This year’s statement, ahead of the party’s 109th birthday celebrations, is said to tackle the virus, the much-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine, gender-based violence (GBV), and government’s economic recovery plans, ANC head of organising Nomvula Mokonyane said on Wednesday.
But the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) crisis committee remains sceptical, issuing a statement on Thursday calling for Ramaphosa to face what they deem South Africa’s biggest challenge – youth unemployment.
“The year 2020 was clouded with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had an even more dire impact on South Africans in general, and young people in particular.”
The party said if the ANC was to “honestly reflect” on its 109 years of existence, it would find that it had “dishonoured its own legacy in its failure to currently appreciate the important role of legitimate youth in the future of the organisation and society at large”.
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The ANCYL crisis committee has been fighting to have the youth lead the league again, after it was disbanded in 2019.
A task team was then appointed to help reestablish the league, but according to crisis committee convenor Katlego Mamabolo, the task team only hindered the league’s ability to become functional again.
He has viewed the ensuing conferences and delays as being purely “for particular leadership outcomes” and “to fight internal factional battles within the ANC”.
Mamabolo said during a march to Luthuli House House last year that older members of the ANC were overstaying their tenure at the youth league, as the permitted ages to be part of the ANCYL is between 14 and 35.
In their latest statement, the crisis committee has dubbed older members’ refusal to leave the ANCYL as “Peter Pan syndrome”, where issues concerning the youth are not addressed.
“Instead of resolving youth challenges, we have witnessed the ‘eldership’ using the [African National] Congress Youth League as a pocket knife for their factional pursuits.”
Include the youth
The crisis committee has urged Ramaphosa to “intensify efforts for the inclusion of youth in leadership and governance structures, where a review of the 20% youth representation will be made”.
According to the committee, there is “no logic” to the current 20% youth representation quota “in a country where over 60% of its population is below the age of 35″.
This goes for women and disabled people as well, they added.
“We continue to see youth under-development under the changing conditions of technological and scientific innovations, which sees the African child lagging behind on these global advancements.”
The committee has demanded the prioritisation of youth and women-owned enterprises, and for them to receive state funding in order to be competitive.
They said Covid-19 exposed many existing flaws in South African society, exacerbated by high population density in city areas. “All the more reason an urgent investment has to be made in the rural economy,” they said.
The committee feels that government has also not invited enough in sports, arts and culture, which they said “undermine[d] youth passion”, and affected income generation for young people.
The twin pandemic: gender-based violence
Although Ramaphosa has addressed the issue of GBV on many occasions, and throughout the pandemic, the committee has emphasised that these efforts needed to be intensified, to tackle “what has been coined as the twin pandemic: gender-based violence and Covid-19″.
In addition to calling for more investment in businesses run by women, and increased representation in government, the crisis committee said social issues such as GBV, femicide, racism, sexism, drug abuse and homelessness “affect the youth the most”.
As such, they are calling on the youth to “be at the centre of reviving community policing” and other safety interventions to root out crime.
Health system woes
In this sense, the crisis committee is calling on Ramaphosa to prioritise young people when appointing community health workers and nurses, and that qualified young doctors be deployed to the public health sector.
The committee has also called for the Mandela-Castro Medical Collaboration Programme to be ramped up, for youth from “all corners of the country” to be able to access the benefits of the programme.
Party members with “the inability to resist the urge of stealing from the poor”, as well as leaders currently in legal battles, must step down, the committee urged, as per the 54th national conference of the ruling party.
The conference resolved that any leaders confronted with serious criminal charges should resign or step aside.
Corruption was especially rife during the initial surge in Covid-19 cases, involving bogus personal protective equipment tenders, and costing the country billions in precious funding needed to bolster efforts to curb the virus.
This as the ruling party embarks on a “moral regeneration”, Mamabolo told The Citizen.
“We’ve got to a point where we must preserve the party’s moral integrity within society. Older people must give the youth political expression, and allow them to have a place in society.”
The committee has also called on the release of urban land suitable for settlements, in order to allow people to build their own homes.
“Municipalities must invest in building new settlements,” they said.
“As we are currently faced with the threat of a complete collapse of the ANCYL at the helm of the eldership, we call on all young people to unite and put an end to an era of unconstitutionality and illegitimacy.
“Young people must reject all efforts that undermine our capacity to lead and contribute towards a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous South Africa.”