“Rebuild our movement: Socialism is the future, build it now!”
Chairperson of the session; Cde Senzeni Zokwana
Our General Secretary, cde Blade Nzimande
Entire Central committee;
YCLSA National Chairperson;Cde Mabuse
Entire National Committee;
ANC Leadership led by the National Chairperson; Cde Gwede;
COSATU CEC led by the General Secretary, Cde Ntshalintshali;
PYA Components here present;
Esteemed guests and delegates to this Special National Congress;
Please receive our warm and heart-felt revolutionary salutations on behalf of the 5th Congress National Committee and the more than 125 000 members of the YCLSA spread across the length and breadth of our country. Our Party meets Two-and-a-half-years after, we met in Birchwood, for our 14th National Congress. Despite the challenges could have been witnessed at that congress, our Party emerged successful, more resolute, united and determined to advance the struggle for Socialism in our Lifetime, through enabling and flexible Congress Resolutions. Today, we are here to assess the work done and further mandate our vanguard Party on its revolutionary responsibility towards its centenary and the 15th National Congress.
Granted, there were challenges. Even leading to this gathering there were tough and challenging moments but our Party maintained unity. There will always be differences on how to achieve our historical mandate. But these differences and challenges should never drive any of us, especially young communists, into abandoning that struggle for hegemony and power within our Party, the movement and society at large. We will stand side by side with the Party of Power and defend jealously its unity at all material times.
Our message to this 4th SNC is anchored on the clear articulation by the 3rd Congress National Committee of the YCLSA during the 13th Congress of the SACP. The YCLSA had this to say;
“We are the YCLSA of the SACP. We are formed as a result of the constitution of the SACP. The dynamism of the relationship between the SACP and the YCL, its dialectic, constitutional, political and programmatic nature is what has made the YCL what it is, and similarly had an impact on the current and future nature of the SACP.
If we are not close to the leadership and structures of the SACP, who should we be close to? …We have a platform to engage with our leadership. In fact, the average age of the membership of the SACP is youth. We will never define ourselves outside of the SACP because we are the SACP and its future. If we oppose the SACP in order to prove our autonomy, which we have as an integral part of the SACP, we will end up veering towards the oppositionists just because people claim that we are not independent.
Comrade General Secretary, young people in the YCL understand
s that we will do what Lenin instructed us to do. Learn! Learn and Learn! We do not suffer from a political and ideological learning deficiency to the extent that to prove that we have learnt, therefore reduce our role being to fight with the SACP in front of a conflict hungry media.
We understand that that this factory called the YCL, this university of beautiful young reds, this training ground for a future and socialist South Africa, just like all factories it will have its own factory faults, just like all universities it will have its own drop-outs, but we do our best at all times to produce the best proof cadres to take the baton from this leadership collective into the future.
Many young people are gradually finding hope in both the SACP and YCL`s slogans of “Socialism is the future: Build it Now” and “Socialism in our Lifetime”. As more and more young people find themselves locked in a future without jobs, education, quality public healthcare; they realise that the nightmare of capitalism has to be brought to an end and that the future of socialism is inevitable.”
This perspective must be strengthened and built into an unbreakable pillar of guidance for all YCLSA members in their relation with their Party at all levels as is with the Party members who should not even see the YCLSA at a distance or a threat but as part of their whole.
The 4th SNC meets under the Theme, “Rebuild our Movement; Socialism is the Future Build it Now”.
This instructive theme, characterises this conjecture and the challenges facing our revolution. The YCLSA believes that this is an urgent revolutionary task for the entire alliance components but more importantly for communists. We, who are meeting here today represent the aspirations of millions of South Africans who are directly affected by the interconnectedness between the history of underdevelopment, poverty and economic deprivationcreated by apartheid South Africa.
This crisis has further been deepened by the 2008 global financial crisis, with its effects still being felt by the poor a decade later. The implementation of and proposals for neo-liberal-austerity measures continue to wreak havoc across the globe and subject the working class, particularly the youth to dire situations.
Those that are; forced to endure hardships, evicted out of their homes and left landless, work in unbearable conditions and extreme exploitation, denied access to quality health care, forced into poverty through unemployment, rejected from institutions of higher learning, sacrificed at the alter by loan-sharks through reckless lending etc. continue to believe that Socialism is the answer to the brutality of capitalism. For them Socialism is not a fancy and /or a foreign concept.
It is about their lived reality. It is about clean running water, electricity, education, healthcare, economic and social justice, equality, housing, support for co-operatives and small enterprises, the participation of all people in the building of a better, humane and peaceful world, and an end to capitalism.
This SNC, should debate and consider the following areas as part of building momentum towards, capacity for and elements of socialism in our life-time by rebuilding our movement;
Confront Gender Based Violence and Femicide.
We present our message whilst the country concludes the 16 days of activism against women and children abuse. The first problem is when we make the fight against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide a seasonal issue. GBVF, which disproportionately affects women and girls, is systemic, and deeply entrenched in institutions, cultures and traditions in our country and the rest of the world. Ours must be a 365 activism in fighting against this scourge. Central to the conversation on GBVF must be the understanding that GBVF occurs as a result of normative role expectations and unequal power relationships between genders in society.
