The ANC says it will be young South Africans who will lead the country into a more just and thriving era, post Covid-19.
The governing party’s treasurer-general, Paul Mashatile, held an online lecture on Tuesday, via the ANC’s Facebook page, to celebrate 26 years of South Africa’s freedom.
The country’s first democratic elections took place on 27 April in 1994.
“Let no one deceive us, we are justified to celebrate our freedom and the fruits of our liberation,” said Mashatile.
While Mashatile listed the areas where his party had made progress since coming into power, including housing, access to water and sanitation, among many others, he said more needed to be done.
He said large groups of young people felt “eluded” by the benefits of a democratic South Africa due to a lack of employment, access to education, skills and training, the scourge of drug abuse and, in the case of many women and children, gender-based violence.
He also noted the country marked the anniversary this year, under “difficult conditions”, due to the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
It has infected more than three million people worldwide, with South Africa’s confirmed cases at 4,793, of which 90 have died.
He said the current crop of young leaders had the duty to build a new economy and society, which would benefit everyone in the country and change ownership patterns, so it is more biased towards the poor.
“Young people must direct our programme of land reform; this is at the heart of addressing what President Cyril Ramaphosa refers to as the original sin,” said Mashatile.
He also said that, when structural reforms were being considered, young South Africans had to ensure they were at the “epicentre”, steering how it was developed.
Narrowing his focus to young people in the ANC, Mashatile called for a strong ANC Youth League (ANCYL).
The structure has been a shadow of its former self, ever since it was disbanded after the expulsion of then-president Julius Malema in 2012.
Attempts to rebuild the youth organisation have hit numerous snags, with the leadership elected in 2015 also dissolved, and plans to hold its 26th conference and elect a new executive not materialising.
The ANC has since established a national ANCYL Task Team, made up of former leaders, to help bring it back to life.
South Africa’s economy has been hard hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, which further sunk an already struggling economy.
The ANC treasurer said the task facing South Africa needed a strong ANC and ANCYL.
He added that the party’s youth needed to be “unrelenting” in restoring the former liberation movement’s core values, which included hard work, unity, selflessness and robust debates.
“Young people have to lay the basis for a strong movement,” said Mashatile.
He called for “iron discipline” in the journey towards building an ethical ANC.