism so evidently displayed by the likes of Donald Trump. The same kind of nativism is unfortunately also evident in the narrow African nationalism discourses that still describe those South Africans classified as “coloured”, “Indian” and “European” as non-African. This brings about the anomalous situation where people are at the same time ‘South African’ but not ‘African’. When this is combined with the enduring racism informed by the ideology of white supremacy and a growing tribal consciousness then we are facing a South Africa with fragmented identities that are constantly at odds with the ‘other’ in our society.

Given this, it is time that we break from the kinds of narratives and ideologies from our past so that we can build a society that is truly anti-racist and more equal. This includes looking at what we as the ANC and as government are doing that may inadvertently be perpetuating racial, ethnic and tribal consciousness. This does not mean we should not implementing redress policies that seek to deal with the inequities of the past. The challenge we face is how can we build a more equal society, employing equity-based policies without continuing a racialised discourse and practice. The situation we find ourselves in, is aptly captured in the following statement by the late Neville Alexander:

The terribly simple fact is that “race” is not real; it is racial prejudice and race thinking that are real. By compelling us to declare whether we belong to this or that so-called “race”, the state forces us into a racial mould, whether we like it or not. Eventually, a racial habitus takes hold of us so that we take it for granted that we belong to this or that so-called “race” and we assume the relevant racial identity. This is what happened during the colonial-apartheid era and this is, preposterously, what continues to happen in post-apartheid South Africa..”

It is time that the ANC and the government it leads acts to break this racial habitus. This does not mean denying the inequities that we inherited and that persist based on the racism of the past as is argued within the liberal paradigm. We require innovative policy approaches that do not entrench the racial narratives of the past. As we engage with this growing negative nativism that co-exists with the old racist thinking and structures we inherited, we also need to discuss the other false ideology in our midst, which is cultural chauvinism. In particular, the accommodation of patriarchal notions of culture and power that provides political cover for the continued discrimination against women and sexual minorities in our society.

Note: This article first appeared in The New Age newspaper on the 31st August 2015

Viewpoint by Lynne Brown

VIEWPOINT: LYNNE BROWN

Comrade Lynne Brown is a member of the ANC NEC and Minister of Public Enterprises

 

Medupi is not only about brick and mortar, it is a living monument of the ANC’s commitment, ability and tenacity to create a better life for all

At the dawn of democracy the ANC-Government set an objective to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans through the provision of basic services and creation of decent employment opportunities. Energy is the life blood of development and is an enabler to the reducing poverty and increasing access to basic services.

The end of apartheid and the election of a new democratic Government in 1994 provided the impetus for all policy and institutional shifts underpinning the electrification programme. These shifts were necessary to address the historical racially-based disparity in the provision of key infrastructure. In 1994, only 34% of South Africans had access to electricity, the majority of which were white people. With the dawn of democracy came the added responsibility to connect every household which was denied access to the grid under the Apartheid regime. This essentially required that additional transmission and distribution infrastructure be made available to cater to the increased demand of connecting millions of households to the grid. This demand continued to increase without the requisite supply options being secured as the new democratic Government had to balance the cost of delivering many key priorities for a democratic South Africa including the provision of adequate health, education infrastructure and basic services to cater for the many millions of South Africans previously not catered for. Since 1994, over 89% of households now have access to electricity.

The historic disparity in delivering key infrastructure projects to the majority of South Africans has a significant bearing on the energy challenges experienced today

In 2005, Eskom was given an enormous mandate to construct major power stations in order to match the growing demand for energy due to the upswing in the economy and the rollout of the electrification programme.

In May 2007 construction started at Medupi Power Station in Lephalale, Limpopo. A week ago residents of Lephalale, Limpopo took centre stage when President Jacob Zuma joined dignitaries and the community in celebrating the commercial operation of Unit 6 of Medupi Power Station.

President Zuma said: “Pressure is being alleviated on the national electricity system to prevent or minimise load shedding. This is a very important milestone in Eskom’s growth trajectory towards the 4800 megawatt capacity that must be achieved at the completion of the other five units. The Medupi project is a living example of the pervasive impact and potential of our infrastructure projects with regard to stimulating the local economies, as it is the case here in Lephalale.

