YCLSA Virtual Youth Month Message Presented by the National Secretary, comrade Tinyiko Ntini
“Rebuilding the youth movement towards a youth-centered and socialist-orientated economy”
20 June 2020
SACP General Secretary, Cde Blade Nzimande;
Our National Chairperson, Cde Mabuse Mpe;
SASCO NEC Member, Cde Zandi Tshabalala;
COSATU YW Coordinator , Cde Xolani Fakude;
ANC NYTT Coordinator, Cde Sibongile Besani;
YCLSA National Committee;
Our Sub-national structures and membership at large;
We send our greetings from the oldest youth movement and first non-racial youth organization on the African continent – The Young Communist League of South Africa.
Today, we deliver our first virtual youth month message under the theme “Rebuilding the youth movement towards a youth centered socialist orientated economy”. Indeed, gone are the days where young people will merely be spectators in the battle of ideas, especially in discussions relating to the political economy.
The Soweto student uprising in 1976, the formation of the Young Communist League of South Africa in 1922, the formation of the ANCYL in 1944, the formation of the student movement in 1924, moreover the establishment of SASO and other youth formations during the apartheid struggle reflects a reality that young people never tolerated being mere spectators in the struggle against any form of oppression or injustice. Whilst they are a strata, but can agitate for any revolutionary cause.
We denounce the global scourge of racism and gender-based violence that is on the rise especially in South Africa since the Lockdown. No human being is important or superior to the other. We are all equal and we should all strive to fight for a society where humanity is equal in the political system, in the economy and socially, including before the law. Men must be the front-line soldiers to confront these barbaric and shameful acts of gender-based violence. What have we become as men?
All perpetrators of violence against women and children should be arrested and convicted.
Today we convene a virtual rally, a new phenomenon to the culture of the YCLSA merely because we are dealing with a global crisis – the Covid-19 pandemic that has resulted in the loss of lives across the world. We are now getting used to the new way of living the current normal that has existed for quite some time. This we must reject – the current normal is abnormal, and we have to fight for new normal, a new political reality, a new economic system, a new society.
The old normal – in a simpler sense, ‘the crisis before the crises’ is full of social and economic inequalities. Under this system – our education system is commodified both in terms of value and the curriculum content. It is a system that prefers young people from working class communities to live their academic-lives on the picket lines against the capitalist injustices and its education system, while children of the rich, because of their material advantage, are afforded sufficient time for their studies.
It is the crisis before the covid-19 crisis that thrives on retrenchments and unemployment to create a reserve army of labour, or surplus labour, to suppress the working class from understanding the realities that they do not earn according to what they produce. Instead, they are isolated from their communities, from their productive value and power by the capitalist system.
Despite this, we find the confidence and courage to commemorate the youth of 1976, those who lost their lives in the Boipatong June massacre of 1992, and also to reflect on the youth of today from the speech delivered by El Comandante Fidel Castro on the fourth anniversary of the Young Communist League in April 1992 when he said:
“Even in the Special Period, under the blockade and under the hostility and threats of the most powerful empire the world has ever known, our people are designing and building the most just humane society ever seen!”
We equally say that even under the cohesion of the two most brutal pandemics that our generation has ever experienced – which is Covid-19 and capitalism, we will continue to fight for the most just human society that humanity has ever seen.
Our youth month rally takes place just days before we commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Freedom Charter. The real Congress of the People that gathered in Kliptown, on the 25th of June 1955, paved a way for a basic programme of the type of society that we want to build.
As the Freedom Charter declared that “The People Shall Govern!” Not that ‘the markets shall govern’; not even a pool of a few black elites should be created under the guise of Radical Economic Transformation to accumulate wealth on behalf of the people. The Freedom charter believed in a people-centered inclusive economy, hence the people shall share in the wealth of our country.
The Freedom charter is against unemployment, it advocates for work for all. It says that:
- All who work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage agreements with their employers;
- The state shall recognize the right and duty of all to work, and to draw full unemployment benefits;
- Men and women of all races shall receive equal pay for equal work:
- There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers;
- Miners, domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the same rights as all others who work;
- Child labour, compound labour, the tot system and contract labour shall be abolished.
