Speech delivered to the 2nd National Council of the YCLSA by the General Secretary of the SACP Cde Blade Nzimande

Category: Speeches

26 July 2013

Cde National Secretary of the YCL The National Chairperson The entire leadership of the YCL The 2nd Deputy General Secretary of the SACP and the entire SACP delegation The leadership of the ANC The President of COSATU Delegates to the 2nd National Council

It is indeed a pleasure for me, on behalf of the SACP Central Committee and the entire 170 000 members of the SACP, to address the 2nd National Council of uFasimba, our youth wing.

Since the relaunch of the YCL since 2003 we have witnessed extreme growth of the YCL and we wish to commend. We are also pleased with how the current generation of members and leadership has been able to overcome the challenges that confronted the YCL when it went to its 3rd National Congress. At the time of that congress in 2010, the new tendency was at its peak of contesting our organisations in order to capture them for their own narrow selfish accumulation regime.

May I also take this opportunity to request this the 2nd National Council, to rise and observe a moment of silence in honour of Cde Nkosiphendule Kolisile who served in the YCL SA steering committee and its first National Committee.

Comrade Chairperson and Delegates

Your National Council takes place at a very critical phase of our revolution. It is exactly a year since our groundbreaking 13th National Congress that adopted a thorough going updated political programme (SARS) with an overarching strategic theme for the period to 2017 being “Advance and Deepen Working Class Power and Hegemony in All Key Sites of Power and Influence”. This theme indeed is a dialectical progression of the first theme advacned in the MTV of “Building Working Class Power and Hegemony in Society”. It is not just enough to build but we must use the period leading up to 2017 and beyond to start making qualiatitaive advances.

The 13th Congress further elaborated the sites of power and other areas of influence.

Your National Council will have to respond to this clarion call made by our 13th National Congress by articualting clearly what are the organsiational and ideological tasks for the youth in respect of Advacning and Deeepening working clas power and hegenomy in the State, in the Economy, in the workplace, in our communities, on the international front, on the ideological sphere and on the battle of ideas and on the environment.

We hope that your council will approach this task with the seriousnes it deserves. We will come back to the issue in a moment.

Secondly your National Council takes places six months after the conclusion of the wtaershed 53rd National Conference of the ANC in Mangaung. The conference adopted a poltical programme of the ANC underpinend by a call for advancing a radical 2nd phase of our transition. We hope your national council will interact with the discussions and help us enrich further what exactly that radical phase must be. This we must do informed by our materialist approach that not all that sounds radical is indeed radical and not all that is radical in theory is indeed applicable to prevailing conditions. You would be required therefore to carry out a critical review of the global and national balance of forces and then come to a determination of what is doable in the prevailing circumstacnes.

Of course comrades we should be quick to warn agaisnt those who wish to engage in endless analysis and not act to better the lives of our people. Such opportunism could have undesirable consequences for the revolutionary programme we underatking. Similalry, we must be strong as the SACP and the YCL against those who are maming he loudest noise for action without reading the terrain properly. Comraes we have many today amongst us who offer the most revolutionary sounding phraes but in essence they are gambling with our hard won revolutionary victories.

Cde Chaiprerson

The them of your national council speaks to the challenges facing our youth today. The challenge of unemployment, access to education and better healthcare.

Let us situate our understanding of this issues by an ongoing anaylsis of the global capitlaist crisis that begun in 2008. In the early days of the capitalist crisis neo-liberal apologists wanted us to believe that this was just a minor problem of bad apples amongst the financial sector and they will be identified and rooted out. What we were also told was that there was a problem of bad regulation by government and governments worldwide where urged to tighten the regulatory framework and the global capitalist profitability would be restored.

Of course this was a wrong reading of what was happening. The worlds economists could not predict the crisis besides those who wore the Marxist/Leninist outlook as it is scientific. But because of the growing influence and truimphalism of neo-liberalism those who rang warnign bells where dismissed. At their peak, the neo-liberal apologist even wanted to convince us that captilaism had finally overcome its tendency to have booms and busts. It was upwards ever, backwards never, we were led to believe. Growth, growth and growth was preached to us even here at home by the GEAR disciples.

