ANC must activate the youth
The path to radical economic transformation requires the input of a new generation of party leaders
THE 2019 electoral race belongs to the ANC. For all its haughtiness, the opposition is weak, both individually and collectively.
Even in a show of unity, and with the cheerleading of mainstream media and business, the opposition will finish a clear second to the ANC.
But the real endurance test for the ANC, which the party needs to prepare for now, is to ensure steady and sustainable traction among its most vital constituency – young South Africans.
The ANC will have to step up as the champion of the youth and as the authenticated pacesetter of radical economic transformation.
If the ANC fails to accomplish these two things, it will imperil its own longevity.
There is a marked fatigue among many ANC leaders.
Like seasoned but weary athletes, they reach for the finish line after a praiseworthy race, yet flag in the final stretch.
The gruelling marathon of political liberation, won on the stamina and sweat of so many comrades, was a victory in the race towards the attainment of freedom in South Africa.
But political democracy is just a single lap in the titanic battle for a free Azania.
The chase for radical economic transformation requires the steroid of youthfulness. Economic liberation will be won on the rise of a dexterous young leadership.
If the ANC’s forward vision, is fixed, as it should be, on a free Azania where the black child comes first, rather than on an unfree South Africa, immobilised by white domination, then the leadership baton must be passed on to an agile and able young leadership.
There is a sufficiently voluminous rank of young leaders in the ANC with well-flexed ideological muscle and excellent track records who are well poised for radical manoeuvre. This leadership must come to the fore inside a halo of support from veteran leaders, rather than in its shadow.
In my reading of the contemporary political topography, I sense a generational disconnect between the current ANC leadership and young South Africans.
A squad of young leaders within the ANC’s top leadership structures, including its top six, will lift any middle-age sag and rejuvenate the radical economic transformation agenda and ensure a stronger foothold among the youth.
This is crucial, especially given the undeniable spark that is developing between young South Africans and the EFF.
The DA, with its easy accent of whiteness, also holds a certain charm to a disinvested youth.
The great expectations of young South Africans should be reflected in every exhalation of policy formulation at this weekend’s national policy conference.
I would like to see the ANC’s national policy conference take on an unapologetic youth bias, and for the conference to extend well beyond the sallow halls of Nasrec and into the spaces of young South Africans.
I would like to see a nationwide sequence of people-powered policy podiums where there is discourse on key issues of land return, radical economic transformation and education.
There is a real need for authentic engagement with young South
The pitch, posture and pillars of promise of the ANC needs to be in concord with the everyday frustrations, aspirations and longings of young black South Africans to liberate themselves from a white-driven reality that has never honoured them.
As the ANC celebrates Oliver Tambo this year, the emergence of a young leadership would be a true tribute to this great leader.
In his words, “a country, a movement, a person, that does not value its youth does not deserve its future”.
It is both the gift and the responsibility of a dedicated, visionary incumbent leadership to give a new generation of leaders the roots and the wings to steer in economic liberation
The national policy conference and its policy framework must be a victory lap for South Africa’s youth.