“The construction of this site jerked the economy of this area very significantly, in terms of job creation mainly, infrastructure development and social investment. The town of Lephalale’s GDP for example, has increased by about 95% per year as a result of the constructions.”

Unit 6 was first synchronised to the national grid on 2 March 2015. Medupi Unit 6, attained full power (800 MW) generated on 26 May 2015 and commercial operation on 23 August 2015.

One was dwarfed by the gigantic units towering over us. To give an example of its enormity the boiler house stands approximately 130m in height, equivalent to Sandton City in Johannesburg, while the pressure parts of the boiler are designed to last for 200 000 hours.

Further, more steel is being used than in the world’s tallest building, the Burj in Dubai. The Unit 6 boiler has so far used 20 200 tons of structural steel.Upon completion, Medupi will be the fourth-largest coal-fired plant and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world. This mega-project contributed to the creation of the first post-apartheid town. I can proudly say that Medupi Power Station has not only changed the landscape, but this sleeping giant in the north, will rank amongst the biggest achievements of the ANC-led Government.

Eskom currently has three mega projects in Medupi, Kusile and Ingula. The latter two are expected to become commercially operational from 2016.

In a similar fashion when the country experienced load shedding in the last quarter of 2014, Government came up with its five-point plan to address this shortage on the grid. The acceleration of Eskom’s build-programme was one of the key matters. The synchronisation of Medupi Unit’s 6 and its subsequent commercialisation became critical as part of the five-point plan.

Medupi Power Station is not only about brick and mortar. To build a structure of this magnitude, you need people. The ANC-led Government is committed to ensure that local people benefit at all times from capex programmes.

Eskom has invested R2.3billion in infrastructure development in Lephalale. This includes the building of 995 houses and the purchasing of a further 321 houses. Lephalale’s two sewage plants were upgraded and the provincial road that passed near the power station was diverted. Eskom also spent in the region of R815million on local site procurement contracts.

Skills development remains an integral part of this mega-project. To achieve the vision of skills development, the project has placed contractual obligations on its contractors to train 2 197 candidates in various trades and professions specific to the project, including, but not limited to, boiler making, coded welding, engineering, etc. To date, 2 513 people have completed their training and the majority of those are working within the project. This is a legacy of skills that will make people employable after construction is completed.

Furthermore, the Medupi Legacy Programme has invested R4.4billion in procurement and infrastructure development as part of Eskom’s goal of ensuring a positive socio-economic legacy for the area and its communities.The Medupi Legacy Programme has focused on ensuring localization of business. Contracts worth more than R83million have been awarded to businesses that are owned or controlled by black women, including security, general maintenance, housekeeping and landscaping.

To date, the Medupi Legacy Project:

  • Trained 38 business owners over the past two years, with another 15 currently in training.
  • Suppliers trained 700 artisans in boiler-making, coded welding and pipefitting.
  • Facilitated a joint venture between Fedics Site Services and Mooncloud 44 to create some 300 local jobs, producing more than 20 000 meals a day.
  • Protected the 5 200 Marapong workers through a joint venture with Born to Protect and Blue Magnolia that employs 137 security personnel.
  • The Medupi contractors have spent R1.3billion on procurement from Lephalale suppliers since the commencement of the project.

At the end of December 2014, as a direct result of Eskom business in the new build projects, 24 251 jobs were created by suppliers in Medupi, Kusile, Ingula and the Power Deliver Project (PDP).

Eskom should be commended for holding contractors accountable to ensure that they contribute jointly to benefit the community.

