Closing Address by the President of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema on the Ocassion of the 23rd National Congress of the ANCYL Johannesburg June 29 2008
President of the African National Congress, Cde Jacob Zuma Members of the ANC National Executive Committee National Executive Committee of the ANC Youth League Delegates to the 23rd National Congress of the ANCYL Comrades and compatriots
Today marks the conclusion of the 23rd National Congress of the ANC Youth League that commenced its business in Mangaung on the 2nd of April 2008. We have now reached the logical conclusion of this important congress, having executed our task to chart a way forward for the next three years and to elect the totality of the National Executive Committee. True to the longstanding culture and tradition of the ANCYL, as delegates you conducted yourselves in an exemplary manner and demonstrated that you are truly deserving heirs of the custody and future of both the African National Congress and of South Africa.
The scavengers that circle above us looking for dead bodies will truly be disappointed. The doomsday prophets that predicted that the roof will come down have nothing to say.
The resolutions passed by this Congress are a compass to guide the new leadership in the undertaking of its mandate. The robustness that characterised the debates in the commissions give us the confidence that the ANC Youth League remains a militant organ of the ANC and a champion for the aspirations of South Africa's youth. While we may be walking in the footsteps of giants like Anton Lembede, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, history requires of us to make our own footprints and make our own contribution to advancing the vision of the ANC. Ours is therefore not to clone these great revolutionaries, but to take forward their legacy by writing our own chapter in the Youth League's history the best way we know how.
The unbecoming conduct we witnessed by some delegates at Mangaung was unprecedented and represents a culture, which has no place in the ANC Youth League. Thugs and hooligans who believe they can hold the organisation to ransom through their despicable behaviour will be dealt with in the harshest possible manner. The code of conduct contained in the ANCYL constitution is unambiguous about the kind of conduct that is acceptable of a cadre of the Youth League, and this does not include exposing bare bums and hurling chairs at leadership and fellow delegates. Anybody who believes otherwise clearly does not belong to the ANCYL and is not worthy of carrying its membership card.
When the former ANCYL President, Cde Mbalula apologised unreservedly to our mother body, the ANC and to South Africa at large, he was echoing our collective sentiment. We therefore reiterate his apology, to the ANC and to South Africa at large, these delegates gathered here offer their unreserved apology and pledge that organisational discipline will remain uppermost on our organisation-building agenda.
As we conclude the business of this 23rd National Congress, we must not be detracted from the task at hand to place youth development at the centre of our national development agenda. It is our expectation that as we return to our respective Provinces and localities, we will focus our energies and attention at the issues at hand and breathe life to these resolutions in order to take our youth movement forward.
The last week has seen our media taking the notion of trivia to new heights never seen before. The hullaballoo surrounding our statement at Thaba-Nchu where we proclaimed our unstinting commitment to defending the ANC President, Cde Jacob Zuma, with everything at our disposal, was nothing more than a desperate ploy to paint the Youth League as a bunch of irresponsible hooligans. We must proclaim loud and clear, that for as long as the ANC remains a ruling party, the President of the ANC will be the President of the Republic. Cde Jacob Zuma will not only be the face of the ANC Election Campaign in 2009, but will become South Africa's next President. We will defeat the political campaign that seeks to stop his ascendancy to the Union Buildings. We have assembled a team of legal brains to mount a robust legal challenge on the validity of the NPA case against our President. The sham of the investigation against him which has lasted 7 years has been so badly tainted that t he prospects of a fair trial is nothing but an illusion. In 2003 the Public Protector found that the ANC President's rights had been violated by the NPA's conduct, with particular reference to his right to dignity. It is our considered view that the NPA conduct in this investigation constituted abuse of the country's judiciary and effectively obliterated chances of Cde Zuma getting a fair trial. We will therefore challenge the courts to dismiss this case on these grounds. Interestingly, the Human Rights Commission, an important organ of state charged with defending our Constitution allowed itself to become party to this circus that does nothing for our democracy.
Statements attributed to some of its senior executives send a worrying signal about the calibre of leadership at the helm of such important institutions. It is our expectation of the HRC to rise above petty politics and execute its mandate diligently without fear or favour, and this includes ensuring that the rights of the ANC President, Cde Jacob Zuma are protected. When the Public Protector pronounced that Zuma's rights had been violated in the process of the ongoing investigation by the NPA, where was the HRC? When some members of the police continue to brutalise our people and abuse their rights, where is the HRC? When white racists continue to mete out racist practices with impunity and express disdain at our constitutional provisions of non-racism, where is the HRC? When farm workers continue to be treated as second-class citizens, where is the HRC? We dare say the resources and energy placed by the HRC at the remarks we made at the June 16 rally, which clearly we re not intended to incite hatred and violence demonstrate how those given the responsibility to lead this institution have become out of touch with the needs and aspirations of our people. They demand a society where the values of equality enshrined in the constitution are a reality and their rights are protected against those who continue to show contempt for such values.
