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Red Alert: Capitalism has failed the youth, socialism in our lifetime!

Guest Contribution: Buti Manamela, National Secretary - YCL.

(In celebrating Youth Day, this edition's Red Alert is given to the YCL for its message to the youth of our country on eve of 16 June 2005)

The needs and interests of the youth of our country have been compromised by the dominant capitalist economy, and thus, compromising the gains that the ANC-led government have ushered for the past 11 years.

As we celebrate tomorrow the 29th Anniversary of Youth Day, we do so with quantitative and qualitative gains to show for the youth of our country.

However, these gains are coupled with setbacks that resulted from a failing capitalist economy, with more focus on profit maximisation, co-option of a section of the aspirant black capitalist elite to give legitimacy to the capitalist economy.

These setbacks also undermine the blood that was shed in 1976 for the equal liberation of the youth of today in economic, social and political terms.

Although the gallantry and brevity of the youth of 1976 laid a basis for a new wave of popular and mass protest against the Apartheid government, and actually brought it to its knees, those actions are at the risk of compromise by a dominant capitalist economy.

Going back to time, universities, schools, workplaces, farms and residential areas young people burned tyres, unleashed petrol bombs, and threw stones against real ammunition sprayed towards them by the ruthless regime.

What started mainly as a protest against the usage of Afrikaans became a broad movement against Apartheid.

It rekindled multiple actions against Apartheid when the ANC, the SACP and other liberation organisations were written off through arrests and exile.

The vacuum was ultimately filled, and the vision was brought back on track.

In their mind, their ultimate goal was one, bringing the minority government of the Nationalist Party to its knees.

From 1976, many young people found refuge in Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Zambia to join the ANC in exile.

Others were arrested and sentenced for many years into Robben Island.

In both exile and island, the youth build the bridge between the ANC that was banned and exiled or imprisoned with the vigour and zeal of their own time.

The Apartheid government would never have it nice and cosy - again!

June 16 has since been celebrated by many in the country, at both legal and illegal times, with each year being regarded as a step forward towards the liberation of our country.

With each message, hope was brought to the millions in our country that one day, freedom shall come.

In the same tradition, the YCL has decided to use this year's celebrations and remembrance to send a message that Capitalism has failed the youth, Socialism in our Lifetime.

This year's June 16 coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, the 20th Anniversary of COSATU, the 83rd Anniversary of the SACP and the 93rd Anniversary of the ANC. We are also celebrating this year the 11th Anniversary of our democracy, and thus, the context for the 29th Anniversary of June 16 is broader.

The fall of Apartheid was an obvious, inevitable but yet hard and exasperating struggle.

With its fall a lot of gains have been registered for the past 11 years by the ANC-led government, especially for the youth who are never to see Apartheid again.

These include access to water, electricity, housing, roads, food and many other basic services.

They also include access to education, better and free basic health care, access to the economy and a better social life.

They also includes a constitution, although negotiated, is regarded as one of the best in the world with its Section on Human Rights.

In unison, with disregard to their race, class or gender, the youth of the country have equal access to the government, participate in periodic elections and express their interests through their political formations, statutory structures such as the National Youth Commission and have economic support structures such as the Umsobomvu Youth Fund.

Today, the youth of the country can walk without fear of arbitrary arrests because they do not have their 'Dompas'.

Today, the youth of the country can study in any university or college of their choice irrespective of the colour of their skin.

The youth of 1976 send a clear message to the Apartheid government, and ultimately brought it to its knees, thus, laying a basis for the current positive developments.

It is the courage that the youth have displayed, even years before and after '76, that any unworkable, exclusionist, racist, exploitative, fascist regime cannot and will not survive.

The advent of democracy, with all the qualitative and quantitative gains that the youth of our country came with, have its own setbacks.

The action that the youth of that time took, with the many lives lost on the day and in the period, was to reverberate into our times.

The YCL believes that as the youth of today, we need to reconnect with those of 1976 and ensure that we take forward that which they laid the basis for.

We are faced with our own challenges today, with the advantages of a caring government to take those challenges forward.

These challenges that young people face includes the following:

A systemic co-option of youth into Black Economic Empowerment Elitism.

Our society have created a generation of young people who imagine life as a tale of wealth accumulation, whose basis is good university education and its products being flashy cars, flashy houses and a generally good life.

With the BEE Charter, many white capitalist companies are desperate to be seen as complying, and thus target the unknowing and vulnerable youth as their black ducks in a row to qualify for BEE deals, of course with a reasonable retainer fee.

Equally, this the social pressures exerted by society forces youth into drugs, crime, prostitutions and other means of wealth accumulation.

