This generation cannot be the one that fails the ANC

ANC flag.
ANC flag.
Image: PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL/DAILY DISPATCH

At the provincial conference of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal last month, news came through that comrade Usher Mkhize, chairperson of the ANC Youth League's Coastal KZN TVET branch in Umlazi, south of Durban, had been shot dead.

We were devastated, yet another up-and-coming shining star in the ranks of the young lions was no more. His death came while we were still coming to terms with the killing of another ANCYL leader, Sthe Mhlongo, deputy secretary in the Moses Mabhida region who was shot at his home in November.

There have been many other comrades, even in the ANC, we have lost due to these political killings in KZN. We need to ask ourselves: where have we gone wrong as the movement? Why are we fighting each other? Have we lost a sense of purpose in terms of what it means to be an ANC member? Are we the generation that joined the ANC for all the wrong reasons? How history will judge us.

We need to ask ourselves what is really driving us and why? Is it power, is it deployments, is it access to the state machinery?

Why are we not fighting much over lack of service delivery, non-implementation of ANC policies in government, unemployment, women abuse and all other societal ills?

These are the elements we must begin to isolate and interrogate, and then deal with decisively. Unity and the renewal of our movement were the guiding principles in how we approached the conference and even how we elected the new leadership, and we feel that the time has come for this issue to be confronted.

Speaking at the ANC's first national consultative conference inside the country, in December 1990, OR Tambo said: "One can never overemphasise the importance of unity. Our very survival as a cohesive movement depends on our unity in action. The Struggle is far from over. If anything, it has become more complex, and, therefore, more difficult."

I cannot help but conclude that in his wisdom, he must have foreseen the years to come. That 28 years later, the unity in the ANC would be shaken to this level, and it's a struggle that is indeed complex.

However, like Tambo, as the ANCYL of today in KZN we believe that survival of the ANC depends on our unity in action and our ability to agitate for renewal of our movement and as such these are not optional. We cannot continue with business as usual when the movement is not united, when comrades are dying because of political killings.

While we appreciate the efforts by the police, we will continue to assist them and give space for the law to take its course. But politically, we can't fold our arms and do nothing while comrades are dying, while no one is safe. Political engagement on the matter is needed now.

Young people of the ANC in KZN look with hope towards the newly elected leadership to confront this issue that is threatening to weaken the strength of the movement going to the general elections next year. And more than anything, we cannot afford to lose any more lives.

The ANC cannot be about issuing statements and messages of condolences to the affected families. Our leadership must be at the forefront in fighting these killings. In the years building up to the country's first democratic elections in 1994, we overcame elements of political violence and we can do it again today.

As the ANCYL approaches its national congress, again unity and the need to reposition the league should be our guiding principles. We cannot be the generation that will fail in this purpose. Let us emerge united and ready to mobilise young people behind the vision and the mission of the ANC and champion the interests of young people. Our generational mission remains economic freedom in our lifetime. Amandla!

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