But the obsession with growth figures meant that countries where duped not to analyse what constituted that growth and what drove it. Unsustainable consumption levels which necessitated movement of investment away from productive sectors of the economy to where we see the domination today of the financial sector drove that growth. New methods where found for people to make money without investing in producing tangible goods. Speculation was the order of the day. New platforms where created for the middle class to consume more and more luxury goods and those constituted this growth. The poor got more and more marginalized and ultimately the bubble burst. Sadly it is the poor worldwide who are being made to pay for the fishing expeditions of the filthy rich – that`s how inhumane and criminal the system of capitalism is.

Five years down the line the situation has only worsened.

The global capitalist crisis is now in its second post-2012 phase characterized mainly by stagnation in the EU and a beginning of a faltering US recovery partly based on re-industrialisation, and exploitation of shale gas. Portfolio investors are starting to move back away from the so-called safe havens back to the United States. China`s growth has declined from double digits and China itself has started to undertake structural changes in its economy moving up value chains, lower end manufacturing going to “flying geese”, domestic market driven growth – all of this less mineral product intensive.

All of this resulted in mineral resources price boom passing its peak in 2012 and prices of many products start falling. This has had disastrous impact on our mining sector as growth declines and this impacts on GDP growth (SA not unique Brazil, Chile, Colombia among others similarly affected). As a result of these mining tax revenue have declined resulting in squeezing budgets and having a negative impact on profits. Consequently, mining companies have responded by cutting production (to raise prices) and downsizing. This is the context within which the ongoing labour unrests in mining sector need to be seen. The capitalist offensive has been particularly focused on the mining sector and on the National Union of Mineworkers – the largest affiliate of COSATU.

Of course when times were good, the mining bosses never shared with the working class, but now that times are bad it is the working class that is expected to pay the price, through retrenchments.

The sum total of this has been an exit of short-term capital from our country which exposes underlying deficit on current account of balance of payments and the currency devalues but not in an orderly fashion, rather in a more volatile way and by now overshooting. The classical economists in the like of the DA and the Governor of the Reserve Bank have mainly sought to explain this by laying blame on the government and particularly President Jacob Zuma

We should therefore reject the narrative advanced by opposition parties and business commentators that our present challenges are primarily the result of policy decisions by the South African government or actions of the trade union movement. Our challenges today are challenges in the main of the system of capitalism.

Cde Chairperson

The one social category that has been the single biggest casualty of neo-liberal capitalism has been the youth. Youth has been casualised, retrenched, labour brokered and thrown into the highest levels of youth unemployment since the Great Depression of the early 1930s. However, the sheer scale and intensity of youth unemployment, inactivity and under-employment globally is at a scale not seen since the industrial revolution.

The ILO in its 2013 report place youth unemployment rate globally at 12.6%. This means over 70 million young people are unemployed. Youth unemployment has reached its crisis proportions in Europe with close to 16 % of the population aged 18-24 neither in employment nor in education.

According to the Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2013, here at home, the following is worth singling out:

  1. The highest unemployment rate (32,1%) is observed among those who did not complete secondary education, while those with tertiary education has the lowest unemployment rate (9,8%)
  2. Approximately 3,5 million (33,5%) of the 10,4 million of the youth aged 15-24 years were not in employment, education or training in Q1: 2013, which indicates the vulnerability of this group.
  3. Job losses were concentrated in Trade (66 000), Construction (41 000), Finance and other business services (23 000), and Transport (3 000) industries. The largest increase in employment for Q1: 2013 was observed in Agriculture (54 000), followed by Community and social services (44 000), and Private households (29 000).
  4. Employment increased in seven of the nine provinces, with Limpopo (57 000), Mpumalanga (57 000) and Gauteng (44 000) being the biggest contributors.
  5. The only decline in employment was in the Western Cape (37 000).
    We are pulling this statistics just to make few points:

Firstly to amplify the point we made earlier about how the youth have been the moist hard hit by the crisis of capitalism here at home and globally. The generations of youth of Nelson Mandela and subsequent generations of the youth did not fight for this. Their dream has been badly betrayed by the barbaric system of capitalism.

