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Young people taking responsibility to “Live the Legacy: Towards a Socio-Economically Empowered Youth”


4 JUNE 2018


Programme Director;

Premier of Gauteng Province, the Honourable David Makhura;

Minister of Arts and Culture, the Honourable Nathi Mthethwa;

Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Mr Sifiso Mtsweni;

Alumni of the ’76 generation and erstwhile Youth leaders,

Delegates from the various youth formations;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen


1.    Introduction

It is a great honour to launch this year’s Youth Month almost 44 years after the brutal act of the Apartheid regime against millions of innocent and revolutionary young people and children of South Africa.  The generation of ‘76 laid a solid foundation in our fight against cultural domination and oppression, in the context of a multifaceted struggle for liberation. They were the young people who swelled the ranks of the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe.

The tipping point for the Young people throughout the country, as they took to the streets resisting the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, and the apartheid security police responded with live ammunition, killing scores of unarmed youth on 16 June 1976. We commemorate Youth Month in honour of the young people, many of whom paid the ultimate price in the course of our struggle. It is therefore fitting that we launch this year’s Youth Month at the Hector Pieterson Museum, just a stone’s throw away from the humble homes of Tata Nelson Mandela and Mam’ Albertina Sisulu whose centenaries we also celebrate this year.


Our launch also takes place hardly a month since the passing of one of our liberation’s cultural custodians, Mr Sam Nzima, who captured for the world to see the brutality of the Apartheid system which turned live ammunition on a defenceless but assertive youth.  It is also almost fortnight since we have laid to rest one of our movement’s stalwarts, Mr Eddie Funde, who had the responsibility (as International Head of the ANC Youth Section) to integrate the hundreds of thousands of young people who fled the country in the wake of the ’76 uprisings.

We've been celebrating this youth month since the dawn of democracy, part of our monitoring and evaluation, we will start a process of engaging through dialogues with the youth about what youth month means to them and their views on how it should be celebrated, this dialogue we will start with the youth of Soweto shortly.


2.     Youth also have a responsibility for their development

Ladies and Gentlemen, I cite Tata Madiba, Ma Sisulu and these departed cadres as a means of displaying that all of them (and many more) had one important common feature --- that is they took RESPONSIBILITY at the prime of their youth, at times beyond their means, imaginations and age, despite the adversities and difficulties they faced.


It is for this reason that we have chosen the theme “Live the Legacy: Towards a Socio-Economically Empowered Youth”, for this year’s youth month, because we recognise the responsibilities young people have as principal actors in their own socio economic empowerment.  We must live the legacy.  To paraphrase what Tata Madiba once said:

Our youth is our future. Whether our country will rise from the ashes of apartheid to become one of the world’s success stories will, to a large extent, depend on…our youth.

As we gather to launch Youth Month, we must recommit ourselves to youth development as envisaged by Madiba and subsequent generations.  Youth month reminds us about the importance of investing in our youth as a way of building a better tomorrow. The journey towards building a better tomorrow will be excelerated, with the youth taking up more responsibility for their own development. 


3.    Inequality and Youth Unemployment


In asking the youth to take up more responsibilities, we are not oblivious to their realities and challenges. According to a report by The World Bank entitled “Overcoming Poverty and Inequality in South Africa”, South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world in by any measure:

     ·         Consumption inequality - Conditions Survey 2014/15 found that the country had a Gini coefficient of 0.63 in 2015, the highest in the world and an increase since 1994. Further analysis of consumption expenditure trends provides evidence that the very poor—those in the bottom 10 percent—grew at a slower pace than the rest of the population between 2006 and 2015

     ·         Inequality of opportunity - An estimation of the inequality of opportunity index and its ratio to overall inequality found that inequality of opportunity in South Africa is high relative to its comparators.

     ·         Wage inequality - South Africa has a high concentration of low income earners (the poor) and a few very high-income earners (the rich or elite), but only a small number of middle-income earners, resulting in a high level of income polarization.

     ·         Inequality of wealth - Ownership of financial assets features prominently among the factors that influence wealth inequality. For the poor, financial assets represent 36 percent of total assets compared to 75 percent for the rich.

     ·         Low inter-generational mobility –Intergenerational mobility in South Africa is low in comparison to other countries indicating an enduring link between life outcomes for a given generation versus those of the previous generation, which is an obstacle to inequality reduction.

This level of polarization has not changed over time, and this has had a sustained negative impact on youth unemployment.

Young people constitute 70% of our population. We can benefit from being amongst the youngest population in the world if we invest in our young people then we can reap the demographic dividend, but according to Stats South Africa 3 million of our young people aged between 15 and 24 years are Neither in Employment, Education nor Training (NEET).  This means that the bias of government policy must shift towards youth development and empowerment. 

