/ 1 July 2023

ANCYL leader cautions ANC about confusing Russia with USSR

ANCYL national youth task team deputy convenor, Fasiha Hassan. Photo: Twitter

As South Africa prepares to host the Brics summit in August, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) is hoping to agitate for a Brics youth secretariat. 

Delivering the political overview at the long awaited ANCYL conference on Saturday, the league’s national youth task team deputy convenor, Fasiha Hassan, said young people must future-proof the industries and economies that they were likely to inherit, by agitating for a more significant role in the Brics bloc.  

“This ANCYL must be vocal about the establishment of a Brics youth secretariat that will have more sway in conversations around the substantive issues affecting our trading bloc. Issues such as technology, energy, education, conflict and healthcare must be dealt with by young people, and our ideas and proposals must be formalised in the Brics bloc,” she said.

Hassan said that the youth league needs to play a leading role in uniting progressive youth formations across the African continent. 

She said that the state of disorganisation among young people in Africa has reached crisis levels. 

“Our problems as young people will only continue to grow if we continue to maintain the patronage-based, regressive politics of the current generation of African leaders. The headquarters of the Pan-African Youth Union must be moved from Morocco until such time that they end the colonial occupation of Western Sahara. Only then can it be safe from colonial and imperial forces.” 

Addressing the upcoming Zimbabwe elections, Hassan said that this was an important moment in the SADC region and South Africa must play a more active role in deepening and strengthening democracy in neighbouring countries. 

“We call on the government of Zimbabwe to commit to conducting a free and fair election that will be undisputed in its outcome and that will reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.” 

Hassan also lauded South Africa for its non-aligned stance in the Russia-Ukraine war. While reflecting on the ANC’s history with the Soviet Union, she however cautioned that ANC members should not romanticise an order that no longer exists. 

“Today’s Russian federation is not the USSR of old. Having said that, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s expansion eastwards must be treated with the contempt it deserves.” 

South Africa has been caught in the firing line between Russia and the west. Its non aligned stance has caused the United States to rethink its trade relations with the Cyril Ramaphosa-led government. 

Tackling the situation at home, Hassan said that a “bomb was going to explode” as South Africa was facing high levels of youth unemployment. 

While she acknowledged that the country’s economic downturn was also due to global political and economic conditions, she said this could not be used as a cop out to absolve leadership from taking responsibility for opening the economy for young people. 

“We must be more aggressive in utilising our political power to create reforms that will supply jobs and opportunities for young people. We need to address corruption in the State and the private sector that robs us as young people of these opportunities. 

“We must continue to hold those who steal from us accountable. The era of digitisation is upon us, and the opportunity for young South Africans to be active participants in a growing digitised economy must not be missed. The skills gap that exists must be addressed urgently so that we are able to take full benefit from this,” she said.  

The ANCYL is fighting to regain autonomy from its mother body. Several ANC leaders including party secretary general Fikile Mbalula have been accused of interfering in the structure’s conference.  

“If the ANCYL is to survive the next phase of its existence, it must assert its autonomy. While we exist within the framework of the ANC and broader mass democratic movement,  our standing as an organisation has been compromised by leaders who are attached at the hip to elders. We must break from this habit and determine our own path as young people,” she said.