South African’s National Liberation Movement

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National Conference​

Report of the Secretary General

6: League Reports

17 December 1997


The ANC Youth League derives its existence from the ANC Constitution, which operates as an autonomous structure, with its own constitution, programme, membership system and rules and regulations.

The role of the Youth League includes:

  • mobilising young people behind the vision of the ANC;
  • ensuring that young people play a role in the political life of the movement and the country;
  • serving as a preparatory school for young cadres of the ANC;
  • championing the interests of youth in the ANC and in society.

The Youth League emerged in 1995 from the changes of the previous year grappling to define a new role and programme for itself. The 19th National Congress in March 1996 was supposed to take place in December 1995, but was postponed due to differences with the ANC leadership.

The organisation report to that congress noted that the League was at one of the weakest points in its history, with large numbers of Youth League cadres being taken into the structures of the ANC; local leadership was young and inexperienced; and most local programmes tended to be inward-looking.

The last two years has seen a process of consolidation and greater vibrancy at all levels of the organisation. The Youth League has been able to decisively carve out a clear role and programme for itself.

State of organisation

The Youth League membership has steadily increased since the beginning of 1994, and stood this year at around 320 000 members. The overwhelming majority of members are unemployed youth and high school student; young women make up 35 percent; and African youth are in the overwhelming majority. There is a fair urban-rural balance.

There has been a slow but steady increase in the number of higher education students joining, but there are still few members from national minorities and professional youth.

During 1994-95 the League went through the process of aligning its provincial structures with those of the borders of the country. The bulk of Youth League branches are in African area, both formal and informal townships, though many branches suffer from problems of inactivity, irregular branch meetings, and little experience of mass mobilisation and organisation.

Youth League regional structures have no executive powers, but play an important coordinating role in the launching, reviving and servicing of branches. Their work is hampered however by a lack of resources. The League has nine provincial offices, which in most cases are shared with ANC provinces.

The League`s NEC has remained a fairly cohesive structure over the period. It has met regularly every three months. In addition to receiving inputs from ANC and Alliance leaders, these meetings have discussed the state of organisation of the League, the youth movement, and has reviewed and adopted its programme of action. The NEC also received financial statements and adopted the audited financial statements of the League.

Areas of work

Political Education Programme

The League has had a political education programme to build the political cohesiveness of the League and develop new leadership. The various workshops and cadre schools, while successful, have not however extended to the ordinary membership of the League.

Organisational development

One of the main weaknesses which the League has faced has been weak administrative and management systems. During this period, attempts have been made to rectify this through training of full-time staff and political personnel and developing organisational materials.

The 1996 Congress set up an NEC Commission on Operations and Evaluation to monitor the development of the League as an organisation and make recommendations to the NEC. The establishment of streamlined NEC sub-committees has assisted in the coordination of different programme areas.

Youth development

The 1994 ANC National Conference committed the ANC to assisting the League in developing a comprehensive youth policy. The Youth Policy document was finalised in October 1997 and integrated into the ANC Policy Conference processes.

The Youth Policy document forms the basis of the League`s input into the process of developing a Green Paper on Youth Development.

As part of the process of championing youth interests, the League has made various submission to Parliament and had meetings with various departments on legislation and policies. At provincial level, Youth League PECs have engaged with Premiers on the establishment of Provincial Youth Commissions and with relevant MECs on their youth programmes.

The National Youth Commission, after a long process of lobbying, was enacted and established in 1996. Since then, the Youth League has a established a Commission Task Team which meet from time to time to evaluate the work of the Youth Commission.

Five provinces have set up statutory Provincial Youth Commission to coordinate youth affairs in these provinces.

The Youth League has lobbied for the establishment of structures for youth developments at local government level, and a number of local councils have established such structures.

The League has taken up local and provincial campaigns around youth issues, including anti-crime, Aids awareness, back to school and anti-child abuse campaigns.

Education and training

The Youth League`s education and training desk has been very active in the ANC`s education work and in other education forums. The desk has coordinated the League`s participation in the education policy and legislative process. It also had a national workshop with campus branches and recruitment teams to develop a strategy for higher education transformation and the role of campus branches.

Political programmes

A process was started in 1996 to consolidate a Progressive Youth Alliance between the Youth League, Cosas and Sasco. The objectives of this alliance would include consolidating progressive youth organisations behind the vision of the ANC in a programmatic form. A joint NEC summit of the Progressive Youth Alliance organisations is being planned to look at its formalisation. The league has adopted a strategy of engaging with white youth organisations and other specific nation-building activities.

