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UWC Debate: Youth League, politicians get a hammering

Posted 19 December, 2008 – 18:36 by Anonymous

By Esther Lewis

Activist Zackie Achmat showed no mercy when attacking the ANC Youth League, blasting the leadership as “corrupt”, and Dr Allan Boesak called politicians “selfish and silly”. The pair were guest speakers at the University of the Western Cape’s Student Society for Law and Social Justice’s first debate event on Thursday night. The topic revolved around political changes in the country and the role of students.

Speaking of the recent developments in the ANC, Boesak said the party was in total disarray and that there was indeed a crisis. However, he said it was one the country could get out of.No one had foreseen or prepared for the leadership crisis, based on ideologies. Politics and democracy had been eroded, Boesak said. “The reason (for this) is not just with politicians, however selfish and silly they have become. The South Africa I knew had a vibrant civil society. Everyone came together, everyone stood together and everyone acted together. “Today there are few organisations working to ensure that certain aspects don’t disappear into the quagmire we’ve made of it,” Boesak said. Criticising the youth organisations, Achmat said: “We’ve seen such corruption in the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League. I’m ashamed of what the ANC Youth League has become.” Achmat was one of the people involved in rebuilding the ANCYL in 1983. He told students it was their duty to reclaim the organisation. He lashed out at the inactivity of student groups on sustained campaigns which would improve education. Instead, he said groups like the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) and the SA Students Congress (Sasco) would rather march for the lowering of pass rates. “Sasco and Cosas want to make mediocrity and stupidity hallmarks of education,” he said. Speaking about Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s recent utterings of not voting at the next election, Achmat urged everyone to vote. “I’m going to vote for the ANC. Not because I believe we should have a corrupt president, or that (Mcebisi) Skwatsha is a great leader, or that the ANC is a corrupt and bourgeois party. But because there is no other political party which can unite coloured, white and black people.” Members of the party had a duty to be critical of it and had to do so publicly. Those who did not know who to vote for, should spoil their ballots. On the possible formation of Mosiuoa Lekota’s breakaway party, Achmat said there was no difference between Jacob Zuma and Lekota. Lekota, he said, was a “corrupt hypocrite”. “Rather my corrupt bastards than your corrupt bastards,” Achmat said to an auditorium exploding with cheers and laughter. The dilemma of who to vote for was a common one, he said, and the only other party with a decent support base was the DA. However, he said, while he considered DA leader Helen Zille a friend, he could never vote for her party. Both Achmat and Boesak urged students to take a more active role in changing politics. Key focuses, both agreed, should be education, protection of the constitution and the revival of civil societies at community level. Boesak expressed the need for students to now take up the new struggle for non-racialism, and for communities to organise themselves to put pressure on government. Achmat felt the most important way to revive student activism was for young people to start entering public service to ensure the state served the people. Dananai Muchemenye, chairperson of the UWC branch of the Student Society for Law and Social Justice, said Achmat and Boesak had strengthened their commitment to protecting the constitution and to promote and restart real student activism. This article was originally published on page 5 of Cape Argus on October 10, 2008