Youth claim vanguard role

The ANC Youth League claims that its policy proposals formed the basis for much of the content discussed by the mother body this week. (Madelene Cronjé, MG)

The ANC Youth League claims that its policy proposals formed the basis for much of the content discussed by the mother body this week. (Madelene Cronjé, MG)

The ANC Youth League has claimed victory for initiating certain radical policy positions its mother body discussed at its policy conference in Midrand this week. The league has been neutralised since the expulsion of its leader, Julius Malema, but it believes its policy proposals dominated the agenda at the conference.

In his keynote address, President Jacob Zuma called for radical policy changes, despite his earlier assurances that there was no need to change current economic policies.

Youth league deputy president Ronald Lamola told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday that Zuma’s “shift” was a vindication of the league and its leaders, who had been targeted and disciplined for adopting radical policy positions.

While Zuma did not specify what kind of radical changes were needed, the youth league has been lobbying the ANC-led alliance to consider nationalisation of mines and other key sectors of the economy as policy. It also called for the expropriation of land without compensation.

“It is the nature of the youth league to influence the ANC and you can see that all the issues we have raised were on the agenda of the policy conference,” said Lamola.
“What we will continue to do is to defend what the youth league is trying to achieve and future generations will continue to push for nationalisation and land expropriation without compensation if it’s not achievable now.”

Youth league supporters pointed out the similarities between their positions and Zuma’s on key issues:

On the compromises made by the ANC during the Codesa negotiations, the youth league said: “There must be a point where the sun rises and maybe we have now reached that point … where we must agree those sunset clauses belong to [...] history.”

Zuma said: “There were sunset clauses but no sunrise clauses (in the Constitution).”

On the economy, the league said: “We need to break the apartheid economy we received in 1994. White people are still living a Hollywood lifestyle ... while the majority are still living a third-world lifestyle.”

Zuma said: “The structure of the apartheid-era economy has remained largely intact … The ownership of the economy is still primarily in the hands of white males ...”

Earlier this week, the majority of the 11 commissions on the ANC’s strategy and tactics policy discussion document rejected the second transition document, which has been championed by Zuma.

The second transition dominated debate during the first two days of the conference, with Zuma telling delegates that the country had completed the first transition – which was mainly about political freedom – and now needed to shift into the second transition, which focuses on economic and social transformation.

Compromise language calling for a “second phase of the transition” was adopted as the M&G went to press.

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004.
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