Address by the National Secretary of the Young Communist League, Buti Manamela, to the Jack Simons Branch of the YCL, Western Cape

Category: Speeches

Build a Mass-Based, Mass Rooted Youth organisation centred on youth development! Build the YCL Now

7 September 2004

Dearest Comrades,

In 2001 September 06, a delegation of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and Congress of South African Students (COSAS) was headed to the National Congress of SADTU in Durban. These were members of the National Executive Committee who were just elected at the Turfloop Congress.

These comrades were met with an unfortunate accident. In the car, the late President of SASCO, Comrade Siphiwe Zuma, passed on. This comrade and friend of mine departed this earth at an early age; he was destined for a better and bright future.

Before he passed on, Comrade Zuma had taught of the connection between theory and practice, and the fact that to forget one is to greatly compromise the other. He told of the fact that, in as much as Marx wrote extensively on Politics, Economy, Philosophy and other social sciences; he would have abandoned that work if he was called upon to practically advance the revolution elsewhere.

It is this connection between theory and practice, thought and action that Zuma had taught. We need to continue his legacy and transmit his traits into the YCL by building a vibrant and dynamic youth organisation. May his Soul Rest In Peace.

Chairperson, we firstly like to congratulate the Branch as one of the first and few branches in the province to launch. We also, as we saw your programme noticed that you discussed a number of issues that affects the workers on campus. We commend this branch for doing so.

There is a looming strike action in the Public Service. We need to ensure that the YCL is actively involved in that particular action. There are various significant issues that we should point out in relation to that strike.

Firstly, the ANC Manifestio had supported a strong public service, and that we cannot advocate for one on the one hand, whilst threatening to retrench workers if they persist to demand better wages.

Secondly, we as the public should ensure that as part of the broader demand for better public service, public servants are paid a living wage.

Thirdly, as part of our discussion with SADTU, we found out that the majority of teachers are youth and that the YCL has a responsibility to support them in their endeavours for a better wage.

We should support the Public Service strike; it is our duty to the immediate and long term course that we represent as Young Communist.

Comrades, we are emerging from a very successful congress of the ANCYL. In its midst, we are also celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the ANCYL. We emerge from that Congress with various issues remaining unresolved. From it, old ghosts sneaking out their heads and refusing to die. From it, political intolerance and ideological warfare the order of the day.

We say to those who believe that to scathe on the YCL so as to be celebrated as heroes has become unfashionable and constitute divisionism within and amongst the ANCYL and the YCL. We condemn such tendencies and if we are taught and treated with intolerance, we will learn and practice intolerance. If we are taught and treated with exclusionism, we will learn and practice exclusionism. The ANCYL is also our organisation.

We believe that we have made progress in our discussions with the President of the ANCYL and that we should maintain that. Otherwise, our major tasks as YCL cadres is to build a strong organisation and that is what I will be talking about.

This branch of the YCL, and many other branches and members of the YCL faces the challenge of building a strong and mass based organisation. in the early years of the launch of the SACP there was an intensive debate by on whether the Party should be mass-base or vanguard.

The YCL National Lekgotla resolved that our task is to build a mass-based, ever-present and dominant organisation. Period! This and other Branches of the YCL are faced with that challenge.
In executing this task we should recruit all young people, and not only young communists. We cannot afford to have some elitist youth organisation of well-read Marxists that locks itself in the board-room and engage with a discourse it has never experienced.

Our role is to recruit young workers in factories, universities, schools and everywhere else they can be found and impart on them the basic tenet of communism.

Central to the task of building a strong YCL is to ensure that it indeed remains a home for young communists. We should do so through an intensive Political Education programme. We are not referring to those comrades who believe that they have reached saturation and are therefore not prepared to learn, but to impress others of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Mihn and Stalin? s writings. Our task is to learn.

We need to ensure that we prepare youth for the struggle for Socialism. We further need to prepare them for taking the SACP to heights unimagined in this country, and Communism to proportions never reached in this world.

Our ideological orientation is quite clear. We are communists. We are the only YCL in the country, region and continent and we are proud of it. We will not be apologetic about the ideological and political orientation that we stand for.

We have to equally in the process raise consciousness towards the youth of the country, and for us to do that, we need to take YCL Campaigns forward. As we grow the YCL, we cannot afford to have members who are not actively involved in programmes of the organisation.

We have decided that the key campaign for us, this year, is the Free Education Campaign. We need to ensure that we keep the demand on the agenda of both SASCO and COSAS. The demand should also be extended to the Agenda of the Progressive Youth Alliance.

As we continue with the action that has already commenced, we should ensure that the campaign does not remain symbolic. That we will march annually, as some comrades have suggested, and then that is it, does not auger well with our ultimate intentions. The demand for Free Education cannot be met with success if our attitude remains that way.

What this would do will be to expose the fact that we want to score cheap political points. We are not in the gallery; we are not actors. This is not what we want. We need to encourage campaigns in institutions so as to maintain the momentum.

We also need to send a clear message as the YCL that we want Free Education, in our terms. We will not encourage Free Education that subjugates our society in the doldrums of capitalist ideology. Thus, we say, we will only pay for Free Education.

Branches of the YCL in campuses are central in that they assist us in forging a strong student and worker alliance. These branches should however not fall in the trap of being students organisations. What will be the use of having a YCL Branch of students if there are other students organisations in institutions of learning are existing. To tell youth the truth, our priority as the YCL has never been and will not be branches in institutions of learning. The challenge is to build the YCL in township and rural areas. But we need the students and workers unity that can be closely tied in cumpuses and the organic intellectual capacity that campuses can offer.

Lastly, chairperson, all branches of the YCL should actively participate in the SACP RED OCTOBER Campaign as a matter of must. We will participate in this campaign, raising issues that is central to the heart of the working class and the poor in rural South Africa, but most importantly, ensuring that the youth of the country are liberated from the abysmal sea of poverty and unemployment. We should raise issues of ownership, rather than reform. We should raise issues of the review of constitutional clause on private property rather than the sabotaged land reform.

If we fail in this discourse, the future will not and does not belong to us, but to doom!

Amandla!