Young revolutionaries to the front, to galvanise our youth around our Five Priorities
This month we celebrate the 34thanniversary of the 1976 student and youth uprisings in our country. As our May SACP Central Committee said, this period calls for true revolutionaries to come to the front, to deepen and consolidate the national democratic revolution. So is the SACP also calling upon all of South African youth - young women, young workers, students and our unemployed youth - to rededicate themselves to the struggle for the total elimination of all forms of racism, exploitation, gender oppression and all other forms of discrimination in South African society.
The SACP May Central Committee called for true revolutionaries to come to the front mainly because in so many ways our revolution is at a crossroads. Amongst other things the Political Report to the May Central Committee observed that:
"Our national democratic revolution has entered a critical phase in which the many advances made in the run up to, and especially since, the Polokwane conference (and indeed our own SACP 12th Congress) can either be deepened or face the danger of being seriously rolled back"
The Central Committee argued in this way principally because despite the many advances made there are serious threats to our revolution.
Some of the major advances upon which we need to consolidate our democracy are the lessons of the unity of all the components of our democratic movement - the workers, youth women, former MK soldiers, communists and civic formations; a unity that saw the reclaiming of the ANC in Polokwane by its constituent components.
The ANC's overwhelming electoral victory in 2009 re-affirmed the confidence of our people in the ANC-led alliance, and that electoral victory also marked a defeat of a right-wing ANC breakway faction - Cope - whose aim was to try and steal our movement for narrow and selfish interests to accumulate wealth. It is that electoral victory that has also laid the basis for the very deep crisis that threatens to tear this right wing breakway apart. Our youth has a responsibility to build on the achievements of this electoral victory.
We are commemorating the 34thanniversary of the 1976 uprisings just over a year after the inauguration of the administration led by President Zuma. It is a government founded upon, and focused on, the realization of the five key priorities of our ANC-led Alliance election manifesto - decent work, education, health, fighting against crime and corruption, and rural development. In order to achieve the above, government has also committed itself to the development of a new growth path in our country.
Between the Polokwane conference and the 2009 elections the Alliance held two successful summits, building upon the unity of all progressive forces under the leadership of the ANC.
However since the 2009 elections, despite very significant government plans and programmes and a better functioning alliance, a number of threats have emerged that threaten to undermine the advances we have made. The Central Committee highlighted three of these threats. The first one is that of an emerging, albeit small, white right wing trend that attempts to use our constitution and the courts to try and roll back and frustrate some of our programmes. This include the challenging of affirmative action in courts, the legal banning of revolutionary songs as part of an attempt to wipe out the history of our struggle, and a one-sided fight against crime directed at white farmers, whilst being completely silent about the daily brutalities (including those) faced by many black farm workers and farm dwellers in the hands of some racist white farmers.
The second threat identified by the Central Committee is the intensified exploitation and fragmentation of the working class, through casualisation, outsourcing, 'regionalisation' (increasing employment of more vulnerable workers from the SADC region at the direct expense of South African workers), and labour brokerage. This threatens to undermine the unity of the working class as the main motive force of the national democratic revolution. This is part of the capitalist class strategy to further cheapen and sow divisions within the black working class.
Another threat was identified by the Political Report to the May 2010 Central Committee thus:
"The emergence of a small tendency, both inside and outside the ranks of our movement, that seems to be in such a hurry to get rich quick such that it is even prepared to sacrifice the unity of the ANC and our alliance, if such unity stands in the way of its greed. 'Tenderpreneurship' - the collusion between business elements in the private sector with those in the public sector to corruptly capture government tenders - is one such manifestation of this 'get rich quick' mentality. Whilst tenderpreneurship is not inherently counter-revolutionary, it is nevertheless the most susceptible to degenerating into counter-revolution through its temptation to turn South Africa into one big tender liable to be sold to, and bought by, the highest imperialist bidder"
It is the youth that is most affected by the intensified exploitation and marginalization of the working class, and is also a particular target of tenderpreneurs. It is for these reasons that the period calls for young and genuine revolutionaries to come to the front to defend our revolution against these threats.
