African National Congress stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has become the first ANC national executive committee member to endorse the ANC youth league’s call for radical policy changes, particularly on land reform.
On Sunday, the league adopted resolutions on economic transformation, which included land expropriation without compensation and the nationalisation of mines. The party has always taken a lukewarm approach on calls for economic policy changes.
Addressing delegates at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Gauteng, on Sunday, Madikizela-Mandela — seen as a mother figure to youth league president Julius Malema — said it was important for the party to review land redistribution policy, as it was increasingly clear that the willing-buyer, willing-seller approach had failed.
“It is true that South Africa is faced with huge challenges relating to youth unemployment. We need to review the land redistribution policy. After all, the strike has always been about land. The ANC is called upon to review the land policy. NDR [national democratic revolution] is a reality,” said Madikizela-Mandela, adding that ANC leaders needed to work hard to unite the alliance.
“Alliances are a reality. We need to find an opportunity to work together. You can only change the Constitution if you work together,” said Madikizela-Mandela, referring to the strained relationship that has emerged between the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party.
‘The ANC is on trial’
Madikizela-Mandala praised Malema for his fearless approach in calling for radical policy changes in the ANC and the government.
“One of the good attributes of leadership is to take unpopular decisions. We dare not go the route of Polokwane [the ANC conference in 2007] again. The ANC is on trial,” she said.
Madikizela-Mandela challenged the young lions to step up their campaign in fighting for economic freedom in the same manner that the 1976 generation challenged apartheid.
“History will judge you as the custodians of our future,” said Madikizela-Mandela.
Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe acknowledged earlier that a debate on the issue of land was needed.
“As we approach [the ANC] centenary, we need to accelerate our debate on land. South Africa must reverse inequality, offer employment and grow the economy,” said Motlanthe, adding that the youth league needed to work together with its mother body to implement the new growth path.
He said he was aware that some of the youth league’s resolutions were likely to put it on a collision course with the ruling party.
“This should not draw a wedge [between us], but strengthen the debate.”
He said the new youth league executives should have regular meetings with the ANC to discuss policies and other related issues.
“I think that it is unfair that we come together only when there are issues. We should meet regularly even when there are not issues.”
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