25 May 2007

It is with a great sense of pride that we celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the formation of the Young Communist League of South Africa.

The Young Communist League first came to life at a time when our country was in the throes of rebellion with the great mineworkers strike in 1922. Though small in number, the work and influence of the first Young Communist League extended far and wide.

Through its vibrant and outspoken leaders, the Young Communist League created a culture of healthy internal and external debate which has remained consistent throughout its lifespan. This culture of debate is one of the most fundamental principles of Marxist parties around the world.

When the Young Communist League was banned together with the South African Communist Party in 1950, a light went out in youth politics in our country. Therefore, when the SACP took a decision at its 11 th Congress in 2002 to re-establish the YCL, the face of youth politics in South Africa underwent a seismic change.

Since its relaunch after 53 years in December 2003, the Young Communist League of South Africa has been in the forefront of important debates in our country, tackling the major issues and challenges confronting working class youth.

Its key programmes have included Education for All, the fight against HIV and AIDS, tackling unemployment and poverty, overcoming illiteracy and speaking out against human rights abuses.

Together with the ANC Youth league, it is also a key player in an alliance of youth organizations, articulating the views and interests of the youth.

The YCL has a proud history and since its reestablishment, its leadership has remained true to the vision and aspirations of their predecessors. In the context of our National Democratic Revolution, our tasks and challenges are plentiful, and the YCL has an important role to play in achieving our revolutionary tasks.

I urge the leadership and membership of the YCL to continue to march in the frontline of our battles to combat HIV and AIDS, illiteracy and unemployment, and to help create a healthy, learning and caring nation.

The YCL has the added task of helping to preserve the sacred cultures of the South African Communist Party – particularly that of stimulating debate in our movement, political education and keeping our revolutionary goals on track. With the help of the YCL, the traditions and cultures that defined our movement throughout the decades is being passed on to future generations.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Young Communist League of South Africa on this milestone anniversary and we look forward to many, many more years of youth activism under your custodianship.