Young people have an immense opportunity to influence South Africa’s political landscape. However, research reflects the low levels of youth participation in democratic institutions, low voter turnout among the youth and seemingly low levels of interest in political activities. Young people should participate in the democratic processes for example the hearings that are taking place in parliament such as the issue of land expropriation without compensation. Because land is a critical asset for wealth creation, agriculture, business, social infrastructure and also for an important asset that will move us away from apartheid spatial planning.

[ Efforts such as the recently launched Africa Continental Free Trade Area, which is a single continental market for goods and services, will require highly skilled Africans. Young entrepreneurs must be active players in the free trade area. Again the youth of today have the responsibility to be active participants and leaders of such exciting and unfolding continental trajectory and path, through AU led programmes such as the African Youth Volunteer Corps, amongst other initiatives. ]


4.     Government Interventions

4.1.       Education, Culture,  Health, Sports and Recreation

In actively participating in their own development the youth have the responsibility to ensure that they play their part by making education fashionable.


Education is the single most important equalizer and an important stepping stone towards employment and the addressing of intergenerational poverty and inequality.  This was one of the motivators to providing resources towards no-fee-paying schools and free tertiary education. 

As Government we should increase our investment in the cultural industries. Arts and Culture and the creative industry in general have the potential to drive sustainable development and create inclusive job opportunities.  Our policies as government should recognise the viability of industries in sports and recreation and open opportunities for young entrepreneurs that are involved in those businesses.


Young people must also exploit the vast opportunities that are in the tourism and oceans economy sector. These sectors have immense vocational and entreprenurial opportunities such as


4.2.    The 4th Industrial Revolution

Ladies and Gentlemen, in taking up their responsibilities towards an educated and healthy nation young people also have the responsibility to equip themselves to take up opportunities presented by the 4th industrial revolution.  These opportunities require greater innovation and a more focussed skills revolution which will equip our society with capabilities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) areas.

In order to reach our innovation targets we must increase our gross expenditure on research and development. We must also call on the private sector to continue and accelerate research based partnerships aimed at facilitating for product and service development as well as innovation.  

Innovative programmes such as RU-FORUM, which is an African network of Universities in the Agriculture, through private sector support of innovations by young people coupled with partnerships with the academic, civil society and public sectors, we can facilitate for community based solutions for our own communities.


4.3.    The NYDA and NYS

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the combination of youth activism and innovation with the foundation of local knowledge that will accelerate us into the path of the Africa We Want.  Consequently, it is against this backdrop that part of the task of the NYDA Mobile Office is to ensure that opportunities are accessible at the fingertips of youth using mobile phones by giving them access to free Wi-Fi. We must as Tata Mandela and Mam Sisulu did volunteer our time and skills to support these and other initiatives aimed at reaching young people and servicing our communities.

One such programme is the National Youth Service which seeks to provide long-term and effective ways of reconstructing our society by developing the abilities of young people through service and learning.  The NYS is complemented by the efforts directed by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) which is informed by the National Youth Policy and coordinates and mainstreams youth development across all sectors of society.   



5.  Conclusion

We will continue to rollout a number of development programmes throughout the month as we commemorate Youth Month. I encourage youth to take part in these programmes so that they can benefit optimally from these initiatives.

As Mandoza once said, “Uzoyithola kanjani uhlel’ekoneni!”

Programme Director, allow me to commend all the organisations that invest in youth development programmes, and to conclude by recalling the words of Tata Madiba on the passing of Ma Sisulu, he wrote of her:

Through your selflessness and dedication, through your moral authority and sincere humility — during and after the struggle — you rightly earned to be the mother of all our people.

I hope that our cadres and people in general, will cherish your qualities, learn from them, and emulate them in their own lives and conduct.

I hope the young women and men of today take it as their responsibility to emulate this selfless life well lived.

We cannot afford any other heinous incident such as the alleged murder of Zolile Khumalo at the hands of a former boyfriend and fellow student.  We take this opportunity to commend the justice system for the handling of the case of Karabo Mokoena, and call for such vigilance in similar cases.  We also wish to call on young people, particularly young men, to take up responsibility in securing the safety of all leaners and students.

Men must take responsibility in educating and acting against other men who met out violence against women and children we will not win the battle of violence against women and children.  Of course, these heinous acts are a mirror of the society we live in.  Society and families also have the responsibility to raise responsible young men and women, we dare not abdicate our responsibility as parents and siblings of the perpetrators, survivors and victims. 


I Thank you.

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