There is no hijack strategy

2011-06-11 14:46

Fiona Forde’s claims in last week’s City Press that the historical role of the ANC Youth League was to “all but hijack the ANC”, is preposterous and borders on a lack of understanding of the league’s ­history and that of the ANC itself.

Her charge that “a group of young men took it upon themselves to take action and found the league” is laughable.

The 1942 ANC conference took a ­conscious, deliberate resolution to found the youth movement, having studied the ­objective material conditions that ­obtained at the time. Young people had ­independently used their energies to oppose the system of white oppression of Africans.

A year later in 1943, little or no work was done and the 1943 ANC conference in ­Bloemfontein reaffirmed the resolution to found the Congress Youth League.

The ­seriousness of the resolution was ­buttressed through ­establishing the ­preparatory committee that comprised some members of the ANC leadership.

Upon its formation in 1944, the youth league declared in its manifesto that “the ­African youth are laying their services at the ­disposal of the national liberation movement, the ANC, in the firm belief, knowledge and conviction that the cause of Africa must and will be triumphant”.

How the idea of “hijacking” is arrived at baffles the mind!

Four years later in 1948, the league ­published its basic policy statement. The statement elucidates that, as part of its founding aims, the youth league was established to “­give force, direction and vigour to the struggle for African National Freedom by ­assisting, supporting and reinforcing the ­national movement – the ANC”.

At no stage since its formation did the youth league act in a manner, overt or covert, that sought to position itself as an alternative to the ANC or its agenda.

The league is an autonomous body of the ANC only regarding its administration. It is a critical body of opinion within ­the ANC and provides the youthful ­political debate imperative to the national ­democratic revolution.

In 1948, it had ­declared in its basic policy statement that “political ­democracy remains an empty form without substance unless it is properly grounded on a base of economic and, ­especially, industrial democracy”.

The currency of the public debate the ­youth league is leading on nationalisation of key sectors of the economy, starting with the ­mining sector, is therefore not a Julius ­Malema issue as the media and liberals would have us believe.

Malema is but the chief spokesperson of the ideas, decisions and ­resolutions of the organisation commensurate with his role as sitting president.

It is his constitutional duty, and we are happy that he is representing the ­organisation well.

The role of the youth league remains a twin-task responsibility – to rally young people behind the banner of the ANC and to champion the interests of young people.

This responsibility does not denigrate the existence of the league as a critical body of opinion within the ANC. In essence, we ­consciously strive to influence the ANC on policy matters that are decided by the same ruling party.

Pursuant to its championing of youth ­interests, the ANCYL not only bemoans the crisis of youth unemployment, but also ­actively offers practical solutions to ­attend to this problem and its attendant social ills.

Without addressing youth unemployment, the ideal of a South Africa that is prosperous will remain elusive.

David Mohale

ANCYL Free State provincial

executive committee member

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