The 17th World Festival of Youth and Students was held at the Pretoria Show Grounds, South Africa, during the week beginning 13 December. Red Youth, the youth wing of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) (CPGB-ML) was represented by Comrades Paul Cannon and Ranjeet Brar. As the responsibility for organising the Youth and Student delegation of Britain was in the hands of the YCL, the youth wing of the CPB, every attempt was made by the latter to stop Red Youth from being represented at this important international gathering.
Whether for reasons of sectarianism or sheer incompetence – possibly both – the YCL simply refused, with one exception, to communicate with Red Youth. Faced with these uncomradely, not to say reactionary, tactics Red Youth took the decision to send a delegation all the same.
On the evening of the first day of the Festival, the South African President, Jacob Zuma, addressed the delegates and his address was prominently featured in the South African media.
On arriving at the venue of the Festival, the Red Youth delegates discovered that “there were in fact no other delegates from the UK, from which we infer that the CPB ‘youth’ delegation simply imploded, and they took the decision to stop communicating with us to try and stop us from having a monopoly on the delegation. There was a ‘UK’ stand which we were able to occupy and distribute much of our propaganda.”
On the same day, the Red Youth comrades entered the main meeting hall occupied by 400 delegates discussing the Land Redistribution Program in Zimbabwe. Paul recognised Cde Anastasia Ndluvu of ZANU-PF, whom he met in Venezuela with Katt at the 16th WFYS. Cde Ndluvu has since become an MP in Zimbabwe and was leading a 500 strong delegation of the ZANU-PF Youth League to the Festival.
Cde Anastasia Ndluvu invited Cde Paul to address the meeting and he did so following some negative and critical remarks from a number of members of SACP in the audience. Paul was able to deliver a message of solidarity from the CPGB-ML on behalf of the progressive working people of Britain, that was greeted with rapturous applause, and ended with spontaneous cheering, dancing and singing of the song “mishiwi wam” (translation: bring me my machine gun!) Following this Paul and Ranjeet were interviewed by Zim TV.
During his speech Paul made the following remarks:
“Thank you comrades, I bring greetings to the Festival and to Zanu (PF) from Britain as a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist – Leninist). I can assure the meeting that we continue our solidarity work through our Party and the Zimbabwe Solidarity Front in Britain, and we stand with you still.
“Comrades, Britain’s role in Zimbabwe has been thoroughly disgraceful, stretching right back to the days of Cecil Rhodes and the Victorian colonisers of the 19th century. When these thieves took the land from the Zimbabwean people they didn’t take just any old land, no, they took the very best land, the most fertile land in Zimbabwe! [Applause and loud agreement!]
“And comrades, there is a myth being perpetrated by the imperialists, indeed it is much worse than a myth for it is a giant lie; the lie which these thieves are spreading is that the economic problems Zimbabwe has suffered have been as a result of the mismanagement of the land! But we know that the economic problems that Zimbabwe has suffered have been the direct result of imperialism! [loud and stormy applause and cheering]
“To stand in solidarity with Zimbabwe and ZANU is not an easy task in Britain, but we will continue to stand on the side of justice, on the side of Zimbabwe, on the side of ZANU. [Applause] The work you are doing is helping us in our struggle back home against our common enemy, the British ruling class. The conditions of the British workers deteriorate day by day, and we are aided in our struggle by movements such as yours which reign down blows upon the British ruling class which exploits us both. Comrades, we thank you for helping us in our task by kicking British imperialism out of your country once and for all! [Stormy applause]
“I would like to end with our common slogans: Down with imperialism! Viva Chimurenga! Viva Comrade Mugabe! Viva Zanu!”
While in South Africa, in addition to extensive conversations with the ZANU-PF youth leader, the Red Youth delegation held bilateral meetings on matters of mutual interest with the representatives of youth organisations from the DPRK (Kim Il Sung Youth League); Sweden (Revolutionary Communist Youth – RKU – youth wing of the Communist Party of Sweden); Latvia (Socialist Party of Latvia); Belgium (COMAC, youth section of the PTB); Syria (youth wing of the Communist Party of Syria, as well as the Socialist Party of Syria); Spain (Collective of Young Communists – CJC – youth wing of the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain – PCPE); Greece (Communist Youth of Greece – KNE – youth wing of the KKE); Turkey (youth section of the Turkish Communist Party – TKP); Denmark (youth wing of the Communist Party of Denmark); and India (youth delegation from the CPI(M)).
The Red Youth delegation’s interview with the leader of ZANU-PF Youth League can be seen on YouTube – ProletarianCPGML’s Channel, listed as Zimbabwe Speaks 1.m4v.
A more detailed report of the Festival will appear in the February/March issue of Proletarian, the organ of the CPGB-ML.