Some of the initiatives included:

  • Hitachi invested R1.2million in building Segwati crèche
  • Eskom invested R8.6million in a pediatric mobile unit for primary school health care.
  • Eskom invested R3.5million in the refurbishment and upgrading of the Seleka Community Hall and Traditional Offices.
  • Eskom invested over R620 000 in refurbishing Itereleng Creche in Marapong.
  • After the Olifantsdrift Primary School was damaged by storms, Eskom refurbished the School.
  • 62,6% construction workers on site are youth.
  • Hitachi has extended the Lephalale Further Education and Training College by investing a sum of R24 million in building the Tlhahlong Training Centre, where the training of the 700 artisans is undertaken as part of its ASGISA obligation. About 90% of the candidates at this facility come from within Limpopo province. To date, a total of 755 artisans have completed their training. 14 are currently in training and 450 are employed at the project.
  • Since 2011, a total of 74 emerging contractors and suppliers have successfully completed the Eskom Contractor Academy, a registered programme offered in partnership with the University of Limpopo. Eskom has spent about R6.1million on the training of these business owners, who can now apply their newly acquired skills to benefit their business and the community. Nine contractors and suppliers are currently in training.
  • A total of 28 other local business owners and agricultural co-operatives were trained, mentored, and coached by Ikusasa.
  • On an annual basis, approximately 1 500 learners from 23 local high schools visit Medupi as part of the Medupi Schools Outreach Programme. The project occasionally hosts higher education institutions requiring exposure to megaprojects such as Medupi, specifically for final-year engineering and environmental studies. To date, approximately 7 048 learners and students have been given an opportunity to visit the project.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MEDUPI

  • The project uses enough concrete to build four Greenpoint Stadiums. In excess of 1.2 million cubic metres (m3) of concrete had been placed. Medupi also has the largest concrete batching facility in South Africa and most probably in the southern hemisphere.
  • Parts and cement weighing the same as seven supertankers needed to be transported overland; the total distance to transport materials to site is equivalent to 20 times around the world.
  • Job creation peaked at over 18 000 direct construction and 2 000 supporting services jobs during construction.
  • The town of Lephalale’s gross domestic product has increased by about 95% per year as a result of the construction activities.
  • The power station will directly grow South Africa’s GDP by approximately 0.35% per year.
  • About 50% of the project cost is committed and spent in South Africa.
  • 22 340 meals are prepared and served daily, resulting in approximately six million meals served to the workforce on an annual basis.

Medupi, for generations to come will be a living monument of the commitment, ability and tenacity of the ANC’s objective of creating a better life for all.

Viewpoint by Malusi Gigaba

VIEWPOINT: MALUSI GIGABA

Comrade Malusi Gigaba is a member of the ANC NEC and Former President of the ANC Youth League

 

REPOSITIONING THE ANCYL FOR THE FUTURE: A Strategic Perspective Towards the ANCYL National Congress

In his 1944 article entitled, “Congress Youth League and Future Plans” published in Umteteli wa Bantu, Anton Lembede said:

“We are drawing up plans and laying foundations for a longer future than we can imagine.”

Preoccupation with the questions of the future - what it will be, how it shall be achieved and the social forces that must be mobilised and harnessed in its pursuit - places the youth at the very centre of every nation’s endeavours.

In essence, what this means is that for their sustenance and the perpetuation of their ideas and value systems, every class or social stratum, indeed, every society, must deliberately and consciously invest in the youth as the rising generation. After all, no revolution can be victorious without the effective education, organisation and mobilisation of the youth into political action.

At this National Congress, the ANCYL must finally and altogether exorcise the demon of its recent past which led to the dissolution of its NEC and must, more than anything else, chart a path into the future that will outlast the present challenges and generations. Delegates must confront candidly and through deep theoretical reflection, the factors that led to the current state of the ANCYL, creating the milieu in which the Congress shall be held.

Too much is at stake for our future, and no time must be wasted to get down to grappling with the tough and urgent business of the day. The last two years have created a political hiatus we are now called upon to close.

Accordingly, four inter-related questions rise to sharp prominence which will demand the attention of the Congress delegates:

  • 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.

Rebuilding the ANCYL must be about repositioning it at the very centre of youth struggles, sharpening its ideological and political orientation and strengthening and remoulding its organisational machinery as a potent force for revolutionary change and repository for the best youth in society.

It must continue in its role as a perennial political and organisational reservoir for ever newer recruits and cadres for the pursuit of the national democratic revolution. Its existence ensures that the ANC’s vision of the future is both transmitted to and translated for the newer generations of the youth so that it remains permanently relevant to them.

