Anton Lembede – Founding President of the ANC Youth League
The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) extends revolutionary congratulations to the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) on the event of celebrating the 73rd Anniversary of the formation of the ANCYL on the 10th of September 1944.
The ANCYL was founded by outstanding young comrades such as comrade Anton Lembede, who was its first President, together with comrades Nelson Mandela, Ashley Peter Mda, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo among others. Together they marked the rise of a new generation of young leaders, who were committed to radical revolutionary transformation of the ANC.
MKMVA commends the ANCYL for celebrating this year’s anniversary by specifically remembering the exemplary commitment and revolutionary spirit of comrade Anton Lembede. Former president Nelson Mandela wrote that Lembede had a “magnetic personality who thought in original and often startling ways”. He stated that, “like Lembede I came to see the antidote as militant African nationalism”. Comrade Lembede died in 1947, but the example of his dedicated revolutionary life continues to guide the ANCYL up to this very day.
As MKMVA we acknowledge that the ANCYL was at the forefront of the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), and that many young people made a huge contribution to the liberation struggle when they joined MK as liberation soldiers. We remember the many young members of the ANCYL, who as liberation fighters in MK, made the ultimate sacrifice by having laid down their lives in the armed struggle for our liberation.
The ANCYL continues to be the revolutionary vanguard of the South African youth. The youth in South Africa are faced with many challenges. These challenges include an economy that continues to fail to grow fast enough and to create adequate jobs. The double challenges of unemployment and poverty weighs heavily on the collective shoulders of the black (especially African) youth. MKMVA is very aware that this burden has its roots in the history of apartheid underdevelopment and exploitation that continues to cast a long shadow over our society. This is evident in the continued control and exploitation by White Monopoly Capital (WMC) of our communities, which continues to care more about the optimisation of white profits rather than the education and empowerment of the majority of black youth.
Together with the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL), MKMVA shares a joint commitment with the ANCYL for the advancement of a programme of Radical Socio-economic Transformation (RET) that must fundamentally change the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female.
As was the situation right from the very formation of the ANCYL, the youth still has a critical revolutionary role to keep on challenging the ANC mother body, and all our Leagues and Associations, about the need for radical socio-economic transformation in order to address the
needs of all South Africans, the youth in particular. These include free and quality education, decent and free health care, a caring and inclusive growing economy that empowers black South Africans and create adequate and sustainable jobs for black (especially African) youth.
Similarly we share in the ANCYL’s commitment for a society that is fundamentally opposed to any form of gender based discrimination and violence. The scourge of alcohol and drug abuse in our society in general, and among our youth in particular, also needs to be addressed as a matter of the utmost urgency, and here too MKMVA fully shares in the commitment of the ANCYL to do so.
In order to address these urgent needs of our time MKMVA joined the ANCWL and the ANCYL in backing progressive RET policy proposals at the National Policy Conference of the ANC. It is our joint understanding that the critical foundation for addressing these issues is the economic empowerment of all South Africans through the introduction of the Second Phase of our National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
As was the case in 1944 the African National Congress today finds itself at a watershed moment in our history, with a need for urgent and radical renewal. MKMVA takes hands with the ANCYL and the ANCWL, and all other progressive forces in the ANC, to ensure that the upcoming National Elective Conference of the ANC will deliver Radical Socio-economic Transformation resolutions that will fundamentally change the economic power dynamics in favour of a broad based majority of black (especially African) South Africans. In this regard we are fully engaged to promote land restitution without compensation, the transformation of all major banks and financial institutions to serve the black majority (especially back youth) to make affordable capital available for black entrepreneurship and job creation, that the SA Reserve Bank must stop being independent, must implement the ANC government’s developmental policies and bring an end to any independent share-holding whatsoever in the Reserve Bank.
Therefore with this commitment to effect fundamental radical economic renewal MKMVA, jointly with the ANCWL and the ANCYL, supports the candidature of comrade Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for the presidency of the ANC. Comrade Dlamini Zuma is the only candidate who has unequivocally committed herself to Radical Economic Transformation, as her campaign slogan ”Radical Economic Transformation Now or Never”, reflects.
We believe that in this manner we serve the commitment for full liberation (also economic liberation), that underpinned the formation of both the ANCYL and MKMVA.
In celebrating the radical origins and objectives of the ANC Youth League, MKMVA also firmly holds onto our own radical roots. We re-commit ourselves to the salient undertaking of the Freedom Charter that the People shall Govern, and that all the People shall Share in the Wealth of our Country.
*Issued by the President of MKMVA, Comrade Kebby Maphatsoe