Perhaps it is time we paid attention to the calibre of the leadership to important organs of state charged with upholding and advancing the values of our constitution. Hard questions must be asked about whether they truly understand the magnitude of the obligations they carry and the urgency to advance the creation of a non-racist, non sexist society where all its citizens are truly equal before the law. There can be no doubt about the value these institutions add to the creation of a nation-state that is truly responsive to the ideals embodied in our constitution. Those that are given the responsibility to lead these institutions must be patriots who clearly understand these imperatives and are not driven by partisan political agendas.
This sentiment extends to all important public institutions which includes the SABC. The executive management of the SABC has clearly failed our youth not only through their despicable conduct, but also their failure to ensure that programming is responsive to the aspirations of our youth. The conduct of the SABC in the build-up to Polokwane where it allowed itself to be used in partisan political battles remains very fresh in our minds. The fiasco currently playing itself out resulting in the suspension of both the Group CEO and the Group Executive for News and Current Affairs is a natural consequence of the meddling in politics when it should have been focusing on its mandate as a public broadcaster. Both the executive management team and the Board of the SABC have failed the nation and are not deserving of our sympathy.
Similarly, the past week represented a trying moment for the people of Zimbabwe. What was meant to be a Presidential run-off election deteriorated into a joke of the worst order. The conditions on the ground in Zimbabwe were never conducive to a free and fair election, and the credibility of this election is seriously wanting. To recognise its outcome would be betrayal of not only of our own values, but also of the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.
The moment has come for all of us to spring into action and salvage what is left of what used to be a great democracy, a patriotic frontline state that played a key role in the struggle against apartheid. The meltdown resulting from the political and economic implosion of Zimbabwe is impacting negatively on our socio-economic and socio-political life and is fast becoming an albatross on the neck of South Africa's economy. Indeed, ZANU-PF has lost its moral campus and has eschewed its value system as a liberation movement that delivered liberation to the people of Zimbabwe from colonial rule.
It is not our place to assume the role of armchair critics and holy cows, yet we must decry the subversion of the rule of law and tyranny disguised as a genuine struggle against re-colonisation of Zimbabwe. The outcome of the so-called Presidential run-off election must be set aside and both ZANU-PF and MDC, alongside organs of civil society must find each other in order to find a lasting solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic challenges. We are truly disappointed that ZANU-PF has failed to seize the moment and exercise its moral authority and prevail on its government to do the right thing. The people of Zimbabwe deserve better than the raw deal that is being presented to them as a fait accompli.
The cul-de-sac Zimbabwe has reached in its political life means the time has come for a fresh start under the guidance and leadership of a unity government whose mandate must be to rebuild Zimbabwe's political and economic institutions and place Zimbabwe back on a developmental path that seeks to empower all her peoples. We are under no illusion that the land redistribution programme must remain at the centre of such political and economic rehabilitation. This is a fundamental principle which we do not expect the people of Zimbabwe to compromise on, but the approach must be one that builds, rather than divide the nation. Britain must be held accountable for the Lancaster House agreement and must never be allowed to scheme its way out of the commitments they made at Lancaster House.
Indeed, alongside the challenges confronting the peoples of Zimbabwe, Congress has applied itself to a variety of challenges on the international front. We remain committed to the liberation of the Palestinian people from their subjugation at the hands of Israel. It is time that the creation of the State of Palestine, peacefully co-existing alongside Israel becomes a reality. The world must bring its influence to bear to bring an end to the Israel tyranny and persecution of the people of Palestine. We must heighten our solidarity campaigns with the peoples of Swaziland, Western Sahara, Cuba and Burma. The lifting of diplomatic sanctions by the EU against Cuba is a welcome development. Much more still needs to be done to make this a meaningful gesture.
The scourge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to be a source of major concern. Congress re-affirmed its previous resolutions to this effect and further made a commitment to ensure that young people are at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS. We firmly support the government's approach in the fight against this pandemic and commit ourselves to the ABC approach as an underlying message in all our engagements with young people, which advocates abstinence, faithfulness and condom use.
