12 December 2014, Cape Town
Comrade Yershen Pillay,
Deputy Chairperson of the South African Communist Party Cde Thulas Nxesi
Second Deputy President of COSATU Cde Zingisa Losi
National Secretary of the Young Communist League, Cde Buti Manamela
The Leadership of the ANC,
The Leadership of COSATU
Leadership of the Progressive Youth Alliance
I bring revolutionary greetings from the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress.
Let me take this opportunity to welcome all guests and representatives from our international fraternal organizations.
You are welcome and we thank you for coming to South Africa to observe proceedings at this important congress of the Young Communist League. Your presence here confirms what we have known for a long time that the struggle for socialism is an international struggle which cannot be conducted successfully by any one country in isolation.
This congress takes place just a week after we commemorated one year anniversary of the passing away of our icon, Isithwalandwe President Nelson Mandela.
It is important to continuously reflect on the life and times of this outstanding patriot and great son of Africa in order to draw lessons from him which will make us serve our people better.
In memory of Madiba we must recommit ourselves to the age-old values of our movement such as self-sacrifice, humility, service to the people, tolerance, discipline, hard-work and integrity.
Madiba was a unifying figure not just of our movement but also of our country as a whole.
In his memory, we must also work hard to preserve the unity of our movement and country. We must solidify the values which distinguish our movement from the rest such as the culture of open debate and democracy.
We must vow to fight against anything that seeks to undermine the type of society our dear Madiba fought so hard and was prepared to die for.
Comrades and friends
This congress is convened under the theme ‘Intensifying youth mobilization for socialism.’
This theme is important not only because young are a majority in our society but also because they are the most energetic, militant, radical and robust.
It is inconceivable that any revolution will succeed unless it draws and relies on the militant energies of the youth.
The mobilization and conscientization of young people will help accelerate the pace towards the establishment of the type of society envisioned by our forebears.
This is because, as we have said before, the creation of such a society is totally and absolutely dependent on the conscious actions of the politically advanced sections of our population.
We therefore fully agree with you on the importance of youth mobilization towards a national democratic society.
You must convince young people in the battlefield of ideas on various platforms be it Twitter or Facebook and all other social media which appeals to them, that the struggle waged by the ANC, SACP and COSATU was a just one.
The progressive youth are the inheritors of the legacy of Yusuf Dadoo, Nelson Mandela, Moses Kotane or JB Marks. They should analyse and understand the balance of forces and ensure that the revolution does not go astray in the midst of opportunism that abounds in the political environment.
In essence comrades, your role young communists is also to begin putting political analysis back into the national discourse, especially class analysis. The Young Communist League should be a platform that prepares young people ideologically. Members of the YCL are not expected to be just good in slogans. We expect you to analyse the material conditions and be able to provide answers to the many political problems and challenges we face.
One of the biggest challenges confronting our democratic movement is the dominant thinking championed by liberal parties which place greater emphasis on the rights of individuals above the collective interests of the people as a whole.
It is also this thinking that sets certain standards so that the success of our revolution is judged according to others rather than through our own yardstick.
Perhaps I should, by way of paraphrasing, remind you of what President Mandela said about liberal thinking. He said:
“The high-sounding principles enunciated by the Liberal Party, though apparently democratic and progressive in form, are essentially reactionary in content. They stand not for freedom of the people but for the adoption of more subtle systems of oppression and exploitation”.
Equally important is your task to relate the concept of socialism to the real issues and struggles young people contend with on a daily basis such as high unemployment, poverty and inequality.
You must do this bearing in mind what Amilcar Cabral meant when he said:
“People are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.”
In a much more pointed way, Former General Secretary of the SACP Comrade Chris Hani said:
“Socialism is not about big concepts and heavy theory. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about healthcare, it is about life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between the urban and rural areas.
“It is about a decent education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the market. As long as the economy is dominated by an unelected privileged few, the case for socialism will exist.”
Your overarching task as young communists is to interpret the objectives of our revolution to the masses of our people and to convince them of its necessity.
You must do this so that our people can become more and more involved in the cause of their own liberation, in this case, economic liberation.