Secondly, without playing into the neo-liberal paradigm of human capital theory, but to draw from our Marxist teachings on the issue of development of productive forces, to draw a link between the issue of access to education and the issue of work. If we allow ourselves to be dictated to by the human capital theory we will continue on a paradigm that spends billions of rands on short courses and call center agents courses training people who will never be able to add value to society. Ours is a radical education programme that first and foremost must liberate the human being but also build our productive capacity to meet the ever changing and growing needs of humanity. In line with SARS, that education must teach our people to produce taking into consideration the environmental conditions.

Whilst we have correctly pointed out the economic side of the capitalist crisis and the world has focused on that, humanity today faces a crisis of its long-term survival. The common source of both these crisis has it roots in the process of capital accumulation. The solution is only one – go beyond the regime of capitalism.

Similarly the crisis of youth unemployment is not a simple crisis of “Youth Wage Subsidy” or not as the DA and the analysts would want us to believe. The genesis of the crisis is in the system of capitalism itself and would require us to undertake systemic overhaul of the system.

Let us be clear about one-thing comrades, it is not the youth that the DA actually cares about and seems to be making noise about. It is the subsidy to capital that they are marching for. We must come out of this National Council with a clear articulation of the comprehensive strategy to address youth unemployment with has been called for in the youth accord. The accord correctly asserts that the strategy must be based on structural changes in the economy, addressing the issue of poor skills, weak infrastructure, monopolies and cartels. These are inhibitors that must be addressed and not right wing mobilization for a Youth Wage Subsidy – NB!! The premier of KZN has initiated a pilot of the youth wage subsidy. We must forge ahead and press for implementation of the six commitment areas in the youth accord.

Thirdly, we lifted up the figures from the QLFS to drive the point home about the significance of the infrastructure programme of our government. Clearly where we have witnessed growth in employment figures, Limpopo in particular, is attributable to the ongoing construction work at Medupi. It is therefore sacrosanct and we must act with outmost strategic finesse, that we drive the 18 Strategic Integrated Projects led by government to alleviate the question of youth unemployment and work exposure for youth.

It is worth noting that the private sector has now developed some interest in the SIP`s – they now want to eat like they did with the 2010 World Cup and various other construction tenders. No thank you!! Keep on salivating but we have a commitment to our young people not to your bulgy stomachs!

Of course comrades we must make the point that capitalism and democracy have always had a difficult relationship. Capitalism generates severe inequality and democracy is predicated upon political equality. Political equality is undermined by economic inequality.

We should never forget that capitalism only emerged from the last great global crisis (1929 – early 1930s), by plunging the world into war. Faced with recession in the early 1930s, many leading capitalist countries chose national re-armament, military expansionism, and fascist barbarism as their “stimulus pack- ages”. It was only out of the ruins of the ensuing Second World War, that a crisis- ridden global capitalism was finally able to embark upon its golden era of sustained growth (1945 -1973).

Today, faced with another crisis, capitalism have resorted to removing democratically elected leaders and replacing them with their preferred technocrats to run countries. Whatever his alleged contraventions they have killed Gadaffi and continue to sponsor the rebels in Syria.

In our own country, given that they find it possible to finance a civil war, the imperialist have created puppets political platforms and a vigilante trade union group that was established through the help of BHP Billiton. Today that group is killing our people and wants to wipe out the NUM by the bullet. We will defend the NUM with all what we have. Interestingly, we need to ask the question as to why these disruptions in the main are in concentrated in the Platinum belt.

Comrade delegates, people have established pseudo political parties with just one intention, this political parties have not any other objective to serve our people, but just one intention – to overthrow the ANC. Comrades we must not give space to counter-revolution to thrive in the name of democracy, this is not democracy but this is handing over our country to the highest bidder.

