“BUILDING A MODERN STUDENT MOVEMENT TO DEEPEN THE NDR FOR ATTAINMENT OF WORKING-CLASS POWER”
Receive our revolutionary greetings on behalf of the 5th Congress National Committee and rank and file of the Young Communist League of South Africa.
We are highly privileged to be your guests this afternoon and to be allowed to wish you a happy 29th anniversary and commemoration of 96 years in championing students’ interests. We stand tall today because of this gallant school of thought that has sharpened our ideological orientation for years.
Whilst we celebrate this milestone, there are reflections that must be done. Is the student populace still seeing this gallant student movement as a relevant vehicle to advance their interests? And whether yes or no, one fundamental question that we have to engage is why we have situations where students would choose other organizations over this giant student movement? This discussion should be initiated to ensure that we position the student as the only organ with the capacity to advance the objectives of our National Democratic Revolution while simultaneously being driven by the art to champion student interests.
AN ORGANIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SASCO AND YCLSA
There is a symbiotic relationship between SASCO and the YCLSA. For more than a decade, after the unbanning, the SACP relied – almost exclusively on SASCO as its recruitment ground for young communists, to the point that when YCLSA was to be re-launched, the vanguard Party looked to former and current leaders of SASCO to take forward the process towards the re-launch of YCLSA. Since then, the student movement has continued to produce leaders for the YCLSA, both provincially and nationally. Many student movement activists find the YCLSA as their reliable home.
15 years ago, we crafted a paper titled “Moving the Trenches – Defying the Odds! Forward to Free Education System!” and this was in line with SASCO’s SPOT document which clearly outlines its approach in transforming the education system. This was yet another affirmation of the shared history and ideological orientation of the two formations.
Education is arguably the most important investment to make our country successful if we are serious about job creation, skills development and sustainable development. However, institutions of learning remain a site of struggle and education remains contested ideological terrain, thus it cannot be treated as a neutral phenomenon especially in a capitalist state. We need to work together for the implementation of free, quality and compulsory education for the poor. We have to break the stubborn two-tier education system that has continued to widen the gap of inequality between the historically disadvantaged institutions and the historically advantaged.
The struggle for free education should not only be about breaking the financial barriers but a radical transformation of the curriculum content that will respond to the needs of our society and confronting the two elephants in the house, being institutional autonomy and academic freedom. Liberals, especially those from previously advantaged institutions argue that the introduction of free education will affect the quality of education.
We have to respond to this. Our response is simple, capitalism has finished the quality of our education system from serving a public good to being a mere commodity.
SASCO has been a reliable ally and has led the Progressive Youth Alliance very well in this terrain. We wish this gallant student movement well towards the SRC elections. We have no doubt that this organisation remains a beacon of hope to the majority of the students from a working-class background.
It is important to continue leading the student populace amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Expose the inequalities that still exist in the education system.
Strengthen the unity of PYA
The character, content and direction of the NDR are of fundamental importance to our alliance since the deepening and consolidation of the NDR glued us together. The NDR seeks to resolve three fundamental elements being Class, Race and Gender. The NDR if not deterred, will directly take us to socialism.
The unity of the left-axis is crucial at this point in time to revive the PYA. Working together we can deepen, defend and advance the National Democratic Revolution. In defense of the NDR, we must fight against corruption and call for action against all corrupt elements. We equally need you in the fight against the re-emergence of a neo-liberal agenda within the state and obviously unashamedly advanced by the ministry of finance.
We are calling upon the Finance Ministry, that if indeed they have scored a good deal between themselves and the International Monetary Fund as they claim, they should publicize that deal since well it is in the best interest of the people of our country.
Moreover, the YCLSA is angered by the fact that the super-ministry went against the resolutions of the alliance political council which is supposed to be the centre in driving the transformation agenda. The latter convinces us that the movement is faced with yet another tendency which is aimed at suppressing the objectives of our National Democratic Revolutionary agenda which we ultimately fought towards the Polokwane conference of the ANC – the tendency of having super factional machinery emanating from our movement in the state to consolidate the neoliberal agenda and suppress the movement.
Amilcar Cabral asserts that “revolutionary practice is the only true expression of revolutionary ideology. To work tireless and fight uncompromisingly for the unity of the progressive forces is revolutionary”. At this extraordinary epoch when unity amongst progressive working-class youth formations is needed, we must be obsessed, possessed and surrender ourselves to the revolution through both our conduct and articulation and nothing against it.
The unity of the Progressive Youth Alliance is very relevant at the current epoch; however, unity is just a slogan without revolutionary actions. There are those who will never understand the need for a radical, united and coherent Progressive Youth Alliance that must reclaim its ground as a beacon of hope for the youth of this country. We need to, at all times, identify such elements within our ranks and isolate them.
These youth organisations have always sought to propel the liberation movement and society forward and often in difficult phases of the revolution. Therefore, the relevance of the progressive youth alliance and youth politics must always be assessed against time and space, in other words, against phases and reality on the ground.
The PYA relations are not at the level we can all celebrate due to many political factors; the absence of the ANCYL has left a vacuum and the deliberate weakening of COSAS has affected all components. The revival of the ANCYL can no longer be overemphasised. We hope moving forward, we will be unified by common programmes and campaigns than personal relations. The youth need coherent and decisive leadership.
We can achieve all these if we invest in political education and ideological work. The weakness of any component reflects all of us. We cannot celebrate the current state of the PYA. Without proper ideological and political training, we run the risk where we will assume that common sense is the highest rational thinking. And this is dangerous because – in the absence of rational thinking common sense prevails to organise the mind! SASCO cannot afford to have such leaders, while it is used Marxism-Leninism as a tool of analysis.
Our relations with SASCO, and our relations in the PYA, are guided by principles, historic action and a shared bond in the struggle.
The YCLSA believes in and respects the independence of SASCO, and we would like to believe that we share the same spirit with the current leadership in the giant student movement and to all other PYA components.
Let’s together build fighting soldiers for Socialism:
The left-leaning student organisation should remain relevant to its historical role of being a political feeder for the YCLSA. The SPOT document is very clear in outlining the key pillars that guide the student movement. Amongst other pillars, you believe in working-class leadership, international work and community work; this is a clear indication of the role SASCO has in building a strong YCL and the vanguard Party.
Mao identified youth as people with vigour and vitality, a bloom of life, like a sun at eight or nine in the morning. The hope of a better future is placed in them. It must be all of us united to fight against corruption, politics of patronage, palace politics, and de-politicisation of membership in the movement.
Comrade President, we like to thank this opportunity that we were given to be part of celebrating and reflecting on the student struggles advanced by the gallant student movement over the years. We wish you a successful 29th anniversary. We thank you!!!