3 July 2016, Johannesburg
Leadership of the SACP as led by its General Secretary, Leadership of the African National Congress, Leadership of COSATU as led by its President, Leadership of the Progressive Youth Alliance, Our National Chairperson, our esteemed National Committee Members, Our Provincial Secretary, together with Provincial Secretaries, Former Leaders of the YCLSA, Young revolutionaries who come from across the length and breadth of our country.
Receive our special profound revolutionary greetings from the 4th National Congress National Committee on this assembly of young revolutionaries during our month as youth of South Africa.
As we convene this rally, as the son and daughters of the communist heroes both sung and unsung who held the first and second batons as generation of the yclsa. We pay homage and remember them. These heroes include the likes of Mike Feldman, Norman and Leon Levy, Louis and Sadie Forman, Esther Barsel, Paul Joseph, Duma Nokwe,Barney Fauler,Eric Launter,Harold Wolpe,Thomas Mbeki, JN Sigh, Willie Kulk,Stanley Silwana,Sara Sable( the first National secretary of YCLSA), Eddie Rough, Moses Mabhida, Joe Slovo, Ruth First(the second National Secretary),Chris Hani, Moses Kotane, whom we continue to pay homage and remember as we continue with the baton that they have left to those who came before us.
On this youth month rally, we say to the youth of our country, please receive a declaration of Intentions, Motives and Views of the Youth Communist League of South Africa
“No amount of skill or care on the part of those engaged in youth development work will eradicate the problems of underserved youth. Racism, drugs, violence, poverty, and lack of resources are root problems that will not disappear quickly. What we can do, however, is demonstrate the value of these young people and empower them by providing choices for better decisions about relations in schooling and doing the right thing.”-T. Martinek, in the epilogue to Youth Development and Physical Education
South Africa’s history of Colonialism, Apartheid and Segregation has led to institutionalized and systemic poverty, inequality, unemployment and underdevelopment requiring a decisive state-led response to redress the imbalances of the past. The brutal and fascist, white monopoly Apartheid regime, systemically dehumanized and underdeveloped black South Africans as part of ensuring a conveyor belt of future labour for the extraction of surplus value with the ultimate objective of ensuring the economy remains solely owned and controlled by white monopoly capital.
The legacies of colonialism, apartheid and segregation have produced and reproduced the challenges of youth unemployment, poor quality education, lack of skills, high levels of HIV/AIDS, and low levels of entrepreneurship amongst the youth. It is no wonder that despite significant strides since the advent of democracy in 1994, the majority of young South Africans remain doubtful of a better life endowed with education, skills, jobs and opportunities for social and economic progress.
Youth constitute a significant, growing and distinct group in society. Much can be said about how society views youth. The way in which society views youth is critical to shaping perceptions by the adult population and how youths view themselves. There are three contending social perspectives on youth; youth as consumers in society, youth as problems to society and youth as assets to society.
Youth must lead their own development and the state must support. Youth must be at the forefront of building schools, libraries and community centers as community builders and leaders of society. Young South Africans must never destroy or damage buildings such as schools or hospitals simply because of anger and frustration due to the lack of access to these buildings or to demand something else. Youth anger must be challenged strategically where youth build and not destroy where youth repair and not damage and where all youth are intellectually and productively militant and not destructively emotional.
This manifesto constitutes a declaration of intentions, motives and views of the Young Communist League of South Africa in advancing youth development on ten fronts. Young women, youth with disabilities, youth from rural areas and poor, working class youth are prioritized in all of the ten fronts:
CREATING MORE JOBS FOR YOUTH
South Africa is one of the youngest countries in the world and our youth population is growing at a faster rate than the adult population but it is also growing at a faster rate than employment creation. This makes the challenge of job creation for youth in particular an apex priority for political stability as well as socio-economic growth and development. Wage employment in South Africa is not growing fast enough to absorb the millions of youth looking for work.
It is important to contextualize youth unemployment as not something that is new or unique. Youth unemployment in South Africa has been on the rise since the late 1970s rising to almost 20% in the early 1980s. The challenge of youth unemployment is furthermore not a local challenge but a global one. Many countries throughout the world are facing the challenge of increasing youth unemployment rates. Many countries across the globe are struggling to create jobs for their youth populations. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates global youth unemployment at over 75 million young people worldwide.
The biggest challenge that we face as a country is how to help young people walk through the front door of the labour market and into decent jobs as well as other sustainable economic opportunities. The albatross of youth unemployment cannot fall squarely on the shoulders of government. There is also no single actor that can meaningfully and comprehensively create jobs for all youth in need. All social partners must contribute to addressing both demand and supply side causes of youth unemployment.
NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE
Youth unemployment is the most pressing issue facing young people of today and is public enemy number one. One could argue that youth unemployment has become the primary threat to the national democratic revolution. To advance the NDR requires a more dedicated focus on job creation for the youth and affirming youth employment creation as an apex priority of society, not just of government. Youth development must become the business of all stakeholders in society.
There is a need to develop and implement a Compulsory, Comprehensive, Inclusive and Skills-driven National Youth Service Programme. Many countries throughout the world have implemented structured national youth service programmes as a large scale intervention to bring about immediate relief for youth who have no employment or are not registered in an institution of higher learning. Youth service can be used as an effective strategy for youth development, national development and social cohesion. Many young people are actively involved in cleaning up their communities, tutoring and mentorship or particular forms of social work. This helps in positioning young people as active agents for community development as opposed to passive recipients or being part of the problem. A South African National Youth Service Programme with specific and relevant local youth service programmes can radically enhance the capabilities inherent in youth.
A Compulsory, Comprehensive, Inclusive and Skills – driven National Youth Service Programme can have many advantages for youth development, social development and national development. One of the most important advantages is the value it provides to the participant in the form of valuable experience, knowledge and skills that will facilitate the transition into paid employment.
Mainstreaming youth service can reduce the economic and social cost of risky behavior and build the necessary social capital required for nation building. Mainstreaming youth service is critical to the nation’s developmental agenda and therefore every government department should develop and implement a national youth service programme. By 2020, a minimum of 1 000 000 young South Africans should be enrolled and actively participating in the South African National Youth Service Programme. Government should Institute a “Proud to Serve Campaign” in which young people will be enrolled as volunteers in partnership with NGOs into structured youth service programmes ranging from child care, community cleanup programmes and the maintenance of public infrastructure.
In order for the strategic goals and objectives of a National Youth Service programme to be completely and comprehensively realized, a National Youth Service Act should be legislated. The National Youth Service Act should make it compulsory for unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 24years of age to be enrolled on local or national youth service programmes. The Act should provide the principles and values underlying a South African National Youth Service Programme and regulate the approach of government in developing and implementing national and local youth service programmes. By making national youth service compulsory for unemployed youth, the country can stand to benefit from a more skilled, productive and patriotic youth population.
IMPROVING ACCESS AND SUCCESS IN EDUCATION
Education is arguably the single most important investment to make as a country if we are serious about job creation and sustainable development. However, education must be treated as an ideology and not as a neutral phenomenon. During the dark days of Apartheid we have seen how education was used as an instrument of oppression and it was only after 1994 that we initiated the process of opening the doors of learning for all and the use of education as an instrument of liberation. Education today is a basic need and we must intensify the implementation of free, quality and relevant education for all.
As part of making education fashionable, a culture of academic excellence and increased access to education for youth from poor households and youth in rural areas must be prioritized in the second, more radical phase of the NDR. The majority of youth in South Africa demonstrated a disturbingly low proficiency in key skills such as numeracy and literacy. South Africa came 10th out of 15 countries in Southern Africa in reading and 8th in mathematics, this despite the fact that we spend more resources on education than any of the 15 countries surveyed. Poor youth in South Africa are performing worse than equally poor youth in other countries in the region.
SOCIAL COHESION AND NATION BUILDING
Religion and Science agree that there is only one race and that is the human race. There are no other races. There is no biological basis for categories of race except to say that it is a political and social construct in terms of which power, wealth and social position can be assigned to. Ultimately there is only one nation and that is the nation of humanity.
What is needed is more education in human values. Especially for our youth who must be taught from a very early age that we are all the same. We must work tirelessly to build a more humane society. The construction of a more humane society requires an adequate balance of unity in dialogue and unity in action. Unity in action is cultivated through non-racialism in action given our dark and racially divided past as a country. What we need is non-racialism in action, not only in thought. We need to practice non-racialism in every thought, in every word and in every action.
We need to create an identity and purpose which is strong and accepted by all, this will unite people around a process of building a future that belongs to all. For example, if all youth united around the common goal of eradicating poverty, unemployment and inequality in order to secure humanly coexistence in the future, we would eventually arrive at a point where our society is as cohesive as we desire it to be.
YOUTH ENTERPRISES AND COOPERATIVES DEVELOPMENT
To address some of the major socio-economic challenges we face as a country such as job creation and poverty alleviation requires a larger cohort of young entrepreneurs. This is simply because entrepreneurs create new enterprises, new enterprises create more jobs and more jobs leads to more household income.
Many countries have promoted the formation and growth of cooperatives as a means to address youth unemployment. Cooperatives worldwide have created more than 800 million jobs. They create jobs because members are allowed to pool resources, ideas and capital for collective growth and prosperity. Cooperatives therefore have a distinct employment creating potential that differs from other forms of enterprise.
