National Assembly: Cape Town, 7th June 2011
As I take to the podium, I would like to first and foremost pay
tribute to those young leaders who came before us, who changed the
course of history, and to which we owe an immense debt of gratitude
as we commemorate Youth Month.
We acknowledge that on 16 June 1976 more than 20 000 pupils from
Soweto embarked on a protest against the apartheid regime, which had
imposed Afrikaans as the medium of instruction at schools. In the
wake of the clashes with the police, and the violence that ensued
over the next few weeks, approximately 700 people, many of
them youths, were killed. These youths paid with their lives for the
struggle we were waging, but their actions were not in vain, for
they set in motion a chain of reactions which eventually led to the
demise of the apartheid regime. Today, I stand at this podium
knowing that it was their monumental efforts that afforded me the
opportunities, such as being a member of this august House, which I
am able to enjoy today.
But the struggle for freedom is not over. As the theme of this
debate recognizes, the struggle for today’s youth is crippling
poverty and the lack of job opportunities, which means that even
though we have attained our political freedom, we have yet to attain
our economic freedom. Indeed many commentators have labelled South
Africa’s youth unemployment levels, which currently stand at more
than 50%, a ticking time bomb. How then do we address this crisis
before we see the youth again taking matters into their own hands as
they did in 1976?
During the recently held IFP Youth Brigade Conference, the IFPYB
identified key issues that need to be addressed in order for our
youth to attain economic freedom in our lifetime. They are: youth
development and the dysfunctional NYDA; the fight against HIV/Aids;
the challenge of transforming South Africa from sliding into a
welfare state and South Africa’s struggling education system,
amongst other issues.
It is of paramount importance that South Africa’s youth is properly
organized, to promote positive citizenship, and to assist in
community development. Yet the current institutional structures such
as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) do not fulfil their
mandate because of their lack of focus, political bias, and lack of
Youth development under the NYDA has remained nothing but a
pipedream. Instead, this agency has been a vehicle through which the
rich have become richer. The notion of it being a body looking after
the interests of all young people vanished when the agency
appointment almost all its commissioners to its Provincial Advisory
Boards (PAB), from the ANCYL.
It is from this background that the IFP believes that President Zuma
must dissolve the NYDA, as it only serves the narrow interests of
the ANCYL elite and the 'tenderpreneurs' associated with it. In its
place, we must contemplate a new youth agency based on the
principles of “ubuntu/botho" that will assist youth to learn
self-respect and respect for others, while developing community
leadership, skills training and social skills. Such an institution
should: a) be focused on implementation rather than mere
coordination; b) operate in all three spheres of government; c) 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.
Another critical obstacle to the youth of South Africa attaining
economic freedom in our lifetime is the HIV/Aids pandemic. This
HIV/Aids pandemic continues to decimate South Africa's population,
despite ever-increasing government funding earmarked for the fight
against it, while the youth remains one of the most vulnerable
demographic groups affected by it. In addition, an ever increasing
proportion of our population relies on social grants in the absence
of job opportunities, the disconcerting emergence of a dependency
culture among our economically active population and the crucial
role that our youth can play in reversing this unsustainable slide
into a welfare state.
As the IFP we will continue to use all public forums, such as the
one we are given today, to urge the government to sharpen its focus
on job creation as an alternative to the expansion of social
welfare. We will continue to take the message of self-help and
self-reliance as an alternative to dependence on social welfare to
our schools, social networks, workplaces and communities. We will
continue to strive for flexibility in the labour market and to
campaign for the reduction of the cost of doing business in South
Africa so as to encourage direct foreign investment that actually
creates job opportunities. We will continue to lead by example and
become role models for our youth as they take their schooling and
studies seriously and aspire them to enter the job market on
completion of their formal education and/or aspire to become
entrepreneurs and create employment for themselves and others as an
alternative to life on social benefits.
Education remains one of the critical challenges to youth
development. The IFP remains of the opinion that our schools are not
adequately preparing our youth with skills that are needed to
enter the job market.
We reiterate our commitment to education as an instrument for the
upliftment of our disadvantaged communities dating back to Inkatha's
call for Education for Liberation, while we continue to deplore the
discrepancies between the government's commitment to improved
education and its spending patterns that prioritize wasteful
projects at the expense of education, especially under-resourced,
struggling rural schools. We reassert the long held view that
education is the cornerstone of opportunity.
While we as the IFP recognize and appreciate Parliament’s role in
getting the young thought leaders of our country together to debate
the issues that face the youth of South Africa today, the question
must be asked how much of a difference will it make to the plight of
our young people? How much of what we discuss here will in fact lead
to radical policy shifts that could indeed make a real difference to
young people in communities across the country, especially the
poorest of poor. I fear that each year a lot is said, but not much
These are the serious questions we must consider.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: We cannot always build the future
for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. Let us
strive to build a generation of youth that could ultimately deliver
our second liberation - that of economic freedom.
I thank you.