To do so requires that the ANCYL must be strong and ideologically, politically and organisationally sharpened to be able to confront the struggles of today and the future. It must continue to ground itself among the youth, placing itself at the centre of youth struggles, and particularly at the helm of the progressive youth movement.

For the battles ahead, we must attend to the issue of raising the calibre of the leadership and the all-round competencies of the youth, to impart to them the skills that are necessary for them to carry out their tasks as the shock troops of the revolution. Youth can play a meaningful role in the revolutionary movement only if there is a systematic cadre policy.

Such a cadre policy addresses fundamentally the question of converting the youth from activists into cadres - transforming them from quantity to quality. It will address simultaneously both the question of developing future leaders as well as deepening the ideological outlook of the youth in order to lend content to their militancy. They need to be moulded and socialised into progressive ideas and practice.

In this regard, the ANC’s Decade of the Cadre must be about the youth and the ANCYL must accordingly claim this decade as its own. Focus must be on intensive political education and extensive mass political work.

ANCYL members must singularly focus on the ANCYL itself, on its (political, ideological and organizational) renewal, and stop the rush to lead the ANC and / or to occupy public office. A balance must be struck in this regard.

Furthermore, the leadership layer of the ANCYL must be built from branches upward. In this regard, ANCYL should consider developing its own customised variant of “Through the Eye of the Needle” document, outlining who can and should lead the ANCYL and what are their characteristics! A youth organisation conscious and jealous of, and which cherishes its, role as the guardians of our future, a breeding ground for the future leadership of the ANC and our society, must be vigilant in terms of its leadership structures and the qualities of its leaders.

As an integral part of the revolutionary movement, the ANCYL is charged with the task of fulfilling the strategic objectives of the movement with the greater involvement of the youth. It must rally all the sectors of the youth to participate in the struggle for fundamental social change and champion their political and socio-economic interests. It has the responsibility of organising, mobilising and guiding all youth into participation in the revolutionary struggle.

Accordingly, it bridges the gap between the different generations of the youth and ensures that there is healthy tension between the various generations in such a way as to help imbue the youth with the experience and wisdom of the older and yet fire the older with the enthusiasm, the fearlessness and revolutionary zeal of the young.

The grooming of those who have to ensure that the genuine aspirations of the people are fully realised demands a conscious effort on the part of the movement. The execution of the tasks of the second phase of the transition cannot happen without the strong leadership of the ANC and the active and central participation of the ANCYL as the political home of the youth, the custodians of our future. The youth must lend their perspective to what we mean by “radical socio-economic change” and how they characterise the “second phase of the transition”.

The ANC must invest in the ANCYL and the progressive students’ movement. This requires engagement, presence and visibility on an on-going basis rather than intermittently. We must begin to take SRC elections in tertiary institutions serious. However, given recent experiences resulting from the contestation between the ANCYL AND SASCO during SRC elections, and the impact thereof, how should the question of these SRC elections be managed between the ANCYL and SASCO?

The ANCYL must be repositioned as the natural and only correct political home of all youth, male and female, black and white, drawn from all the sectors - working, students, professional and rural youth. To achieve this, it must continue to espouse the twin tasks; that is, rallying the youth into the struggle under the banner of the ANC as well as championing the political and socio-economic interests of the youth.

This means that, as well as being a political youth organisation with a broader political focus, the ANCYL must pay urgent attention to youth issues particularly such as youth unemployment, education and skills development and youth entrepreneurship, as well as others. Youth issues are the primary objective of the ANCYL and it must strike the necessary balance between broader political as well as youth issues. It must not be so vocal in political issues to the neglect of youth issues.

If it is thus conceded that the above are the broad strategic tasks of the ANCYL that is repositioning itself in the current conjuncture for the future, then it must be asked, what then should its character be given the tasks arising during the second phase of the transition?

