17 November 2018, University of Cape Town
“I must say in the period of a victorious uprising, when the enemy is isolated and the uprising is growing, it is not difficult to fight well. At such moments even backward people become heroes. The proletarian struggle is not, however, an uninterrupted advance, an unbroken chain of victories, but one who, while fighting well during the victorious advance the revolution, also displays courage when the revolution is in retreat, when the proletarian suffers defeat, who does not lose his head and does not funk when the revolution suffers reverses, when the enemy achieve success, who does not become panic-stricken or give way to despair when the revolution is in a period of retreat. ‘J.V. Stalin 1924 (Trotskyism or Leninism)
Let me for and on behalf of the 4 th National Congress National Committee convey message of greetings to your esteemed Provincial Congress. The Western Cape is one of our strategic Province as the YCLSA and being the strategic Province comes with a lot of responsibility i.e. taking power from the opposition, more focus on political education, taking up campaigns that affects the class and young people in the Province.
We want first and foremost to thank the Provincial Interim Leadership Core, for the sterling work done to fulfil its mandate that was given by the National Committee of organizing, launching structures, strengthen relations with the Party and convening a Provincial Congress. We are fully aware that this was not an easy task but with the zeal and determination showed we are here today. Comrade’s delegates, it is also very important that we appreciate the work done and further appreciate that organizational building is an unending process.
The Provincial Congress is being convened when the revolution is experiencing the moments of regress on number of various front: the outcomes of the SRC Elections, the social grants debacle, the brazenness of the parasitic bourgeoisies or fight back strategists, rising petrol hikes, the state of Alliance and PYA as well as individual determination to delay the revolution. Our revolution is degenerating faster than we realizing, There is visibly pure factional approach on matters , the dominant debate is about who will be deployed where and when , white monopoly capital , who are the preferred candidates and youth leaders are being the drum majorette for the elders to push their factional agenda . These debates are self-serving and inward looking. There is a minimal debate about changing the conditions of the working class or on how do we unite our organizations so that they can indeed be a weapon to transform the people. The worrying trend is that there a number of members and leaders who are not interested to work towards uniting the movement or even to confront the challenges that have been identified especially problems of factionalism, gate-keeping , abuse of money , abuse of membership system and many other things which are tearing the movement apart. When false consciousness supersedes class consciousness, we must know that our revolution is on trial and we are heading for a disaster. When the revolution is on trial, it’s only a true revolutionary and a class conscious cadre, who can point out the problem and combat it if it is against the revolution and the people. The leadership of the working class and the fate of our revolution are primarily in the hands of the working class and its leadership, on what it does or fail to do. But the fate of the working class is exclusively in the hands of the working class itself.
Deepening Youth mobilization for socialism has been our mandate since our 4 th National Congress. Deepening Youth Mobilization for Socialism “is the call for the YCLSA to ensure that we engage forces in particular forces that we never engage so as they can appreciate the struggle for socialism. We must engage those forces as we consolidate, build, construct and strengthen our organization as a youth formation that focuses its energy in building socialism. This call is about unity for socialism, unity of the young communists, unity for the local and the international struggles of the working class. This is a call for action on the part of youth to continuously remain critical and expose the weaknesses and limitations of capitalism as a social, political and economic system. Let us live to the expectations of our strategic slogan “Socialism in our Lifetime”
We want to deepen youth mobilization so that young people in numbers can join the YCLSA, so that the youth the appreciate the struggle for socialism. As socialism is for the betterment of the lives of the working class. We want socialism as socialism is the only answer to the challenges that is facing the working class in our country. We want socialism as against capitalism. We want to crush capitalism to its knees. As part of the struggle for socialism, we want to mobilize young people to fight capitalism.
Comrades, it is important to always make a distinction on what kind of YCLSA that we are building. We are e building a YCLSA that is socialist in character , A Marxist-Leninist youth formation that derives its organizational guidance from the SACP, and takes its own decisions and shape its own policies and programmers which shall not be in conflict with the major policies and programmers of the SACP, We are building a non-racial and non-sexist youth formation, We are building a YCLSA that respects the principal position of its members and that constantly seeks to fully expand intra-organizational democracy, that safeguard the democratic rights of its members and that gives play to the initiative and creativity of its structures at all levels as well as its members.
We building an YCLSA that forbids all forms of factions, factionalism and personality cult.