Bilateral meetings with the IFP Youth Brigade around the peace process in KwaZulu/Natal have taken place. The two organisations cooperated for the first time in joint 16 June activities in 1997.

International relations

The League has steadily over the past three years consolidated relations with youth organisation in the region, and at the end of 1996 formed a South African Youth Forum with progressive youth in the region. The Youth League has interacted with a number of youth organisations on the continent on a bilateral basis, and has had solidarity programmes with Western Sahara and Sudan.

The League stepped down as President of the World Federation of Democratic Youth in 1995, and hosted its General Council in Johannesburg in 1996. The League was accepted as a member of the International Union of Socialist Youth in 1996.

South African Youth Council

A process initiated by the League in late 1996 to form a National Youth Council led to an approach to Nedlac by the ANC Youth League, the IFP Youth Brigade and NP Youth Action to assist with facilitating the launch of the council. The South African Youth Council was subsequently launched in August 1997.


The League established a gender desk at its 1996 Congress. The Youth League initiated a forum of youth women`s organisations to input into the Youth Commission and Youth Council on gender issues. The desk is working on a sexual harassment policy which will be incorporated in the League`s Code of Conduct.

Financial management and fundraising

The League has been mainly dependent on the ANC through monthly allocations for most of its operations and programmes. Other fund-raising over the period include an allocation from the Dutch agency NZA, membership fees and occasional donations.

The League has started an investment arm, the National Youth Empowerment Trust, trading as the Youth League Trade and Investments Holdings (Pty) Ltd. A number of provinces and leagues have started similar initiatives.

The League`s National Congress and NEC over the years have adopted audited financial statements, although most of these have been qualified due to inadequate systems. This has been rectified and the 1996 audit was unqualified.

Future plans and priorities

The League is preparing for its next Congress, which will take place from 16-22 March 1998. The main focus of the Congress will be to assess the programme of organisational development, map out priorities and a programme for the League and prepare the League to contribute to the ANC winning an increased majority in the 1999 elections.



The ANC Women`s League has been entangled in internal differences since its 1993 Conference, and saw a number of NEC members resign in 1995. The ANC intervened to resolve the problems, which resulted in the Rustenburg Conference in April 1997 from which the League emerged united and strengthened.

Beijing Conference

The Women`s League was part of the delegation to Dakar and Beijing Conferences, and reportbacks were made to all League regions. The League adopted a programme of action based on the Platform of Action adopted in Beijing. This included:

  • a workshop on Women and Reproductive Rights, which assisted in preparations for the Termination of Pregnancy Act;
  • a workshop on Women and Rural Development, which looked into improving the status and lives of rural women;
  • a conference in women ex-combatants, which recommended that the Women`s League should strive towards involving women in peace processes throughout Africa.

August 9 Celebrations

The Women`s League was part of the preparations for the 40th Anniversary of the 9 August 1956 women`s march. The League was able to extend its hand and share the activities of August 9 with other women`s organisations with the aim of showing them the importance of the day and the need for unity among women.

Women`s League Conference

After the 1997 April Conference the WL has been able to implement some of the decisions of the Conference. The Conference report has been distributed to all branches of the ANC Women`s League, the ANC NEC and the Youth League NEC.


The Women`s League`s departments are in line with those of the ANC.

The Political Education Department has produced a manual for Women`s League branches. The League has also held a national workshop and seven provincial workshops which assisted in inducting the National Executive Committee.

The League has returned to the Pan African Women`s Organisation, and has started relating with other women`s organisations in Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia.

The Organising Department was involved in organising activities around the country on 9th August under the theme `No Violence against Women and Children`. The League has now got membership cards, and towards its objective of mobilising women to join the ANC, resolved at its Conference that people should join the ANC before joining the League.

The Policy Department is in the process of planning for a conference on women and economic empowerment, and has also enabled the Women`s League to make submissions on labour legislation.

Women`s Movement

The Women`s League has an enormous task of locating itself at the centre of the struggle for the emancipation of women. In order to do this it needs to continue to unite the broadest section of women behind the vision of the ANC.

The Women`s League will work with the NEC sub-committee on gender to convene a workshop to discuss the future of the Women`s National Coalition.