The ownership and control of the means of production, including land remains high up on the agenda of the liberation movement. Our struggle will never be fully complete until economic liberation is achieved.
It is still a long road to the destination of a prosperous and equal society given the apartheid backlogs. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
Comrades and friends
Let me use this opportunity to also remind you of a paramount virtue – unity. At this congress, we urge you to work for the unity of all youth formations in the country. All progressive youth formations should work together with one goal in mind, to take forward the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.
This congress takes place as we conclude the first six months of the fifth democratic ANC administration.
In May 2014, South Africans gave a decisive and overwhelming mandate for the African National Congress to govern South Africa.
The 2014 General Elections reaffirmed South Africa as a stable democracy with a firmly entrenched human rights culture.
As a country we told the good story of a South Africa that is much better today than it was in 1994, particularly when it comes to the implementation of policies that favour the working class and the poor.
The year also saw the implementation of the 1st phase of the National Development Plan, our country’s blueprint to eradicate poverty, create full employment and reduce inequality by 2030.
We can confirm specifically that our infrastructure development programme is on track.
We are implementing the National Health Insurance Scheme at a number of pilot sites.
We have made good progress in meeting the Millenium Development Goals goals which include the eradication of extreme poverty, the achievement of universal primary education.
Much progress has been made towards attaining gender equality and the empowerment of women.
We have reduced child mortality, improved maternal health and reduced the burden of disease through primarily combating HIV and AIDS, malaria tuberculosis.
Our focus now is on radical socio-economic transformation to bring about the type of society envisioned in the Freedom Charter.
The 2014 General Elections Manifesto of the ANC was instructive. Now is the time for accelerated radical socio-economic transformation.
The Budget has been aligned with the Programme of Action to bring about radical change.
We are also reorientating State Owned Companies and Development Finance Institutions must be effective instruments for change. We have also taken measures to assist and revitalise the SOEs that are facing difficulties such as Eskom, SAA and the SA Post Office.
Energy security has been identified as a key growth driver of our economy. To this end we have identified and are responding to the challenges caused by the Eskom’s load shedding programme.
Since 2008, South Africa has been experiencing challenges with the regular disruptions in the supply of electricity. Such challenges have been as a result of amongst others, the rapid and unprecedented connection of millions of South Africans who were previously excluded from the electricity grid.
When South Africans celebrated twenty years of democracy this year, our country also marked the historic milestone of more than 11 million households having access to electricity; double the number of households with access to electricity in 1994.
This project of the fundamental transformation has not been without its share of problems.
Amongst these was it being carried out without the necessary concomitant investment being made to expand generation capacity and ensure energy security in the immediate future
Moving forward, we are accelerating the pace to bring Medupi and Kusile power stations on to the grid.
We are licensing Independent Power Producers. Projects in the region with the potential to produce power in the short term are being assessed and we continue to evaluate options with the intention to maximise all sources of energy including coal, gas, nuclear, solar and renewable energy options.
With regards to the ANC Youth League, following an assessment by the ANC, it was noted that while much work has been done by the National Task Team, it was decided that the ANC Youth League was not ready for an elective conference in 2014.
A decision was thus taken to convene a Consultative Conference in Johannesburg last month.
The ANC has established a Congress Preparatory Team with a mandate to convene a National Congress of the ANC Youth League in 2015.
The ANC remains committed to rebuilding a radical and militant ANC Youth League that is a critical body of opinion in the Congress movement tasked with delivery on its twin mission.
That mission is to mobilise the youth behind the historic and current mission of the African National Congress as well as to champion the needs and aspirations of the country’s youth within the ANC and society.
South Africa needs a strong, united, cohesive and focused ANC and a strong Alliance.
We will mark the 103rd anniversary of our glorious movement next month, and will reflect on the road travelled thus far and what we must do to strengthen and unite the ANC further so that it can lead this country to prosperity.
Therefore as a youth formation within the mass democratic movement, you have a responsibility to contribute to the renewal and cohesion of the ANC and the Alliance.
We wish you fruitful discussions which will make the YCL stronger than ever before as it emerges out of this congress, so that it can play its role in the Alliance and in broader society.
I thank you.