Borrowing from the ANC Strategy and Tactics:

To carry out such tasks requires a progressive - militant and disciplined - youth movement which:

  1. understands the interconnection between political and socio-economic challenges in our society and accordingly between the imperative to rally the youth into politics and the struggle whilst championing their socio-economic interests in an integrated fashion;
  2. leads the youth motive forces of the NDR in pursuing their common aspirations and ensuring that their sectoral interests are linked to the broader strategic objective as characterised by the ANC;
  3. masters the terrain of electoral contest, utilises political power wielded by the ANC and uses its position within the ANC as such to advance the broader objectives of the NDR as well as the particular interests of the youth, and ensuring that by its participation in the ANC, it influences the wielding of state instruments in pursuit of youth interests;
  4. organises and mobilises the motive forces at large, and the youth motive forces in particular, and builds broader partnerships to drive the process of reconstruction and development, nation-building and reconciliation in general, and youth development and empowerment in particular; and
  5. conducts itself, both in its internal practices and in relation to society at large, particularly among the youth, in line with the ideals represented by the NDR and acts as a microcosm of the future.

Of great relevance is that a revolutionary youth movement understands, conceptualises and characterises itself not in relation to its members or individual leaders, but in relation to the revolutionary tasks it carries on its shoulders, which it must accomplish in history, as well as in relation to the historic mission of a generation.

The ANCYL must always understand that it is not a youth organisation of a modern parliamentary political party, but that of a progressive national liberation movement. This imposes on it the understanding of a particular character, responsibilities and role in society, among the youth as well as within the ANC itself.

Accordingly, its primary tasks remain the mobilisation of the youth in all their different classes, strata and sectors into the struggle under the banner of the ANC; and championing the political and socio-economic interests of the youth. This imposes on the ANCYL the responsibility more intensely to continue rallying all youth sectors behind the pursuit of a better life for all, with a particular bias towards the working class and the poor youth.

The three interrelated challenges of apartheid-colonialism - race, class and gender - still require both that the ANCYL should mobilise around the resolution of these issues, and hence rally into the struggle those social forces most interested in their fundamental and most sustainable resolution. It should recognise the leading role of the working class youth in the pursuit of fundamental social transformation.

In this context, the ANCYL is a disciplined and militant political organ of young revolutionary democrats of the movement, established to bring the youth into the ANC and, at the same time, bring the ANC to the youth. It represents and moulds the future of the ANC and our society all in all its best elements and helps to bridge the gap between the different generations of the movement.

As a militant youth formation, it eschews reformist struggles, neo-liberalism, ultra-leftism and anarchy, and places a high premium on revolutionary discipline of its cadres in particular and youth in general.

To fulfil its leadership role, it places a high premium on the involvement of its cadres in all centres of power in order to ensure that the voice and ideas of the youth are not marginalised, but resonate in the very mainstream of societal endeavour.

ANCYL activists must be found everywhere youth are found, everywhere being the custodians of the principles of fundamental social change; winning respect among their generation and society at large through their exemplary conduct and espousing the very ethos of the ANCYL.

Therefore, the character and strength of the ANCYL must continue to reside in and derive from its mass base. As the leading force among the youth, the ANCYL should continually improve its capacity and skill to influence and transform the instruments of power.

Given all the above tasks, it goes without saying, accordingly, that the ANCYL assumes the same broad character amongst the youth that the ANC assumes in society as a whole. Consequently, both in its character and leadership, the ANCYL must develop the political and organisational capacity to manage these different sectors and mediate their interests. These include the working youth, the unemployed youth, the student youth, as well as the professional / middle-stratum youth.

The character of the ANCYL will never be complete unless the organisation deliberately recruits young women into its ranks. South African women have always been active, across the generations, and their militants have been found in all the pillars of the struggle, during every epoch. Today’s young women face a unique challenge to lead and carry forward to completion the struggles of the women whilst still participating in the mainstream struggle so that they do not get marginalised. Actually, women’s issues must be placed into the very centre / mainstream of youth and broader struggles. The ANCYL must militantly take up the political, social and economic issues affecting young women.

Given the multifarious nature of its character, and that the sectoral interests of each of its social forces may from time-to-time clash, the ANCYL must develop the art and master the science of mediating between and managing these diverse interests to ensure that all these social forces pull in the same direction and appreciate the primacy of the common strategic interest and leadership of the working class.