Let us go out and mobilise our people to see the DA, its black surrogates and pseudo political parties for what they are. We have always said from the begging that some of these people who posed as political analysts where not analysis but political agitators for a regime change.

Allow me chairperson to turn to the issue of education

In 2009 President Zuma decided to separate the then department of education and establish two departments, the department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training. Much investment has been made so far but we have seen a situation where we have not reaped the maximum benefits with our outcomes in so far as our schooling system is concerned. We have to mobilise our structures and communities to be a leading agent in this front as opposed to the current mentality of court challenges.

We are working hard to reverse the neo-liberal project that undermined the provision of post schooling education anywhere else but in Universities. Government managed to reverse the decision to do away with the NATED courses offered at our FET Colleges. This year work will begin on the two universities in Mpumalanga and here in the Northern Cape.

The NSFAS funding for FET Colleges has increased from R318 million in 2010 to R2 billion for students` bursaries in 2013. NSFAS bursaries for university education have increased from R2.2 billion in 2012 to R3.693 billion in 2013.

Much more needs to be done however to attend to the question of making sure that our universities are truly transformed and are indeed centre of excellence.

But we do need to talk about the organsiational and mobilization of a coherent working class agenda in our institutions of Higher learning. YCL has an important role to play in this regard. We need to be a co-ordinating aisle of a proper alliance between students and workers on our institutions of higher learning.

The Battle of Ideas!

Comrade Chairperson and delegates

We had commentators speak much about the forthcoming general elections and refer to the question of the so called born free. We are made to believe that there is a generation of our society that will vote not on the basis of owing allegiance to the heroic and revolutionary role played by the ANC to secure their voting rights. There is an idea planted in society to distance those born at a particular point in time from their history.

We have also witnessed an erosion of our revolutionary ethics and morality brought upon by new challenges of access to power. This erosion has potential to draw a wedge between our movement and its people. The ideas of selfness and sacrifice have been replaced by crass materialism.

Societal challenges and ills like crime especially against women are on the rise. Drug use amongst young people is on the rise.

All these phenomena, amplified on a daily basis by our bourgeois press will overtime erode our gains. It is against this backlgorund that our congress has elevated this issue of the Battle of ideas. We must struggle and work hard to expose the fallacy of the idea of the supremacy of the markets. We must explain to our youth and to our people, daily, in newspapers, in cinema, in artistic expression, in pamhplets and in song the importance of the revolutionary movement, its programme, its values and the egalitarian society we seek to build. Unless we do so a wrong idea will become dominant in society and will plant the seeds for counter-revolution.

We call on the YCL SA to take leaf from UJC and how it mobilised the youth of Cuba in defense of the sovereignty of their country and for Socialism. We need young communists to write, to play sport, to be involved in revolutionary graffiti, to use the social media spaces that have opened up to agitate and propagate for revolutionary ideas.

Build a strong PYA!

Comrade Chairperson and delegates

Youth activism and youth leadership had taken a new meaning in the recent past, a meaning that is foreign to the traditions of our movement. Leadership of youth was synonymous with tender chasing and insulting our leaders. The ANC NEC has assisted us and we now have a breadth of fresh air in the movement. In relation to the disbandment of the ANC YL the challenge now rests with young communists to be in the forefront to build a strong campaigning ANC YL that is true to the congress traditions and takes up the issues of young people, majority of whom are from a working class background and poor.

As part of building a strong and vibrant PYA we expect your national council to emerge with a clear programmatic goal on what will be the role of the YCL with respevct to young workers and the youth desks of COSATU affiliates that have established them.

Comrades we need to dedicated much work toward building a strong SASCO and a strong COSAS. As Che Guevera put it, “The basic clay of our work is the youth. We place our hope in them and prepare them to take the banner from our hands.”

We dare not allow our youth and their organisations to be hijacked.

With these few words, I wish you a successful National Council