IFP Youth Brigade, June 16 Statement:
Let Us Get South Africa Working

By Mkhuleko Hlengwa MP
IFPYB National Chairperson

16 June 2014.


Today, being Youth Day, the eyes and memories of South Africans and the world over will momentarily fixate on the bravery of the Youth of 1976 and a thought will be spared for the brutality inflicted on the youth that day. In that moment we will see the brave heroism and commitment to education of the 1976 black child in the face of a scary and uncertain reality. A reality very much alive in 2014 whereby unemployment, poor education and police brutality are a permanent feature; thus the struggle of 1976 is one worthy to emulate.


The youth of 1976 were victims of a systematic and well-orchestrated assault on their education and future which, if it had been left unchallenged, would have prolonged apartheid and its scandalously oppressive tendencies.


Similarly, 20 years into our freedom and democracy and 38 years since June 16, 1976 the education system of South Africa is a far cry from what is needed to respond positively to the collective needs of the job market, leaving the youth wanting in an economic wilderness; jobless, hopeless and unable to contribute. The education system of our country is designed such that it prolongs the cycle of poverty and dependency in a disgusting ploy to manufacture voter-fodder and keep the current government in place “until Jesus comes back”. There is an overwhelming resistance to embrace quality education.


The government has deliberately killed the quality of education, and has deliberately kept schools under-resourced in South Africa in an attempt to consolidate voter fodder through the systematic creation of dependency.


The current poor state of education is a direct result of government's grand scheme to hold young South Africans to ransom and keep them at its mercy and keep them dependant on them. Without decent and quality education, and being unemployable, young South Africans are forced, rightly or wrongly, to turn to government for help; the government then pretends to be delivering when giving out social grants. No nation can survive on social grants alone.


South Africans are literally stuck between a rock and hard place, forced to accept whatever government gives them for survival, albeit that it is the very same government that put them in that hardship to begin with.


The youth of 1976 understood that freedom and democracy without decent and quality education was a recipe for disaster, and 38 years later that disaster is upon us. History will judge us very harshly if we fail as the youth of 2014 to stand up and fight the good fight for a better education.


Since 1994 the youth have been overlooked, side-lined and marginalised and reduced to mere spectators in the developmental discourse of modern day South Africa. We must, as a matter of urgency, establish and operationalise a fully-fledged Youth Department and Ministry in all 3 spheres of government. This is a call the IFPYB has been consistently making since 1997 and one we shall continue to make until it is realised.


This is an issue that the government has skirted around for far too long; this hide and seek game must come to an end.


On 13 November 2004 the IFP Youth Brigade sent a memorandum calling for the establishment of a Ministry of Youth Affairs to the Presidency; 10 years on we still await a reply.


The disjointed manner in which youth matters are being handled in this country is at best shameful and inconsistent with the dreams, hopes and aspirations of young South Africans. With each passing day unemployment is rising fast and the hopes of young South Africans are fading away and are lost to cheap, petty and nonsensical rhetoric about a so-called “good story to tell”.


The story of youth development is not good; rather it is a scary reality of desperation as each youth individually struggles to get a better life in world of empty promises.


Today is not a day to celebrate or commemorate but a day to begin a revolution of hope and action against a failing state and incompetent government in general and President in particular. Surely the youth of 2014 have every reason to emulate the youth of 1976 who stood up against a government whose mind-set and systems were at odds with youth success and development.


1976 will, and must, repeat itself in modern day South Africa because of poor education, poverty, unemployment, dependency and empty promises which are breeding grounds for desperation and frustration. The youth of 2014 must demand more because they deserve better to work their way out of escalating poverty and debilitating unemployment.


We must bring to life an active citizenry, especially amongst young people, which will have their fingers on the pulse of issues and have the courage to challenge the status quo. That is the legacy of 1976: stand up and be counted and change the course of history forever.


The high levels of inequality and ever increasing levels of unemployment and the endemic poverty currently characterising South Africa today should spur us into action to do something as young people.


Successive democratic government administrations have flooded us with ambitious plans which have all amounted to nought as our economy remains on its knees, and failing outright to create jobs.


Our only salvation now is the youth. 20 years into our freedom and democracy we need the full involvement of the youth in getting South Africa to work.


At the centre of the rebuilding process lies the need, and practicalisation of a quality education system that is able to respond to the needs of the job market by producing a workforce that has the necessary skills, underpinned by the required knowledge and expertise. We need to invest heavily into our education development.


Previously disadvantaged communities, and rural communities in the main, find themselves presently disadvantaged. The equality programs which have been championed since 1994 have had a grossly unfair bias towards the previously and presently advantaged sections of society, the urban communities and towards the connected and much to the neglect of young people.


The 1994 dream of prosperity and a "better life for all" is dead. South Africans, and the youth in particular, are struggling daily to make ends meet.


The struggle for freedom and democracy against apartheid is rendered in vain as even 18 years post-apartheid, life remains a struggle for the majority of our people. South Africans never struggled against apartheid to struggle in a free and democratic dispensation.


South Africa continues to battle to bring down inequality because in 1994 those in power moved from the wrong premise of seeking to disempower the strong to the levels of the weak. The correct approach was, and continues to be, that we must empower the weak towards the levels of the strong.


This approach should apply from education to healthcare to housing to infrastructure. Rural schools, clinics & hospitals and roads must be matched to the levels of their urban counterparts. The economic development and growth which we aspire to achieve will not come to fruition in the absence of clear priorities. Education and skills development are a catalyst for youth-economic development and job creation.


As young people we are challenged by history and invited by the future to be active citizens and bring about change for the better without fear, favour or compromise; nothing would make the Youth of 1976 prouder.


Let the revolution begin; a revolution of hope and action underpinned by political will to get things done.