In managing the clash between sectoral interests, it should remain steadfast to principle and, like the ANC, it must guard against attempts by any force to turn it into a hostage of narrow sectoral interests. This requires that the ANCYL, specifically its leadership echelons, must at all times be conscious of their responsibility to muster all the youth social forces towards the same direction. To achieve this, its members should continually improve their capacity - both political and technical - to act as the most advanced elements of society.

Given the very character of the ANCYL as a youth organisation, it essentially cannot avoid being the microcosm of the future and cannot, accordingly, afford becoming a fossil of the past, conservative and failing to appeal to ever-newer generations of the youth. By its nature, it must always strive to become the harbinger of the impending changes in broader society as well as in the direction and tempo of the struggle.

The ANC has always prided itself in being the broadest and most ardent representative of the youth. The ANCYL must pay conscious attention to this task because without it, the ANC will neither appeal to the youth nor will it have a guaranteed future. This lends enormous weight to how and where it recruits its members, how it nurtures them politically and how it raises their leadership and all-round competencies, how it constitutes its leadership collectives at every tier of the organisation and how it deploys its cadres and activists under the ANC umbrella in order to expand its influence.

The ANCYL must be keen not to create ‘social distance’ between its leaders and members, as well as between its organisation and the youth in general. It must retain the most dynamic contact between itself and the youth, live among them and ensure they are at all times not only attracted to its programmes and listen to its directives, but believe in the ANC and have faith in its programmes, principles, values and the future towards which it is leading them!

This means the ANCYL must never detract from its responsibility of being a “mass youth political organ of the ANC”. It must never be allowed degenerate into being an anti-ANC youth league. It is solely an ANC Youth League and must, whilst being organisationally autonomous, live by the principles and political injunctions of the ANC. The youth must never be confused about the ANCYL’s standpoint in relation to and allegiance to the ANC.

As a “body of opinion” within the ANC, it must express itself fearlessly on any matter of debate and discussion within the ANC. The militant voice and dynamism of youth must be felt and heard by the ANC on all matters and at all times.

At the same time, the youth must be prepared to listen to the wise counsel of the older, which means that the ANC itself must accept the sharp critical analysis of the youth on all matters presented to them. To preclude the ANC from descending into a political fossil that is irrelevant to society, ever-newer challenges and generations, it must always sharpen the ANCYL’s critical analysis and not blunt their constructive criticism and rebelliousness.

At the same time, youth cannot be treated as being of a homogeneous age category. They have different age-cohorts, which both share interests and diverge in terms of their location in the cohorts. The different youth cohorts remain vital to the sustenance of the ANC and ANCYL ideas among the youth and are found at different social locations in the society representing diverse experiences and outlooks.

This enables them to bring their diverse experiences to bear in the progressive youth movement, which can only help to enrich it and make it dynamic. This also assists to educate and provide political mentorship to the young. There could be healthy tensions between these different cohorts arising from their different experiences, perspectives, aspirations as well as ambitions, but the ANCYL must manage these.

The ANCYL needs to find creative ways to lead these different youth social forces in pursuing their common aspirations, ensuring that their sectoral interests are linked to the strategic objectives and harnessing their different talents towards a positive progressive movement for social change.

The vision for the rebuilding of the ANCYL having been established, what then are the elements of the programme it must pursue? What is outlined herein does not confine the ANCYL narrowly to youth issues, but highlights its tasks in terms of its mandate and accordingly programme. They include:

  1. Governance

1.1 Youth participation in governance straddles between the broader structures of governance - the executive, the legislature and administration - as well as statutory youth structures, that is, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

1.2 The NYDA must be viewed as a vehicle both directly and indirectly to empower the youth in terms of their socio-economic aspirations as well as to advocate in and coordinate with various government departments, agencies and institutions, including the private sector, in order to empower the youth, particularly the most disadvantaged.

1.3 The ANCYL must be very interested in how these function and must interface with them directly and receive regular reports from them in order to guide them.