Cooperatives can provide decent work opportunities because they allow members to determine for themselves under which conditions they wish to work. This is of course the extreme opposite of exploitation of one by another as experienced under capitalist orientated forms of enterprise. Thus cooperatives provide a viable option for decent job creation and the realization of a living wage. Cooperatives locally and internationally have always had a stronger commitment to empowered governance and involving their workers in decision-making. These are highly valuable characteristics in the enterprises that will make up a more sustainable and inclusive economy.
Mentorship is a necessary and vital front for youth development. Many young people lack the necessary support and role models to grow and develop into successful citizens. Mentoring allows young people to benefit from the knowledge and experience of experienced citizens whom they would not normally have access to. In many parts of the world businesses are started with the financial support of family and friends and with this support comes advice, mentorship and access to markets. However, this is not the case for many aspiring young entrepreneurs and cooperatives in South Africa.
In the context of youth entrepreneurship, mentors provide motivation, guidance and advice to young entrepreneurs in the management of their businesses. They work alongside the young entrepreneur or cooperative to ensure that the In the workplace, mentorship can provide a means for improving job retention and workplace satisfaction.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
The health and wellbeing of young people demonstrates the extent to which the country can achieve its development goals as youth represent the present and future human and social capital of any country. Despite the efforts and resources invested in South Africa’s healthcare system, the indicators of a healthy nation remain unacceptably high. South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS, the prevalence of this disease being highest amongst young people. As of 2013, the prevalence rate for youth between the ages of 15 to 24 was 8.5%. This represents a decline from the HIV prevalence rate of 13.6% in 2002 but remains unacceptably high.
Waging a War against Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Alcohol and drug abuse amongst youth is at volcanic levels requiring immediate attention. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 15% of South Africa’s population has a drug problem. Drug abuse in the country is twice the world norm and a World Drug Report had named South Africa as one of the drug capitals of the world. The abuse of alcohol and usage of dagga has led to the country being one of the top ten narcotics and alcohol abusers in the world. Drug abuse is costing the country approximately R20 billion a year and could pose a bigger threat to the country’s future than the Aids pandemic.
Alcohol and drug abuse results in mental, emotional, biological or physical, social and economic instability. The effects of substance abuse amongst youth forms the basis of its increasing negative effects on society. The continued patterns of harmful abuse of alcohol and drugs amongst the youth must be brought to an end.
YOUTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Environmental sustainability for sustainable development must be an apex priority of the state. Environmental sustainability is important for youth development and national development. The environment is an integral part of our lives. We need to preserve it while using it for our day to day activities. Effective and efficient natural resource management, solid waste management and the use of renewable energy is essential for sustainable development.
Green Jobs are a means of achieving sustainable economic development and environmental sustainability. Green jobs are fundamentally more equitable and inclusive. The Youth Employment Accord has determined a youth target set aside of 60% of all jobs in the Green economy to be allocated for youth. This target should be increased to 80% and government should institute closer monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that indeed the target is met and young people are meaningfully employed in the sector.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND ICT FOR YOUTH
The world today is deeply interconnected through the advancements made in the space of information and communications technology or ICT. Youth are one of the major stakeholders of this development. Their engagement with ICT development and their attainments of literacy in ICT will determine their future and ultimately that of the country. Enabling youth to enjoy electricity, telecommunication facilities and ICT, will open the door for them to link with the rest of the world, debate and discuss their ideas on development, and then make informed contributions to the transformation programme of the country. While enabling youth to use IT and telecommunication facilities, it is essential to develop their skills in using them effectively and efficiently.
SPORT AND RECREATION
All young people should have equal access to all sporting codes. All sporting codes should be equitably promoted as part of building a more cohesive, socialist and humane society and ultimately advancing towards communism.
There are multiple social benefits of sport for youth which may include decreased crime levels, increased self – esteem and heightened voluntary community participation. Sport and recreational activities have the potential to empower youth and reduce social exclusion. There is certainly a positive correlation between sport and social cohesion. One of the most important values of sport is the creation of social ties between youth of different races and cultural backgrounds. Thus sport as a social policy is critical for nation building and youth development.
Let’s go out and tell the youth of our country, to tell South African people, to tell the students that YCLSA has developed a Youth Manifesto. We call all people both old and young, we call all youth formations including the media to engage us and to add their views so that this manifesto not only become YCLSA but to be a Youth Manifesto for the youth of our country.
Let’s go out and tell the people, tell students and tell the youth that socialism is the people and those who are afraid of socialism are afraid of themselves.
Socialism in our life time. Amandla!