THE LAND QUESTION
At its founding in 1921 the SACP adopted socialisation as its approach to the resolution of the property question in South Africa, this find expression in the strategies that the Party puts forward. In addition, the Party adopted expropriation from a human settlement point of view as a policy in its 1994 programme. Further, its 12 th Congress held in 2007 adopted in other words reiterated expropriation although from a point of view of agrarian transformation i.e. it is important nevertheless to emphasize the fact that land has many other uses other than agriculture e.g. mining is a land based economy, human settlement requires land, investment in factories, social and economic infrastructure etc. require land.
Since 1913, the land question in South Africa has revolved around the major inequalities in access to and rights over land between the black majority and the white minority of the population, and how these disparities should best be understood and overcome.
The roots of this inequality are commonly traced back to the promulgation of the Natives Land Act in June 1913, which provided the legal framework for the subsequent division of the country into a relatively prosperous white heartland and a cluster of increasingly impoverished black reserves on the periphery.
Historians have cautioned against according this legislation undue weight within the much longer history of colonization, capitalist penetration, and agrarian change that has shaped modern South Africa. The spatial divide of white core and black periphery has, however been central to the political economy of 20 th century South Africa. Beginning in the 1950’s the apartheid government attempted to maintain white hegemony, drive an urban-industrial economy, and deflect political resistance by turning these reserves into the ethnic homelands of African people. This involved increasingly repressive policies of urban influx control, population relocation, and tribalization of local administration in the reserves.
Since the 1994 democratic breakthrough, the post-apartheid state has struggled to develop an effective land reform program that can address the cross-cutting demands for land redistribution, local government and representative government that this history has bequeathed. For many years with these on-going challenges the land question remains unresolved s such this means something urgent and drastic need to be done to address the land question.
The land question and working class struggles
Land has always been central to the working class struggle for socialism and Marxism’s analysis of capitalism. The Marxist-led 1917 Russian Revolution was victorious under the slogan of “Bread, Peace and Land”. Armed with a radical programme for land redistribution, the working class led the millions-strong peasant majority in the defeat not only of capitalism but of landlordism too.
In his key work, Capital, published in 1867, Karl Marx explained that “the expropriation of the mass of the people from the soil forms the basis of the capitalist mode of production”. He explained that the capitalists found that people would not sell their labour if they could make a living from the land. They needed to be forced to work for the capitalists. Land dispossession was necessary for capitalism to create a class of wage workers, the exploitation of whom is the source of all capitalist profit. Marx described land dispossession (or “primitive accumulation”) as capitalism’s “original sin”.
The dispossession of the African people built upon the earlier dispossession of the European people. Indeed, it was the dispossession of the former that created the conditions for the dispossession of the latter. In Britain, the Industrial Revolution that created modern capitalism was made possible by the expulsion of millions from the land. Formerly self-sufficient peasants were forced into the factories as wage workers to create super-profits for the capitalists. These super-profits in turn led to the development of monopoly capitalism, the economic foundation of imperialism. In the late nineteenth century, driven by the pressure to find new markets for profitable investment, the imperialist European governments carved-up the world. This included the ‘Scramble for Africa’ and the incorporation of South Africa into the world capitalist economy.
Land and capitalism in the history of South Africa
The discovery of diamonds in South Africa in the 1860s, but especially gold in the 1880s, coincided with the maturing of European imperialism. Only the imperialist monopolies could supply the huge amounts of capital needed to make mining profitable. Its entrance into South Africa was a decisive watershed, transforming the entire economy, including the social relations on the land.
Before this, nominal ‘white’ ownership of much of South Africa’s land, including the existence of a small and wealthy white land-owning elite in the Western Cape, did not automatically mean African dispossession. In many cases Africans retained access to the land in one form or another. The white Afrikaners for example were overwhelmingly a peasant class. The output of their farms was often at little more than subsistence level and relied on family labour and semi-feudal labour relations with black tenants. Black peasants, who, out of necessity, had acquired private title to land, were often able to outcompete Afrikaner farmers. It was possible to make a living by selling produce and livestock on to the developing agricultural market.
To subordinate the entire economy to the interests of monopoly capital, British imperialism not only crushed the remaining independent African nations and emerging African peasantry, but defeated the independent Afrikaner republics militarily in the 1899-1902 South African War.
African and Afrikaner societies were both reconstructed to serve the interests of British imperialism. A supply of vast numbers of low-paid wage workers for the mining industry could best be supplied by preventing Africans from making a living from the land. This guaranteed that land dispossession accelerated. The demarcation of the ‘native reserves’, culminating in the 1913 Land Act, meant that for the black majority, access to land would in the future be fully on the terms dictated by capitalism.
