COMMENT: We will never be diverted

2010-02-27 14:48

When we accepted the responsibility to lead the African National Congress Youth League two years ago, we were under no illusion that being President of the ANC Youth League will be an easy task. We were totally aware that we are stepping into the shoes of former ANC YL Presidents Anton Lembede, Ashby Peter Mda, Nelson Mandela, Robert Resha, Joe Matthews, Patrick Moloao, Peter Mokaba, and Fikile Mbalula. We were also bound with the responsibility to continue with the ideals of Oliver Tambo, Congress Mbatha and Walter Sisulu. These are heroic and courageous former leaders of the ANC YL who stood firm and never compromised principle even when the prize for such courage was death.

We accepted the responsibility of leading the ANC YL fully aware that young people in South Africa, particularly the unemployed and poverty-stricken youth look up to the Youth League will justifiable hope that one day their lives will change for the better because of what the Youth League does. We were fully aware that Youth League generations before us had the greatest impact in shaping history and are today the world most celebrated freedom fighters, icons and beacons of hope for the oppressed. We were also aware that one of the former Presidents of the ANC YL, Patrick Moloao died in combat, fighting for the liberation of the people of Zimbabwe and subsequently South Africa in the Wankie Spolile Campaigns in the late 1960s.

The conditions of struggle have definitely changed and present to us the most dynamic and possibly most complicated platform to fight for social and economic emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular. The founding generation of the ANC Youth League proclaimed Freedom in their lifetime and they did everything possible to realise freedom in their lifetime. They literally took up arms, were arrested, exiled, tortured, labelled criminals and terrorists, and isolated from their loved ones, yet they never surrendered the struggle to emancipate the oppressed and exploited people of South Africa. As this generation of youth, we are inspired by the founding generation of the ANC YL and carry upon us a responsibility to usher in economic freedom in our lifetime. Economic freedom means the total realisation of the Freedom Charter objectives, and we are under no illusion that such will be a easy task.

Like in all revolutions, we expected the sort of opposition and diversions we experienced over the past week, where the profit driven media spread damaging rumours and sought to question our integrity as leadership of the ANC YL. All sorts of slander was spread associated with the kind of work we do, somewhat with an undertone that wanted to link us to corrupt practices. In more than one instance, our principle and values have always been anti-corruption and our fight against corruption is not conducted in Newsrooms, but through open confrontation of corrupt tendencies. We have in more than one occasion called upon those who know corrupt individuals, both on the private and public sector to approach the leadership of the Youth League so that we expose them and report them to law enforcement agencies.

When two Sunday Newspapers published stories they both believed were exclusive and convinced were great exposition of myself in my responsibility as President of the ANC Youth League, the leadership collective decided to rapidly respond in order to dismiss the undertones that linked us to irregular and corrupt practices. Our rapid response was never about accounting to the media, but using the media as a channel to speak to our many members and supporters of the ANC so that they are not victims of profit driven media propaganda. We vigorously dealt with all the issues that were presented to us and when satisfied with the response of Youth League members and millions of supporters of the ANC, we closed the whole chapter to focus on other important tasks of the organisation.

Certain revelations came out in the process of engaging the entire discourse of media conducted lifestyle audits. First is the racist notion and supposition expressed by both black and white people that the success and progress of black youth in the post democratic dispensation is automatically a consequence of corruption. This notion should be openly confronted and exposed as it has potential to undermine our hard won freedom to participate actively in the economy.

Second is the notion that seeks to criminalise all entrepreneurs that provide services to government as inherently corrupt and unethical, and labelled tenderpreneurs who have no brain and skill to do anything productive. The question we should ask is who should provide services to the State if all black entrepreneurs who put up consulting and construction firms are going to be rubbished as inherently corrupt tenderpreneurs.

Thirdly is the possible reality that our friends in the struggle are not always our friends and have potential to donate one of their own to the opponents of change. The reality of the situation is that a insignificant and potentially dangerous group within the alliance was celebrating the fact that media scavengers as portrayed us as corrupt individuals. This tendency is reflected within calls to infiltrate the ANC in order to misguide it to something it is not. This calls upon all of us, particularly youth to be more vigilant and defend the national democratic revolution and the ANC.

As a concrete way forward, we have already mentioned that we will never allow young entrepreneurs to be intimidated out of doing legitimate and corrupt-free business, including through proving services to the State. These opportunities were denied to the African majority in the past and in the democratic dispensation, white dominated corporations in civil, construction and other vital sectors continue to treat qualified black people as non-entities and juniors to less qualified children of white owners of the means of production. Entrepreneurs should be more vigorous, more innovative and daring to bid for bigger projects from the State as a way of ensuring that majority of our people are properly skilled and enjoy economic opportunities that came with freedom. No one should ever be apologetic for providing quality service to the State when called upon to do so.

The confusion that we should categorically clarify though is that young people’s involvement in business activities is in no way opposed to our call for the Nationalisation of Mines. The Freedom Charter guarantees all people’s entry into professions and trade of their own choice in the context where Mines, banks and monopoly industries are transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole. We will never allow any sort of Right-wing and Left-wing distraction to overcome our determination to influence the nationalisation of Mines in our lifetime. Whilst not opposed to the lifestyle audits, our conviction is that the capitalist system is the one that should be audited and checked as how is it useful in the empowerment of our people and improvement of their living conditions. We will never loose focus and fight over insignificant amount of resources, whilst we have a bigger struggle to fight. Aluta Continua.

  • Julius Malema is ANC Youth League president.
    You will find a printed copy of his comment in City Press, page 2.

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