Gender relations are power relations. Patriarchy is a social and political system that treats men as superior to women – where women cannot protect their bodies, meet their basic needs, participate fully in society and men perpetrate violence against women and LBTQIA+ community with impunity. Therefore, unless we interrogate these power relations, the war on GBVF will yield no meaningful results for our country.
While there has been some degree of effort on the part of national government to deal with this crisis, the reality of the situation is that more needs to be done. We must unite and confront GBVF without fear or favour, no matter who is the perpetrator.
The Socialist state of Nicaragua reduced gender-based violence by more than 50% over 20 years through investment in funding interventions that matter and prioritising prevention over response. But the eradication of gender-based violence demands a different understanding to the one which prevails – one which characterises gender-based violence as simply a problem of crime. It is against this background, we lobby this congress to resolve on the Party convening Gender Summit which will seek to build a popular front to confront the scourge.
Deepen, Advance and Defend the National Democratic Revolution.
The South African Road to Socialism, remains our guiding compass, our tool of measuring progress, our influence to society and the working class, from time to time, we always, honestly gage ourselves through this programme. We need to assess how far we are in terms of addressing RACE, CLASS and GENDER contradictions. We believe that the contradictions of the National Democratic Revolution are persisting, especially within the National Liberation Movement, which have potential to wittingly or unwittingly affect the entire movement. This subversion of organisational democracy makes a mockery of established organisational processes which have always placed a premium on internal democracy, member control and the centrality of the branch in defining the direction and momentum of the revolution including the selection of its leaders.
In the quest to rebuild the movement, we need to take a clear stand against institutionalised factionalism, slate politics, personality cults, palace politics, and the use of patronage because these presents a real and unavoidable threat to our revolution. The YCLSA is concerned with the emergence of a phenomenon where members are denied the opportunity to critically assess the suitability of leaders to lead the revolution by taking them “through eye of the needle” to one when this task is abdicated to an elite that assesses the eligibility of candidates “through the eye of the master.” This is witnessed even during the process of electoral contest.
The country is faced with a fragmented working class and that has capacity to weaken the vanguard of the working class and its hegemony. The Party as a vanguard has a historical responsibility to unite the workers for working class hegemony. We cannot over emphasise the need for the Party to build an independent profile whilst building the broader movement in the quest of a socialist South Africa. The YCLSA has more responsibility than ever before to unite the progressive youth formations in the country and take centre stage of leading popular struggles in the interest of the youth strata. The challenges facing the PYA cannot be celebrated but at some stage it is external factors more than internal challenges.
We have witnessed renewed energy to take us back to the neo-liberal era of the class project. We remain opposed to any neo-liberal intervention that seeks to either brings backdoor-privatisation or under the guise of ‘business rescue’ while job security of workers is not guaranteed. State-owned enterprises are an important feature of a developmental state across the world, a call for the restructuring and a clear turn-around strategy is more necessary now.
Build people’s power for socialism.
We want to re-iterate the 14th congress resolution on SACP, State and Popular Power that “in principle we remain firmly committed to a revolutionary national democratic alliance, and a reconfigured alliance that re-affirms, in policy as well as in practice, the ANC’s own 2007 National Conference resolutions that “The alliance is the strategic political centre” (and not the ANC on its own). Furthermore, that the SACP has a leadership role in the struggle to build a reconfigured alliance , while recognising that we cannot place all of our hopes and expectations solely on a favourable in this regard.
We believe that in achieving a reconfigured alliance, some radical options must be considered as we owe our being to the working class and the revolution. It is our firm view that one of the strategic way to build capacity and momentum for attainment of state and popular power, and to realise a reconfigured alliance is through an electoral contest and this will never be the same with the call for leaving the alliance or contesting alone. In this regard, mass mobilisation and building of Party structures anchors the quest for popular power. What are the features that will convince the class to support the vanguard?
The vanguard of the working class must rise to the occasion and provide its historical responsibility of advancing and defending the revolution. As we gear towards the SACP’s centenary, we owed it to Moses Kotane, Joe Slovo, and Chris Hani, etc. to build a strong and vibrant Party of the workers that will represent their aspirations and change the political discourse in the interest of the working class. The working class is yearning for the vanguard Party that will always be on their side.
We will focus our energies on what unites us than what divides us. We cannot accomplish a generational mission with a disjointed youth voice. Young people must desist from fighting over who to be better patronized and be in the political pockets of the highest bidders. We must unite against high level of unemployment and unabated retrenchments mostly to the youth. The YCLSA will always fight for unity and cohesion of the broader movement however not at the expense of handing ourselves as sacrificial lamps for those who are obsessed with conspicuous consumption of the state resources and expecting everyone to bow to them and sell the working class.
Comrade chair, we thank you for this opportunity and we wish this congress fruitful and progressive deliberations.