How we can be worthy successors of the class of 1976

2013-06-16 14:00

The level of youth development in South Africa today leaves much to be desired.

As we commemorate the 37th anniversary of the heroic deeds of the youth of 1976, we need to ask ourselves difficult questions about whether we are their worthy successors when it comes to a vision to uplift the lives of our people.

The youth of 1976 put life and limb on the line to achieve political freedom.

Today, our young people are also faced with huge challenges, albeit in different forms.

Our rate of unemployment indicates that 80% of the unemployed are young people.

The machinery that ought to be in place in the form of the National Youth Development Agency has failed us so far.

It’s difficult to take this agency seriously, given its reputation for wasting resources that ought to be directed at youth development.

Its new leadership, appointed after an unhelpful gap of months, has committed to change this situation, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

We cannot afford to let a structure like this fail.

Similarly, we cannot afford to have a weak ANC Youth League.

Any honest commentator, both within and without the league, will agree the league is at its lowest and weakest ebb since its unbanning.

The last term of office of the league’s leadership achieved more in terms of fanfare and bluster than it did in any programmes that affected the lives of young people.

There was too much emphasis on factional politics and many who found themselves on the wrong side of the dominant faction soon found themselves on the street.

We have disgraced our predecessors and we have not been worthy successors of the 1976 generation.

Our challenge is to learn from these mistakes and avoid them in future as we rebuild our youth movement.

We cannot sit back and feel sorry for ourselves.

The ANC Youth League’s national task team has a duty to revive and revitalise the league so that it can take its rightful place in the struggle for economic freedom.

An agent of change must be willing to be subjected to change itself.

This is what has seen us take decisive action to disband dysfunctional structures of the league in order to usher in a new start.

As leaders, we do not expect all our decisions to be worshipped by all – but decisions have to be made to ensure more time is spent on programmes and less on internal squabbles.

Our eyes are set on the question of land restitution, especially with the new approach towards this that the ANC adopted in Mangaung.

We will conduct debates across the country as we mark the 100th anniversary of the Natives Land Act.

We believe that if we do not resolve the land question, transformation will never be achieved.

The question of youth unemployment will also be firmly in our sights.

We will be working closely with municipal local economic development forums as well as various private and public sector bodies to put in place legacy projects that can ensure consistent interventions in this regard.

On the political front, we will campaign in the run up to next year’s general elections to ensure an ANC victory in all provinces, including Western Cape.

We will do everything in our power to make sure no one discredits the history of the 1976 generation.

We can translate their commitment to the liberation of our people to our tireless commitment to oppose monopoly capital and strengthen an entrepreneurial spirit among our youth, all in a quest for economic freedom in our lifetime.

If we do these things well and lift our people out of poverty, only then will we consider ourselves worthy successors of 1976.

»?Masuku is the national spokesperson of the ANC Youth League

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