We believe that the current BEE model, based on co-option of aspirant black capitalists, has not benefited the youth of the country but served to legitimise the exclusionists Apartheid capital.

Young people should fight for BEE that create or sustains jobs, empower the workers and the poor in their multitudes and does not end up depriving young people of their socio-economic rights.

Unemployment and Poverty as a result of the failures of Apartheid Capital.

There is nearly 60% unemployment amongst the youth. This figure goes with 53% of South Africans who leave below the poverty line.

Most young people depend on direct or indirect social grants offered by the government. This clearly undermines the gains whose basis was laid by the youth of June '76.

There is a need for more action in fighting poverty and unemployment.

More and more jobs are being lost in the mining and textile industry, with the strong currency and cheap imports being at the centre of these problems.

Besides the job-loss bloodbath, there are more exploitative jobs that young people are absorbed into in the form of casualisation with retailers scoring huge marginal profits whilst saving a lot more money from wages.

Learnerships and skills development programmes are used either as a means to comply with the law, or as a means to replace 'costly' labour, thus losing their meaning.

The YCL has called for a numbers of proposals in this regard, including the training of youth in basic skills such as building and construction, electricity, motor-mechanic and plumbing; financing youth co-operatives and dedicating 30% of government procurement to these co-ops; ensuring that retrenchments are the last option on the part of employers; focusing on productive investments and giving incentives to companies that go this route.

Right to Education Impeded by High University Fees!

The YCL's campaigns for Free Education has a long route to go. In as much as we all have the right to education, this right is deprived by the high fees in universities and schools.

The quality of education provided for, especially in historically black institutions, remains questionable.

The YCL believes that it is only through Free Education that access, equity and redress can be achieved.

The youth of the country should, in reverberation of the demands of the youth of '76, join in unity to fight for free education.

High HIV/AIDS rate continuing to attack the youth, with no access to care, education and treatment.

The country's HIV/AIDS rate remains high particularly amongst the youth.

The YCL believes that a combination of factors such as treatment, care and education can help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The launch of the YCL's UFASIMBA BRIGADE sheds a new light into what is to become a committed cadre to contribute into the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The youth of the country should be much more active in this fight against HIV/AIDS.

Poor Service Delivery, which erupted legitimate uprisings by young people.

Young people are in the forefront everywhere in the country because they feel that they do not have access to basic services.

Although these uprisings have sometimes taken a violent form, they are based on legitimate demands that the youth of the country pursue.

They are as a result of the frustrations and impatience that young people experience on the ground.

To let loose members of the National Intelligence Authority on youth who have legitimate demands not only excercebates the problem, but also postpones it.

YCL members need to be in the forefront in support of these local struggles, and ensure that they take the opportunity to sharply raise these problems, and help to resolve these through the Know Your Neighbourhood Campaign.

Forward to Socialism in our Lifetime - A programme of the YCL.

The YCL believes that all these problems are as a result of a capitalist system that has inherent crises.

We need to be united in action and influence to expose and denounce this system and ensure that we create a system were we can all live together, equally, as the youth.

In memory and celebration of the lives of the youth of '76, the onus lies in our hands to complete the project they had started.

Lest we forget!
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SACP Press Statement   

The SACP national secretariat participated today in an extended ANC NWC in which ANC president, cde Thabo Mbeki, informed us of his decision as state president to withdraw cde Jacob Zuma as the deputy president of the country. The SACP respects the right of the president to appoint or remove members of his executive.

In the coming period, cde Zuma must be accorded the full dignity and respect he deserves. The SACP salutes the role he has played within our movement and in government, both within our country and internationally.

The SACP has consistently called for an end to a situation in which the deputy president is tried in public without being afforded a chance to do so for himself in a credible court of law. Last year the Public Protector in a report endorsed by Parliament came to a similar conclusion, finding that comrade Zuma's rights had been violated.

The uncertainties and divisions provoked by this matter within the alliance and within the ANC itself are, in part, the consequence of a situation in which it has been said by one of the organs of state that there is a prima facie case against cde Zuma, while at the same time he has never been charged. As the SACP we are calling for a credible judicial process in which cde Zuma will be afforded the right to state his own side of the story. Such a process will help to remove any suggestion of hidden political agendas behind this whole episode.

The SACP will continue to pursue the goal of deepening the cohesion of our alliance, based on a principled commitment to our shared programmatic goals. There are many important lessons that we need to derive from the current situation, among them is the imperative of ongoing engagement and discussion within the ANC and across the alliance in regard to the major challenges and problems facing us as a movement.

Kaizer Mohau
Media Liaison Officer
South African Communist Party (SACP)
Tel: 011 339 3621/2
Fax: 011 339 4244/6880
Cell: 073 571 7528