Jessie Duarte cautions youth against political activism on Twitter

The ANC's Jessie Duarte calls on young people to get involved in politics in practical terms and not through 'social media noise'. File photo.
The ANC's Jessie Duarte calls on young people to get involved in politics in practical terms and not through 'social media noise'. File photo.
Image: ANC via Twitter

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has called on young people to desist from being political activists on social media but to rather join those in the trenches.

Duarte was delivering a political lecture on “revolutionary democracy” on Thursday.

She said for the country's democracy to move a notch up, young people must get involved. But doing so by making “noise” on Twitter and Facebook was not going to help.

Duarte believes that political activism on social media breeds populists who are good for nothing.

Young people must join political parties and be active at branches and get into the state to be able to influence the kind of democracy they wanted, she said.

And sticking with their convictions come hell or high water was the only way to achieve a revolutionary democracy. It was high time for young people to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

“When you do things for people that is when democracy begins to fail. When you do things with people, that is when revolutionary democracy will survive and the left has not theorised and discussed much about revolutionary democracy in a long time,” said Duarte.

“And this is the debate that we need to have to strengthen the theory around revolutionary democracy. We need to understand who are the motive forces and must be honest towards finding change.

“The youth of SA are really silent at the moment on change but they're very vocal on personal matters that pertain to themselves. So the streets of Twitter are very active but the streets of Twitter do not give us enough space to debate on how best to participate in our democracy.

“And for that reason we see more and more populists arising, people who are shining one day and gone the next or people who speak this language this year on Twitter and Facebook and improve the same language the next year and they repeat and repeat that they are leading the people.

“But if you are serious about deepening democracy, you must participate in the democracy that you want to have. We do not wish to have a liberal democracy where policy is diluted constantly. We do not wish to see coalition governments because coalitions actually do not work in our context. But what we want to see is young people becoming the activists of today. The people who know and say, 'There are poor people living where I live, I am going to organise and mobilise to help to support them. I'm going to find out what is available within the government structure, so that I can teach them to know what to do about their lives.'

“The young people need to be the activists to understand what's going on in every school, in every clinic, on the soccer field and on the netball field. The young people are the ones who must know how to deepen our democracy.”

What was also derailing the struggle of young people in SA was the obsession with leadership positions.

Duarte said being an activist did not mean one should be the one leading by all means necessary as this “is of no consequence” when the generational mission of youth has been clearly defined and all are committed to fulfilling it.

“And then you choose a leader that you think will be able to carry the burden of a policy that will change the entire country. And a policy that when you implement it will create noise in the media and the leader who stands firm and says 'I'm not changing I'm implementing because this is what is good for the people.'

“That is the calibre of leaders that will make our democracy work.”

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