1.4 The ANCYL must consistently interact with those of its members who are public representatives at municipal, provincial and national levels. Whilst they draw their mandate from the ANC Manifesto, these youth public representatives must be made to understand their specific youth mandate.

1.5 Furthermore, the ANCYL has members serving in state institutions in the administration. Ways must be found to ensure these are fed the ANCYL line and understand their broad mandate arising out of the ANCYL vision and programme.

  1. Economic Transformation

2.1 In relation to the youth, the biggest challenge is to engage them in productive economic activity. Three critical elements are vital towards this endeavour; that is, jobs, skills and entrepreneurship.

2.2 Youth employment needs to be prioritised and a sustainable long-term strategy must be developed to get the youth employed in the infrastructure programme particularly. Specific infrastructure programmes must be targeted at youth in order to get the youth employed.

2.3 Regarding skills development programmes,

  • government must double the NSFAS funding and demand of State-Owned Companies (SOC) to invest heavily towards skills development, particularly of artisans, at their learning academies; and
  • the ANCYL must campaign unrelentingly for free education, especially at junior degree level.

2.4 Youth participation in the economy cannot be confined to employment and skills development; they span to entrepreneurship. It is crucial to identify those strategic areas where the youth can be involved in entrepreneurship and industrialists’ development. These could include youth cooperatives forged around renewable energy, water and sanitation and others.

  1. Social Transformation

3.1 As well as being the strongest and most vociferous advocates of the National Health Insurance (NHI), the ANCYL must spearhead specific campaigns aimed at improving the general health status of the youth particularly through preventive health care and addressing poverty afflicting the youth, especially young women. Furthermore, the ANCYL must continue to occupy the space around preventable and communicable diseases, against with particular reference to young women who remain vulnerable. Fighting diseases is not just about defending the vulnerable, but it is about empowering them so they cease being vulnerable.

3.2 With regard to education,

  • The ANCYL must spearhead campaigns to popularise public education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institutions (TVETs);
  • TVETs must be linked particularly with State-Owned Companies (SOC) in order to ensure they can benefit from the vast capital resources and skilled human resources of the SOC, and further so that the skills they provide are the types of skills required in the economy; and
  • A vigorous campaign to fight the escalating cost of higher education must be waged, linked with the campaign to double or even treble NSFAS.

3.3 The ANCYL must spearhead campaigns for the establishment of vibrant and extensive school and community sports, as well as community and school sports and recreation centres, arts and culture centres, museums and other such sites that commemorate and immortalise our struggle.

3.4 Youth development is vital to ensuring that the historical deprivation of the youth, and their locking into the vicious cycle of poverty, is ended. There is an urgent need for youth development plans at municipal levels.

  1. Building a Progressive International Youth Movement in pursuit of the New World Order, particularly in Africa and the developing world

4.1 The ANCYL must,

  • spearhead the establishment of a progressive youth movement for Africa’s renewal, the seeds of which already in many countries, particularly in the former Frontline States,
  • engage the African students studying in South African universities, and thus consider opening membership to them so that they can belong to it and imbibe its progressive ideas and policies, and democratic political culture, and
  • continue to be an advocate for an international progressive youth movement, in which structures, its role and voice as Africa’s own champion must be vociferous and unequivocal.

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.

In conclusion, it is worthwhile to revert to Walter Sisulu’s Preface to the Anton Lembede biography in 1994:

“Fifty years after the founding of the Youth League, the message of Lembede, its first elected President remains clear: that it is the youth who have the capacity to renew the struggle, which today continues in a new form. It is the critical gaze of the youth who play the time-honoured role of re-examining the status quo, sometimes to the discomfort of the ‘old-guard.’ It is they who always had the capacity and energy to renew and reinvigorate the ANC so that its grassroots members could continue to play their rightful part in democratising our society. And, just as in Lembede’s generation, the youth also have the flexibility to scrutinise their own positions, and have the courage to adapt them to changing conditions if need be. These are important lessons to examine in the context of Lembede’s time, and to reconsider in the light of today’s historic moment.”

It is time for the ANCYL to shed the past and chart a longer future than we can imagine.

THE END

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