The role of the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL)
It is for the above reasons, amongst others, that the SACP has called upon our YCL to consciously strengthen itself and act as a glue that binds the Progressive Youth Alliance and the broader progressive youth movement behind the struggle to drive our five manifesto commitments. The SACP has committed itself to redouble its efforts to support the building of an even stronger YCL to attain these objectives, so that it gives leadership, direction and hope to our youth that still face many challenges today.
The SACP further calls upon the YCL not to be defocused by counter-revolutionary, populist demagoguery and tenderpreneurship diversions from its mission to mobilize our youth behind the key objectives of the national democratic revolution. Indeed our YCL is intensifying its efforts towards driving the key five priorities in our ANC-led election manifesto.
Last month, the YCL convened the first and historic summit of more than 80 youth organisations and youth NGOs, one of whose outcomes has been a resolution to launch the 'Jobs for Youth Coalition', and a Youth Charter, both to be launched this coming Saturday on 19 June 2010 in Sasolburg.
To this end the YCL is also commemorating this year's youth month under theme, 'Decent Jobs for Youth'. The focus is on education and skills development for youth, support for youth entrepeneurs and youth co-operatives, and campaigning for a new growth path that places at its centre youth development.
The SACP's call to the YCL during this 2010 Youth Month also include the following:
a. To earnestly work for the deepening of unity with the ANC Youth League and the broader Progressive Youth Alliance, not around personalities, but on a principled programme of action that addresses the many challenges facing our youth today; especially to takei forward the five priorities in our Manifesto. The resolutions of the YCL-convened jobs summit are also just such a platform for principled, and revolutionary youth activism South Africa requires today
b. The YCL should continue with its objective of uniting youth formations and the youth in general behind genuine working class struggles, irrespective of race and gender;
c. The YCL should be at the centre of mobilising white working class youth, as well as youth from other minorities, as part of the broad forces for deepening our democracy. Of particular importance for our YCL is to build upon the spirit of national unity generated by the FIFA World Cup, beyond just being a 'feel good' and a temporary phenomenon but into a permanent force for unity of our youth moving forward
d. The YCL has a particular responsibility to organize young workers into its ranks, through a principled struggle against tenderpreneurship, casualisation, outsourcing and labour brokerage, and by pursuing the agenda for decent work for the youth.
e. The YCL must be in the forefront of organizing unemployed youth through concrete struggles to fight unemployment
f. The YCL must also expand its presence in institutions of higher education, and much more urgently in the Further Education and Training Colleges, as part of turning these latter institutions into major sites for skills development for our young people
g. The YCL must intensify its efforts to root out all counter-revolutionary tendencies amongst our youth, and also be able to distinguish between revolutionary sounding rhetoric and genuine revolutionary action to transform South Africa to be a better country for our youth
h. The YCL must also pay particular attention in building youth power in the countryside, as part of driving rural development for the benefit of rural youth in particular, and the rural poplulation in general. This will require hard work in building YCL structures in the countryside, as part of implementing one of the SACP's major objective, that of building People's Land Committees (PLCs), both in the former Bantustans and the 'white' countryside.
i. Much more importantly, whilst the YCL focuses its energies into building and strengthening its own structures, it must ensure that it expands its influence beyond its own internal structures. It must take out its message to be taken to all the youth of our country, in a non-sectarian, but principled way to represent the aspirations of especially the overwhelming majority of working class and poor youth
The YCL, just like the SACP, must conduct itself not as the only formation of revolutionaries, but must instead seek to mobilize other revolutionaries outside its ranks who are also committed to transform the conditions of our youth in this country. This is the clarion call from the struggle and sacrifices of the youth of June 1976!
The task of the SACP, as it rebuilds its voting district based branches, is to ensure that we incorporate into this work dedicated support to build a stronger YCL and also to fully support its programmes.
Young revolutionaries to the front, to wage principled struggles to advance the objectives of changing the conditions of our youth!
Blade Nzimande is general secretary of the SACP. This article first appeared in the Party's online newsletter, Umsebenzi Online, June 17 2010
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