We are fortunate that we have lived at a time and seen with our very own eyes how the politics of slates continues to sideline each against the other. We know how politics of slates once they reach their epoch, slate products turn against each other and in the process the organisation suffers.
The mother-body (ANC) Mangaung 2012 conference resolution was explicit and said the following:
“Conference instructs the incoming National Executive Committee (NEC) to urgently intervene to address the situation of the ANC Youth League. The incoming NEC must, amongst other things, engage with the leadership of the League at all levels in order to:
– Assess the state of organisation of the League and its role and activities, and work consistently with the League to strengthen it organisationally and politically;
– Engage the League on its relationship with the ANC;
– Take all necessary measures to ensure that the League plays its proper role and acts within the policy and Constitution of the ANC”.
What has happened since then?
We had the National Task Team (NTT) led by Comrade Mzwandile Masina and to be frank, this NTT did not address issues as instructed by the Mangaung conference hence they were disbanded.
In came another NTT with the hope that the instruction by the Mangaung conference shall be followed and it’s objectives achieved. We have a youth league conference taking place as commanded and the NTT having achieved what they had set themselves as a priority with vigour and high discipline.
Can we say today that the mission of the second NTT was achieved as instructed by the Mangaung conference? We can say an emphatic NO.
We had a leadership collective of the ANCYL who confessed to misdeeds about some actions of it’s members including it’s president. The term of the current executive of the ANCYL produced nothing for the ANCYL except to elevate the profiles of it’s individual leaders amongst the rank and file to be able to be elected to higher structures in the mother body. The ANCYL executive for the period it has been elected since 2015 never led any successful programme it can claim to be it’s own. The current executive was a staff rider that latched on any issue that was already being led by other components of youth formations. A case in point is the #FeesMustfallMovement, #FreeFMFActivists. At worst it failed to own it’s programme for economic freedom in our life.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
– How do we say that the renewal and re-organising of the youth league has been achieved when we live with slate politics?
– How do we aim to inspire confidence to the youth of South Africa when products of slate politics want to talk principle and organisational discipline?
– How do we consciously turn a blind eye when an obvious illegitimate process of choosing fearless, unsponsored, intellectuals, is being sacrificed for the League of “yes woman and yes man” slate products?
– What has happened to the soul of reputable men and women who are elected based on slate politics and they agree to serve?
What is absolutely clear is that comrades fear each other intellectually and otherwise and we can safely deduce that slate products have nothing to offer intellectually except the fight to defend their list at all costs.
In his address The Weapon of Theory delivered to the first Tricontinental Conference of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America held in Havana in January 1966, Amilcar Cabral said the following https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/cabral/1966/weapon-theory.htm which is relevant to the conference of the ANCYL:
“Our agenda includes subjects whose meaning and importance are beyond question and which show a fundamental preoccupation with struggle. We note, however, that one form of struggle which we consider to be fundamental has not been explicitly mentioned in this programme, although we are certain that it was present in the minds of those who drew up the programme. We refer here to the struggle against our own weaknesses. Obviously, other cases differ from that of Guinea; but our experience has shown us that in the general framework of daily struggle this battle against ourselves — no matter what difficulties the enemy may create — is the most difficult of all, whether for the present or the future of our peoples. This battle is the expression of the internal contradictions in the economic, social, cultural (and therefore historical) reality of each of our countries. We are convinced that any national or social revolution which is not based on knowledge of this fundamental reality runs grave risk of being condemned to failure.
“When the African peoples say in their simple language that “no matter how hot the water from your well, it will not cook your rice,” they express with singular simplicity a fundamental principle, not only of physics, but also of political science. We know that the development of a phenomenon in movement, whatever its external appearance, depends mainly on its internal characteristics. We also know that on the political level our own reality — however fine and attractive the reality of others may be — can only be transformed by detailed knowledge of it, by our own efforts, by our own sacrifices. It is useful to recall in this Tricontinental gathering, so rich in experience and example, that however great the similarity between our various cases and however identical our enemies, national liberation and social revolution are not exportable commodities; they are, and increasingly so every day, the outcome of local and national elaboration, more or less influenced by external factors (be they favorable or unfavorable) but essentially determined and formed by the historical reality of each people, and carried to success by the overcoming or correct solution of the internal contradictions between the various categories characterising this reality. The success of the Cuban revolution, taking place only 90 miles from the greatest imperialist and anti-socialist power of all time, seems to us, in its content and its way of evolution, to be a practical and conclusive illustration of the validity of this principle.
However we must recognize that we ourselves and the other liberation movements in general (referring here above all to the African experience) have not managed to pay sufficient attention to this important problem of our common struggle.
The ideological deficiency, not to say the total lack of ideology, within the national liberation movements — which is basically due to ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform — constitutes one of the greatest weaknesses of our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all. We believe, however, that a sufficient number of different experiences has already been accumulated to enable us to define a general line of thought and action with the aim of eliminating this deficiency. A full discussion of this subject could be useful, and would enable this conference to make a valuable contribution towards strengthening the present and future actions of the national liberation movements. This would be a concrete way of helping these movements, and in our opinion no less important than political support or financial assistance for arms and suchlike.
It is with the intention of making a contribution, however modest, to this debate that we present here our opinion of the foundations and objectives of national liberation in relation to the social structure. This opinion is the result of our own experiences of the struggle and of a critical appreciation of the experiences of others. To those who see in it a theoretical character, we would recall that every practice produces a theory, and that if it is true that a revolution can fail even though it be based on perfectly conceived theories, nobody has yet made a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory.”
Slate politics serves the enemies and counter-revolutionaries, it serves those who seek to see the congress movement dying. We have a duty as disciplined members of the organisation to fight, agitate and protect the ANC. Not in our names shall we let the ANC die because the ANCYL was used as the lethal injection for the demise of our organisation. ANC leads, ANC lives.
Themba Vryman is an ANC member from Free State in good standing and writes in his personal capacity.