IFPYB/COPEYM Bilateral Meeting

 Remarks by Mkhuleko Hlengwa

Gauteng Legislature, Committee Room A: 1 November 2011 

 

On behalf of the entire Inkatha Freedom Party Youth Brigade family I wish to convey to you the warmest goodwill revolutionary greetings. We also wish to thank you for responding favourably to our request for this meeting.

 

It is indeed inspiring that as youth formations we have, through agreeing to meet today, risen above petty political divides and given priority to jointly seeking to find common ground on matters of youth interest in this country. Our meeting today signals a new beginning for cooperative politics and adds another important political brick as we build and grow our democracy. The fluidity of politics compels us to meet in this fashion so that we may share and learn from each other.

 

One of the resolutions coming out of the IFP's 31st Annual General Conference earlier this year states;

 

Noting the call by some opposition parties that there is an urgent need for the realignment of South Africa's fragmented opposition politics, which has led to the merger of the Independent Democrats with the Democratic Alliance,

resolved:

 

1. To re-affirm our view that co-operation among like-minded potential organisations is necessary to promote matters of common interests.

2. To nevertheless warn that since politics is the art of the possible, that such cooperation and mergers of different political parties should always serve the interests of the membership of those political parties and should therefore enjoy maximum support of the ordinary members of participating organisations.

3. That more intensive debate should be embarked upon, within political organizations, in order to determine that which will eventually in the best interest of South Africa, before concrete steps are taken in this direction. 

 

It is on the basis of this resolution that we have sought this meeting because we are concerned by the extent to which opposition parties in South Africa are fragmented. We believe that this fragmentation is dangerous because it does not serve the best interests of the youth of South Africa, and therefore does not serve the best interests of South Africa as a whole, as it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve cooperation and alignment on important issues which affect the youth of our country.

 

We have initiated these talks fully mindful that we are two separate entities, with different political persuasions and probably with different priorities.  But I know that there is one thing that we do have in common and that is serving the best interests of the youth of South Africa. 

 

We have come here today because we believe that COPE Youth Movement can be a reliable partner in our efforts to better the lives of South Africans and improve the sustainable livelihoods of youth. But as we begin the journey of discovering what it is that we can do together let me first introduce my beloved IFP to you. The purpose of the IFPYB is to serve the people of South Africa in the spirit of Ubuntu. That is reason why we get out of bed every morning - to serve the people of South Africa. Not ourselves but the people.

Our three fundamental values, which determine our behaviour and actions are; Freedom, Solidarity and Unity in diversity. That, in a nutshell, is who we are and forms the basis of how we will interact with you.

 

The reality is that all is not well in South Africa. Our country is characterised by unprecedented corruption, lawlessness, fraud, nepotism and a total disregard for service delivery. We need to make things right. We cannot accept the continued prevalence of dodgy deals and tenders. We must restore order. We must reclaim our freedom. And we must bridge the gap between the "have-nots" and the "haves-too-much."

 

The IFP believes that we have a responsibility to unite and strengthen the voice of opposition youth formations, because the greater majority of South Africans, and especially the Youth, struggle with serious poverty, unemployment and economic exclusion. I am sure you will agree that government has failed outright when it comes to youth economic opportunity and sustainability.

 

It is our conviction that working together we can begin to reverse the tide of entitlement, cynicism, hopelessness and despair that has swept up the youth of South Africa. We cannot allow ourselves to become victims by sitting idly by while only those with the loudest voices are heard. We have to do something to make a difference for now and for the future. We believe that if we shout together our collective voice will be easier to hear. And as our voice becomes louder and louder we must always be very careful that our aim is not to serve ourselves but the people of South Africa in the spirit of ubuntu.

 

We therefore propose today the formation of a multi-sector grassroots movement, led by the youth of South Africa to save our democracy and freedom. We need to unite our efforts and stand up and be the vanguards of democracy.

 

We can no longer standby and allow the ANCYL to dominate the youth political scene. Our perceived silence allows the Youth League to mislead the youth of our country.

 

It is our intention that we meet continuously in the future to explore ways and means of uniting our input into the developmental discourse of our country.

 

The raging debate on the nationalisation of mines and other major economic entities as a means of economic freedom is one we cannot afford to overlook.

It needs our input as we all seek to find a new, comprehensive, effective and efficient programme of action for job creation within the parameters and confines of an economy that is struggling to grow. The fact that unemployment levels are at 25% compels us to speedily confront unemployment with a renewed sense of urgency.

 

The Youth Brigade is not convinced that the nationalisation of mines and other economic entities is going to induce the much needed economic freedom for the youth and the people of South Africa in general. It is our view that the creation of jobs is the joint responsibility of both government and business. We must put renewed pressure on the business sector to pursue more development programmes, particularly in rural areas, in keeping with their corporate social responsibility programmes.

 

The National Youth Development Agency was created, as its name says, to facilitate youth development yet it has failed in many respects to make a meaningful contribution in this regard. Over the years, successive Youth Brigade Conferences have repeatedly called for the creation of a National Youth Ministry in order to ensure that youth issues are prioritised. Unfortunately our calls have fallen on deaf ears.

We believe that a National Youth Ministry should:

 

1. Be focused on implementation rather than mere coordination;
2. Operate in all three spheres of government;
3. Take the form of a fully-fledged and well-resourced Youth Ministry enabled to rapidly implement positive youth development and take responsibility for all youth affairs.

 

The status quo of the current situation should not be allowed to continue.

We should not allow youth development to be placed "outside" government as is currently. It is regrettable, but not surprising, that the NYDA has become nothing more than an employment agency for the youth of the ruling party.

We continue to advocate for "education for liberation" and "education for life". We expect government and business to fully resource all our schools and capacitate teachers with modern skills and knowledge to ensure quality education. We must give education the seriousness it deserves, if we are serious about our future. It is beyond worrying that 17 years into our democratic dispensation previously disadvantaged schools find themselves presently disadvantaged.

 

We have approached other opposition youth formations with a view to engage them as we are doing with you today. We are hopeful that in the future we may broaden our discussions and interactions through a multi-party summit of opposition youth formations, such that we may consolidate unity and strengthen our democracy and freedom.

 

It is our hope and belief that we will have productive, positive and meaningful talks today. For the sake of the youth of South Africa, may we be frank, forthright and honest in our deliberations.

 

I thank you!

 

Contact: Mkhuleko Hlengwa

IFP Youth Brigade National Chairperson

083 871 2711