These are the ideals that we should promote as we work towards building a new socialist orientated economy.
Today, we want to send a strong warning to Tito Mboweni and his liberal folks not to undermine the youth and the working class in our country. Bretton Wood Institutions were established to build the hegemony of the imperialist countries post the Second World War. They can never be the first and ultimate solutions to rebuilding our economy post covid-19. Therefore, we need to build a new economy that is not dependent on the hegemony of these institutions, especially in our Macro Economic policy framework.
We equally want to caution factions within the body politic of the liberation movement that the rebuilding of the ANC Youth League has nothing to do with the appetite of individuals or factions for looting and corrupt activities. The rebuilding of the ANCYL should be about young people – their ambitions and aspirations – and building a better South Africa.
Our message for this Youth Month is centered on the theme “Rebuilding the youth movement towards a youth centered socialist orientated economy”. We have outlined immediate tasks for young communists in realizing the goal echoed by today’s theme.
Our immediate tasks as young communists are on:
- Building the Progressive Youth Movement;
- Mobilizing and rallying young people behind the SACP as the party of power;
- Participating in the battle of ideas to advance our ideals, especially that of our National Democratic Revolution;
- Building Working Class Hegemony in all sites of struggle;
- Agitating for a new youth centered economy;
- Deepening and advancing working class internationalism.
BUILDING THE PROGRESSIVE YOUTH MOVEMENT
We have a duty as aspirant communists to build the progressive youth movement ideologically through political education. Our immediate task in the progressive youth movement should be to conscientize young people of their struggles against the silent hijack of our structures for wrong reasons.
Our strategic left-ally, the South African Students Congress, is fighting a battle against narrow pseudo-left nationalists in institutions of higher learning. Every young communist should work towards the total hegemony of SASCO in SRC elections and no structure of the YCLSA should recognize itself as the enemy of the student movement.
Our relationship with SASCO is historical and ideological therefore cannot be compromised.
As young communists, we should always work towards the unity of young people, especially the working-class youth. We cannot celebrate divisions, especially in the progressive youth movement. The unity of COSAS as the first line of defense for our National Democratic Revolution is inviolable. The recent Progressive Youth Alliance secretariat meeting pledged to work relentlessly to ensure the unity of the learner movement.
We are pleased to note the renewed efforts by the ANC National Youth Task Team (ANC NYTT) in rebuilding the African National Congress Youth League. It is important to make a thorough analysis of the situation and be willing to rebuild from the foundation phase than an abrupt process just to satisfy individuals quench. Indeed, the PYA needs the ANC YL more than ever before in this task of rebuilding our economy. However, we will not stand back and watch while the rebuilding of the ANCYL is merged with factional interests of power mongers in the movement.
Even on this we say, we should not go back to crisis before the crises of the renewal process of the Young lions.
DEEPEN YOUTH MOBILIZATION BEHIND THE SACP AS THE PARTY OF POWER
We remain the youth-wing of the SACP and we have a duty of mobilizing young people behind the banner of the SACP. Moreover, every young communist should be part of the programmes of our Party and advance its ideals.
We have a duty to tow the line as disciplined Party cadres and always align ourselves to the principles, discipline and policies of the SACP.
As front-line soldiers in the struggle for socialism, we should work to entrench our Party in our communities and whilst rebuilding the movement, build an independent profile of the SACP as the vehicle to drive working class struggles.
The SACP is a Party of power – a Party for state power on behalf of the working class in South Africa. The Party must work on modalities in line with the Special National Congress resolution on the SACP and State Power. Towards Local Government Elections, the Party cannot be found supporting factional-parachuted candidates or defending wrong-doings in the name of rebuilding the movement especially in municipalities like Maluti a Phofung and Dr JS Moroka where the working class is under siege from rampant corruption to name a few.
