DURBAN – President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday urged the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) to participate in the party’s policy conference next year.
Speaking at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban at the youth league’s economic freedom lecture series, Zuma said that the youth had to look deeper into ANC policy, question it and seek amendments if policies were not working.
“You must look at what has happened, the changes made, since the ANC came into power. As the ANCYL, you are not starting anything new.
We have policies that are new and we have the implementation of those policies. We mustn’t discuss policies as if they are new,” he said.
Zuma was joined on stage by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, ANCYL president Collen Maine, eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Super Zuma and others.
South African Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni and Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi, president of the Progressive Professionals Forum, sat with other dignitaries in the front row for the duration of the lecture.
Zuma said it was a fact that the white minority had “monopolised everything” for hundreds of years and it was the ANC that was correcting the situation.
In order to change this monopolisation, the ANC’s vision rested on the freedom charter, which stated that all people should govern in the country’s wealth.
“You mustn’t just read the freedom charter. You must study it, understand it and fully relate it to the policies that are being implemented today,” he said.
In June, the party would hold its national policy conference, a time for reflection on the progress made through ANC policy. This would include radical economic transformation, he said.
“Today’s lecture contributes to the process of that reflection. Each ANC conference takes stock of the progress made to achieve our goals,” he said.
He said that although policy had allowed progress to be made in redistribution of economic assets and work opportunities, the expectations stated in 1994 had not been met.
There was no shortage of policies and programmes within government, he said, and the party’s approach to economic transformation was guided by empowering the historically oppressed, blacks and the working class in particular.
“We can’t be shy about the economy being constructed on a racial basis.
It is an anomaly to have the black majority participating in the economy as workers. In any country, it is the indigenous that are in charge. We are an exception because of the policies from colonialism to Apartheid,” he said.
The economy needed to be corrected so that economic expansion could be achieved.
“We want decent opportunities for all South Africans. If you see the conditions that some black South African live in, you would not think that we have been liberated.”
There was no “invisible hand” that would bring about change.
“We can pray day and night. There will be no invisible hand. The situation needs us to stand up and change it,” he said.
He urged the youth to ask themselves if the restructuring of the state and society that had to take place after apartheid was sufficient, and if so, how it was done. This included the need to redistribute power and get rid of institutionalised inequality.
“The ANC is mandated to undo the damage of the past. Have we done enough?” he asked.
Although gains had been made in uplifting black Africans and growing the black middle class, it was still difficult to overlook the fact that the average white household income was six times that of the average black household income, he said.
“Management and control of the economy is still in the hands of whites, white males. The ownership of the major companies on the JSE remains white. Therefore the ANC needs to broaden the implementation of its policies,” he said.
He said blacks must be in control of the information, mining, agriculture and other sectors to ensure sustained growth.
Earlier, Maine questioned Zuma over why he had bowed to pressure to have Des van Rooyen replaced as finance minister in December 2015. He said that the country should not be afraid of letting the rand fall.
– African News Agency (ANA)