The dislocation of the South African War and the economic laws of capitalism worked their destructive power on the Afrikaner farms too. Before 1890, 90% of Afrikaners lived in rural areas; by the 1930s, less than 50% did. Afrikaners were increasingly pushed into the towns, dispossessed themselves of the land stolen by their forefathers.
A new white agricultural capitalist class based on private ownership of the land, the employment of wage workers and production for sale on the market, was created in a top-down state-led effort from the turn of the twentieth century. Of course, those Afrikaner farmers who could adapt became the backbone of this new class. But the development of capitalism broke the link between the overwhelming majority of whites and the land whatever romantic notions exist today amongst both black and white nationalists. Today, only 8% of white people live in rural areas.
This history is important to draw attention to a fundamental mistake in analysis made by many nationalist organizations. Focusing only on ‘black vs. white’, they see nothing but continuity in the history of South Africa from 1652 up until today. They see that white settlers arrived and started stealing the land. By 1913 they had all the land that they could use, and today, they still have it. This seemingly ‘radical’ but ultimately superficial reading of history inevitably leads to the conclusion that whites in general are the reason why the vast majority of black people continue to have limited ownership of land, limited access to it, and little control over it.
But in class terms the history of South Africa since 1652 is not one of continuity. As we will explain below, the land, and the ability to make a living from it, is today monopolized by a tiny capitalist class. But because of their racial blinkers, nationalist organizations cannot see this. They therefore cannot characterize their enemy correctly and without understanding their enemy they cannot work out the tactics needed to defeat him. For this it is necessary to recognize the contradictions between the different classes on the land and in society in general – exactly the approach that so many nationalist organizations reject.
Who really controls the land?
In the chapters of Capital dealing with the question of land, Marx explained the tendency of capitalism to centralize capital and concentrate ownership. This economic process is at work on the land in South Africa. In 1996 there were 60,938 commercial farms, shrinking rapidly to 45,818 by 2002 as a result of the ANC government’s neo-liberal economic policies. Today there are estimated to be 36,000 commercial farms, expected to fall to just 15,000 within 20 years. As Marx explained in Capital, “one capitalist always kills many.” But further, in 2002, just 1,348 commercial farms (5% of the total) received over half of all commercial farm income. These are the big capitalist farmers that monopolies farming.
But it is not just the big commercial farms that control the land. In 2002, three multinationals controlled 90% of the maize, wheat and sorghum markets; in 2008 three multinationals controlled 86% of the fertilizer market; in 2007 80% of food processing was monopolized by four big businesses; in 2010 the big retail chains (e.g. Shoprite and Pick N Pay) controlled 68% of the food retail market. These capitalist monopolies super-exploit their own workers, squeeze consumers through their influence over prices, and push small and medium farmers out of business by monopolizing the market for farm inputs and the market for processing, marketing and selling farm produce.
These facts alone show that it is extremely imprecise to define those who own and control the land simply as “the whites” and to put forward the idea that “the whites must give back the land” as the solution to the land question. Those who own and control the land are not whites in general but a tiny monopolistic faction of the capitalist class. More, they are entirely parasitic. The monopolies described above are stock market listed. It is unlikely any of their shareholders have ever farmed or will even set foot on the farm they own. Many are multinationals whose shareholders could be anywhere in the world.
It would not be unreasonable to assume that the majority of these shareholders are white. But it is not their skin colour that is decisive. What is decisive is that they are private owners of land who use that ownership as an investment to make profit. It is the pursuit of their class self-interest on this capitalist economic foundation that explains their behavior, from the refusal to ‘share’ more land, to the raising of prices, driving down of wages, eviction of tenants etc. For the capitalists to survive against their competitors they can do nothing less. The same economic laws compel all capitalists whatever their skin colour. The idea that a black commercial farmer would somehow live in harmony with black workers, black consumers and black tenants are impossible on the basis of capitalism.
MARXIST-LENINIST APPROACH ON LEADERSHIP QUESTION
The question of leadership in a class-oriented formations especially the YCLSA is, will and always remain not a point of weakness. The Marxist-Leninist understand the question of leadership as part of organizational building and further understand the principle that leadership is not about individual, a class-oriented formation subscribe to collective leadership.
The Marxist-Leninist formations and its membership does not contest leadership but understand the leadership transition from one core of leadership to the other core of leadership.
As a revolutionary communist youth organization, the YCLSA needs revolutionary leaders and cadres. It should put in place leadership collectives that satisfy the character of the YCLSA. Broadly and collectively, YCLSA leaders should represent the nature and character of South African Youth which is overwhelmingly working class- despite recent attempts to suggest otherwise, the working class, because of its main grievance against exploitation, material interests, numbers, strategic location, organizational and revolutionary experience, is the only consistent class force in society capable to struggle against and defeat capitalism. In its theory and practice, the YCLSA cannot be any other class force other than this class.