Indeed, our understanding of a reconfigured alliance is not limited to electoral relations and state power is not limited to electoral contest; however, this remain one practical way of achieving both.
PARTICIPATING IN THE BATTLE OF IDEAS TO ADVANCE OUR IDEALS, ESPECIALLY THAT OF OUR NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION
Once again, the economic debate in our country has reached the peak – the ideological level. Liberals in our country asserts that once the economy is opened our problems will be solved. The Democratic Alliance has been screaming “open up the economy” since the first week of lockdown. Their liberal ideologues believe that people are dependent on the economy while the reality is that the economy is dependent on people.
In recent months, the right-wing has claimed that we cannot put the country under lockdown because people are going to die anyway. It is evident enough that capital does not care about fatalities in the mining sector instead mining bosses are focused on profit-maximization.
Well, the bottom line is that we care! And we refuse to go back to the crisis before the covid-19 crisis where capital simply does not care.
Ours is a class struggle, the struggles against racism is our struggle; the struggle against sexism, gender-based violence and patriarchy is our struggle; the struggle against the economic and social injustices produced by the racist capitalist economy, is our struggle.
We are the children of working class, and much as the liberal right-wing forces regards the 2008 global recession as a tiny mistake, for us as the working class and the poor, that is our daily reality. We experience recession every day; we are retrenched every day; we experience poverty every day, whether the capitalist economy is closed or opened.
Young communists have a duty to defend the working class against the false liberal pedagogy.
BUILDING WORKING CLASS HEGEMONY IN ALL SITES OF STRUGGLE AND AGITATING FOR A NEW YOUTH CENTERED ECONOMY
What do we mean by a new youth centered economy?
The SACP strategic perspectives as amended and adopted by the 9th National Congress in 1995 defined the new capitalist outlook and asserted that:
“The new crisis has compelled a profound restructuring of production.
Through the 1980s this restructuring of production has been taking place. Among its
most notable features are:
- The introduction of new technologies, with “knowledge intensive” industries
setting the pace (for example, the “computer revolution”);
- The substitution of many traditional raw materials by synthetics. This has caused a
reduction in demand for these traditional raw materials;
- “Globalisation” capital increasingly operating on a transnational scale,
focusing on production for global (that is, export) rather than domestic markets; making
investment decisions across national borders; and seeking access to materials and cheap
labour across the globe.”
We are still dealing with this crisis even today. We are not only dealing with the creation of surplus labour in the context of surplus production and the capitalist greed being the reason for the retrenchment of workers, but also an attempt to create surplus production through the replacement of human being as the primary source of production by new technologies.
Equally, we are also dealing the nature of social reproduction in the context the apartheid spatial landscape where the economy is concentrated in urban centers and rural areas remain isolated, hence we also need to locate the context of social reproduction in rural areas. The Marxist critique of the political economy has focused largely on the problematic path of accumulation and its politics, and we need to further entrench our knowledge and understanding of Marxism in this context.
Since the 2008 global economic recession, capitalists globally have been struggling to rehabilitate their economies, and South Africa is not immune from such a challenge.
Yes, we have made great strides in advancing the ideals of our National Democratic Revolution.
We managed to advocate for a basic income grant (Unemployment grant) and our focus should now be on how to sustain this grant beyond the covid-19 era or even the suggested 6 months. Further consider the basic living conditions for an individual.
However, youth unemployment remains high above 50% – meaning that for every 2 young people in the country- one is unemployed. This is our reality, a crisis that existed before the crisis of covid-19.
According to StatsSA, we are less educated than our parents; we are also unskilled and live in underdeveloped societies.
Now more than ever, we should advocate for a National Youth Service. A compulsory, comprehensive, inclusive and skills – driven national Youth Service Programme will have many advantages for the youth, especially youth development, social development and national development.
It will provide young people with valuable experience, knowledge and skills that will facilitate the transition into paid employment. It will bridge the transition between work and school. Young people should be empowered to be agents of change within the communities of which they live.
We need to confront the social-ills of crime, Alcohol and Substance Abuse in our communities.
We thank you!