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Re-launch of the ANC Youth league

Placard: Let's have a president with hair, Soweto, Gauteng, 1989-10-29. Photograph by Gille de Vlieg. Archived as SAHA collection AL3274_G.36.6Once the ANC and other political parties were unbanned in 1990, youth within South Africa and in exile began to work to re-launch the ANCYL. SAYCO, which had already shown its allegiance to the ANC by adopting the Freedom Charter, began to dissolve its structures and work towards re-launching the Youth League. Its leadership joined the ANC Youth Section.

In 1991 the ANCYL was re-launched. Immediately it began to mobilise all youth in support of the negotiations process. Together with the ANC, the Youth League called for an interim government, the release of political prisoners and the formation of a Constituent Assembly.

After 1994, the ANCYL continued to work to mobilise the youth to support the ANC’s vision of a non-racial, democratic South Africa. It also aimed to support young people by trying to ensure that their economic and social interests were secured. The Youth League sees itself as a bridge between the generations, acting in the interests of the young, but taking the message of the established ANC to the youth, and vice versa. 

However, the ANCYL has had a bumpy road since its return. It has been racked by divisions, which have weakened the organization. In particular, the role of Julius Malema has been controversial. When he was elected as leader of the League in 2008, he did so under the platform of support for the president, Jacob Zuma. Malema went as far as to say that he and the Youth League were “prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma.” However, in 2010 Malema became openly critical of Zuma. He was found guilty of creating divisions within the ANC and of bringing the ANC into disrepute because of his actions. He was suspended for five years, later changed to expulsion. 

In March 2013 the ANC disbanded the Youth League’s National Executive Committee, thereby limiting its power. Many saw this move as deliberate attempt by the ANC to get rid of opponents of Zuma.

    Offset litho poster, produced by ANYL, 1990. Archived as SAHA collection AL2446_0814                     Archived as SAHA collection AL2541_J2.1                   Offset litho poster, produced by ANYL, 1990. Archived as SAHA collectio AL2446_1315


Exhibitions in the classroom  

Pausing for thought 

It seems that one of the problems of the ANCYL was that it began to get more involved in party politics and tended to ignore its original mandate, which was to secure better living conditions for the youth. In the light of this, do you think that youth organisations should not be allied to particular political parties and should work independently in the interests of young people? Discuss this issue as part of a class discussion.

Working together

In your groups, choose a particular issue in society that affects the youth of today. Develop a strategy to launch a web campaign around this issue. This strategy should include the following:

-          the aims of your campaign

-          what you stand for and what you hope to achieve

-          how people can support you in this campaign.

Then design a web page or page for Facebook and post the campaign on the Internet. Try to get as much support as possible around this issue. 



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