The selection and election of leaders should reside firmly in the hands of the membership. This can only happen if there is open and frank discussions on these issues in a formal structure of the organization. Quiet and secret lobbying opens the movement to opportunism and even infiltration.
How do we ensure that this happens in actual practice? How do we ensure that the YCLSA conducts the task of electing leadership in a revolutionary and disciplined manner? How do we ensure that the electoral processes build consensus, unity and strengthen the YCLSA? As the YCLSA we must get this right from the beginning in order to ensure that we deal a decisive blow to political opportunism, individual ambition, negative lobbying,
promotion of friends, pursuit of selfish interests and using organization as a step-ladder towards self-enrichment, status and so on.
An individual with qualities of leadership does not seek to gain popularity by undermining those in positions of responsibility. Where such a member has a view on how to improve things or correct mistakes, s/he should state those views in constitutional structure and seek to win others to her/his own thinking. S/he should assist the organization as a whole to improve its work, and not stand aside to claim perfection out of inactivity. These are even more important in the communist movement.
BEING AN YCLSA MEMBER AND A LEADER MUST BE EARNED!
Like all revolutionaries at some time have to take up the work of leadership, and very likely he is already doing such work. Therefore, the work of leadership concerns leading a cadre at all levels, whether at a branch, District, Province and National must display indeed that they belong to the YCLSA. Revolutionaries are a product of the revolution. Revolutionaries don’t drop from the sky, they are a product of a revolution itself.
As outlined earlier the tasks of a branch and challenges facing young people ,the main tasks that confront us as we deepen youth mobilization for socialism in our country is how we going to carry ourselves as the leadership. As the leadership of the YCLSA, the supreme test to us currently is to display or rise to the standard and caliber of the YCLSA leader as we are preparing for our 5 th National Congress. At times we will have to suppress our personal ambitions to the ambitions of the organization that is the real test of the collective. At the current stage we require young communists to be politically reliable, moral upright and trusted by the people.
Young Communists must be firm in their ideals and convictions, willing to serve the people, diligent in work, ready to take on responsibilities, honest and upright.
To be firm on our ideals and convictions means all our members must cherish the lofty ideas of socialism , sincerely believe in Marxism-Leninism , strive ceaselessly in the struggle for socialism , and unswervingly defend the Party , defend YCLSA and uphold the basic theories, guideline , constitution,program,and requirements of a YCLSA member.
To be willing to serve the people means all YCLSA Members, must act as servants of the people, be loyal to the people, and serve people wholeheartedly.
To be diligent means all YCLSA Members must be dedicated, down-to-earth, realistic, take solid and tangible measures to make achievements that can prove their worth in practice, survive the scrutiny of the people and stand the test of time.
To be ready to take responsibilities means all YCLSA members must adhere to principles with a responsible attitude, and have the courage to take resolute actions in the face of major issues of principle, to tackle difficulties head-on in the face of conflicts, to step forward in the face of crises, to admit their share of mistake and to resolutely fight against misconduct. To be honest and upright means all YCLSA Members must adopt a cautious attitude towards the exercise of power by holding it in respect and keeping it under control in a bid to sustain their political life, and make constant efforts to maintain their political integrity against corruption.
These requirements might be easy to understand, but they are not so easy to fulfill, however these requirements should be fulfilled as we are in the battle front and deepening youth mobilization for socialism. Without political and ideological understanding these requirements we shall fail to accomplish the mandate given to us by the owners of the organization, the membership.
One of the defining moments in the organization is when a leadership elected on the basis of trust has been given the mandate to implement by the owners organization whether it subordinates its own personal feelings or ambition and implement the mandate unreservedly.
This should not be a case as communists at all material times should never place their personal interests as against the interest of the organization. The mandate given to us by the 3 rd National Council is a product of the broader consultation and debate which culminated to the resolutions. We dare not to fail the rank and file membership of the Young Communist League of South Africa.
Let’s hold the banner of Marxism-Leninism
Let’s work for peace and friendship amongst the people
Let’s strengthen the defense of our country against capitalist invasion
Let’s shatter the old world of slavery and exploitation
Let’s build and consolidate the new world of emancipation of labour and socialism.
Let’s build an effective and exciting Young Communist League
Let’s learn on our work to combine powerful revolutionary enthusiasm with the sustained
efficiency of communist party builders
Let’s be the worthy sons & daughters of our mother body, the South African Communist
We wish you a very robust and a successful Provincial Congress