The ANC Youth League must not apologise for calling for economic freedom and the nationalisation of mines, ANC national executive member Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday.
“You are the only ones [ANCYL] who have opened the debate,” Mbalula told students at Wits University in Johannesburg. He was speaking at the ANCYL’s 68th anniversary lecture.
“Some of us in the movement are even afraid to utter the words economic freedom in our lifetime. What you must do comrades is to deepen your understanding of economic freedom.
“It’s the song everyone must sing about. Even the left in this country, the Communist Party, Cosatu, [and] some of your comrades are afraid to say economic freedom.”
This was because it was associated with individuals, Mbalula said -referring to expelled ANCYL leader Julius Malema.
He told the youth league that freedom was about them.
“It is about total liberation and if you are not going to talk about it who else will? Why shouldn’t the youth be obsessed with economic power?”
Mbalula said ANCYL must be careful because when the “second revolution” came it could be hijacked by opportunists.
“They will take it and tear us apart and run with the economic struggle.”
ANCYL has been critical of the second transition which was proposed and debated at the African National Congress’ policy conference in June.
Mbalula said the second transition could not be reduced to freedom songs and leadership.
“If you start singing you’ll never understand the debate,” he said.
“A transition is not an event, it’s a process and a journey.” He was referring to songs in support of ANC leaders.
Members of the party supporting President Jacob Zuma would show two fingers indicating a second term, while others would show the soccer sign for a change over.
These songs and signs were killing the debate, said Mbalula.
Mbalula said the voice of reason was being suppressed by who could sing the loudest.
“The politics of today is reduced to the politics of freedom songs. That is why we don’t know what our future and vision is,” said Mbalula.
He told the ANCYL not to allow the organisation to be suppressed.
“Think comrades… then you will find allies [in the ANC].”
The ANCYL must not be scared to say that they were unhappy with the leadership elected at the ANC’s elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.
Mbalula said Mangaung was going to be different to Polokwane.
In Polokwane the youth league was fighting for political change not economic freedom.
“Elect people [at Mangaung] and give them a programme of action… Tie them to that,” he said.
Mbalula received a rousing welcome from the ANCYL members at Wits University.
The students sang songs in support of him, deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and Malema.
The ANCYL is calling for Mbalula to be elected the ruling party’s secretary-general at the elective conference in December. It is also calling for President Jacob Zuma to be replaced by Motlanthe.
Nominations for the ANC leadership was expected to open next month. – Sapa