Congress applied itself on the implementation of the 2004 Congress resolution calling for the merger of Umsobomvu Youth Fund, the National Youth Commission and all Provincial Youth Commissions. Indeed, much work has been done in this regard and the ANC's 52nd National Conference in Polokwane resolved that the implementation of the Integrated Youth Development Strategy on which the creation of the envisaged National Youth Development Agency, which will emerge out of the merger of Umsobomvu and the Youth Commissions, must see the light of the day by the end of this year. It must never elude us that this remains an ANCYL political agenda and our role remains central in its realisation. Congress resolution that the incoming NEC must establish a task team to exercise political oversight on the implementation of this important Polokwane resolution will be implemented with the urgency it deserves. It is important to highlight that our decision to change our approach to youth dev elopment is not an acknowledgement of failure on the part of the Youth Commissions and Umsobomvu Youth Fund, but rather an acknowledgement of the shortcomings in the youth development model we have adopted post-1994. Through the benefit of hindsight and experience, we have been able to finetune that model and realise that the mainstreaming of youth development is the key.
An integral of integrating young people into the economic mainstream is ensuring that decent jobs are available for young people. The intensification of our Jobs For Youth Campaign will place emphasis on this aspect of economic participation. Young people cannot be spectators or hired hand in the country's economic development, but rather full participants and decision makers. Interventions through initiatives such as ASGISA must place youth development and empowerment at the centre of their agendas in order to make a meaningful impact.
The 2010 FIFA World CupTM which is coming to our shores in 2010 must make a meaningful contribution to the development of our youth, not only through volunteer programmes, but also economic opportunities and legacy projects. The World Cup must also be used as an opportunity to build a sporting nation capable and able to produce world class football players. We call upon host cities, provinces and key departments of state involved with the World Cup to take youth empowerment seriously.
We leave Congress with a firm mandate to end our association with Lembede Investment Holdings, which has been our fundraising vehicle for many years. We are a political organisation and our direct participation in economic activity is bound to raise conflict of interest issues. The incoming NEC will investigate alternative ways to raise funds, while we continue to pay our undivided attention to our mandate of championing youth development at a political front.
Questions relating to the realisation of free and compulsory education remain central to the ANC Youth League. Building on important resolutions of Polokwane, Congress has applied itself on this matter and has made far reaching resolutions which will guide the NEC in its engagements with various stakeholders.
The mandate given to us by this Congress require of us to roll up our sleeves and get down to work and ensure that each of its resolutions is implemented diligently. Youth mobilisation and political education will remain at the centre of our work to ensure that we build a youth league cadre that is truly responsive to our national developmental agenda. The need to establish a political and research institute for the ANC Youth League has never been greater, and the incoming NEC will have to apply itself diligently on the matter.
We are truly humbled by the confidence in us demonstrated by the delegates at Congress and the membership of the ANC Youth League at large on whose mandate these delegates were acting. We are under no illusion about the magnitude of the task at hand and the expectations we have to live up to. As we take the baton, we commit ourselves to preserving the legacy of great leaders before us and building the ANC Youth League into an effective political preparatory school for the ANC and a political home for South Africa's youth. Much work has been done by those before us and we will build on their successes and learn from their shortcomings. A profound word of appreciation to the outgone NEC whose commitment to the founding ideals of the ANC Youth League laid down solid foundations for us to craft our own path. A particular word of appreciation goes to an outstanding cadre, a true revolutionary and a leader who taught us all what it means to lead from the front. Throughout the history of the ANC Youth League, he is the only other comrade to have ascended from Secretary-General to its President alongside Nelson Mandela. Comrade Fikile Mbalula truly personified the timeless slogan of the Youth League, "impatient for change" and led under trying circumstances. Your wise words of counsel to us when we bid you farewell will serve as a beacon to guide us in our work. On that occasion you said, "Preserve this legacy, persevere in the face of the daunting challenges. Great leaders emerge out of trying circumstances. You will be baptised by fire like those who came before you, but you must never sacrifice the cohesion and unity of our revolutionary movement, the ANC." We salute you comrade Mbaks, your leadership skills you demonstrated during your tenure will come handy in your new role as head of Organisation Building in the ANC.
In closing, this Congress takes place against the backdrop of the 90th birthday of one of the greatest icons of our movement Tata Nelson Mandela. I believe I speak for all the delegates gathered here when I say Madiba remains the embodiment of the values of the ANC and a symbol of our resilience as a people. We are grateful that he remains in our midst as a wise elder of our movement, an Isithwalandwe-Seaparankoe who became the face and symbol of our liberation struggle. Long live Madiba, Long live!!
Vladimir Lenin once said, "The old will not die and vanish without a push and the new will not be born and rise without a struggle." This Congress not only marks the end of an era for the first leadership generation post apartheid, but also the emergence of a new generation poised to craft its own path and make its own footprints on the sands of time. This is a generation that will set its own agenda and take the ANC Youth League to new heights so that generations to come may count us among the great revolutionaries of our youth movement , alongside Anton Lembede, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Peter Mokaba and Fikile Mbalula who made an indelible mark on the advancement of youth struggles in our beautiful land.