Youth Day Speech 2011

Address by Premier of the Northern Cape, Mrs Hazel Jenkins on the occasion of Youth Day Celebrations, Pampierstad Community Hall, 16 June 2011

Programme Director
Honourable Members of the Executive Council
Honourable Councillors
Esteemed Representatives of different youth formations
Members of the community
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed with mixed emotions for me to recall the heroic deeds of the Class of ’76: deeds they executed relentlessly against a ruthless, oppressive and brutal apartheid junta 35 years ago on June 16 1976.

In paying homage to the heroines and heroes of the distinguished youth of ’76, I will forever be saddened by the fact that many of my peers and contemporaries paid the ultimate price. In the same breath the Class of 1976 catapulted the black masses on a road to socio-political reform where there would be no turning back. Put quite simply, we had indeed reached a point of no return.

For them it was never about self-gratification, or about positions of leadership or any other perceived or real reward. They committed themselves to the spirit of selflessness, sacrifice, strength and determination to fundamentally change the political, economic and social landscape of South Africa for the better.

The fierce resistance which they waged against the apartheid junta marked a turning point in the course of our national democratic revolution. Their actions led to a total onslaught on the apartheid regime which rendered it ungovernable and ineffective and a total pariah in the community of nations. These young lions, the class of 1976, demonstrated discipline, integrity, persistence and sacrifice in the face of adversity. They did not allow anything to deter them from achieving their objectives of liberating their Motherland.

These are but the ideals that the Class of 1976 fought for which was led, amongst others, by the likes of Tsietsi Mashinini. As we celebrate and look back 35 years later, we can ask the question, what have we done to advance the struggle of the Class of 1976? Surely the Class of 1976 has achieved its objectives, but it is the Class of 2011 that must take the struggle to greater heights!

We are maturing as a democracy and we have collectively matured as individuals. As youth we are obliged to exercise discipline and integrity in whatever course of action we wish to pursue: whether we are exercising our democratic right to vote, protest or strike. We cannot betray the ideals for which the youth of ’76 fought.

Many of these young people paid the supreme price so that we could enjoy the freedom today. One of them was Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, the brave Umkhonto We sizwe Combatant who was captured by the apartheid security forces during a gun battle. He was sentenced to death by hanging on 2 March 1978.

Mahlangu uttered the following prophetic words before they hanged him on 6 April 1979. "My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight."

Programme Director, while remembering and honouring past heroes, we will on this occasion of the 35th anniversary of June 16 reflect on youth empowerment and their participation in the country's socio-economic activities. The new growth path sets out a vision of five million jobs by 2020. We have agreed on the need to support employment creation in the jobs drivers as identified in the National Growth Path (NGP). These jobs drivers are infrastructure, the agricultural and mining value chains, manufacturing, tourism and other high-level services, rural development, the knowledge and green economies, the public services and the social economy.

These goals are central to our development as a country. The key to empowering women, workers, the impoverished rural population and young people is to provide them with the necessary economic opportunities – in jobs, access to resources and entrepreneurial opportunities, meaningful self employment creation by providing infrastructure, skills and an efficient and effective regulatory environment.

Some of the other main objectives of our Economic Empowerment Programme include:
• The economic emancipation and empowerment of our youth and women groups through skills acquisition for various trades and ventures;
• The creation of a business environment and economic culture which will address the absence of entrepreneurial know-how among our people;
• To stimulate the creative imagination, talent and curiosity of our youth in the pursuit for development and excellence;
• To promote self-reliance, particularly among our youth, thereby eliminating idleness with its attendant vices;
• To enhance the socio-economic status of our people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in line with this year’s theme, “Youth Action for Economic Freedom in our Lifetime,” we are determined to pursue our agenda aimed at improving the conditions of our youth in the province. Our young people continue to constitute the majority of the unemployed in our province and country in general.

This theme is befitting and consistent with the struggles of all young people in South Africa and abroad which is poverty and unemployment. It is consistent with the government’s commitment of meaningful economic transformation and inclusive growth towards the total eradication of poverty and towards the development of the South African community. This year’s Youth Month programme therefore seeks to retrace how far we have gone in realising the ideals that the 1976 generation fought and died for.

The theme further seeks to underline the NYDAs and government’s commitment towards the development of young people. This month and beyond, we seek to inspire and call on the youth participation in the national development programme to fight poverty and unemployment. We also seek to create decent work and better living conditions for all South Africans. In this regard young people are called upon to effectively participate in the struggle against unemployment and work side by side with government, through the NYDA. Lastly and most importantly the programme will communicate the NYDA and government’s achievements towards the development of youth, job creation and economic participation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we will use the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) as an effective vehicle to mitigate against poverty, unemployment and joblessness.

On this note, I wish to remind all of you gathered here that the government had launched the National Youth Development Agency, the NYDA, to integrate our youth to participate in the economy and all aspects of the society, including government.
This agency was tasked with the development of the National Youth Policy of 2009-2014, which culminated among others into the Integrated Youth Development Strategy.

This strategy aims to integrate the youth of this province and the country within government and other spheres outside government.

Tomorrow the National Youth Development Agency will commemorate its second anniversary. We salute our young people who took part during this morning’s outreach programme where government brought its services closer to the people. You went out in your numbers to clean the local cemetery, paint and fix some of existing RDP houses, clean the local clinic, and provided blankets and soup to the homeless. When rolling out the programme, we indeed drew some inspiration from our President, the honourable Jacob Zuma’s call that “WORKING TOGETHER WE CAN DO MORE”

The National Youth Development Agency in the Northern Cape has unveiled its programme of action, to show how the government interacts with the youth in bringing services closer to them this month and beyond.

Most notably the NYDA has adopted eight Key Performance Areas (KPAs) in order to map and monitor the development of the youth over time. These include:
• Economic Participation,
• Education and Skills Development
• Effective and Efficient Resource Management
• Information Services and Communications
• National Youth Service
• Policy and Advocacy
• Research
• Monitoring and Evaluation and Social Cohesion.

The unavailability of quality education and relevant skills to young people all over the country remains a serious problem. Attention must be paid to improving our educational levels so that we are able to produce the necessary skills that are relevant for our modern economy.

Programme Director, young women and men who live in rural areas are the world’s future farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders. The challenges of meeting future food demand, developing vibrant rural centres and promoting broad-based economic growth in developing countries depend on them. These are compelling reasons to place rural young people and smallholder agriculture at the forefront of global strategies for food security, poverty reduction and income growth.

Today’s generation of young people is the largest in history. In developing countries, young people make up on average 20% of the population, and as such they represent a huge potential resource to those countries. Yet ironically, rural areas are benefitting fully from this resource - indeed many rural communities are ageing precisely because, in the absence of incentives to remain there, young women and men are leaving rural areas to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Ladies and Gentlemen, resolving this contradiction and responding to the challenges of enhanced agricultural productivity and rural economic growth demands at least three things. It requires investment in social and economic infrastructure in rural areas, the creation of remunerative economic opportunities for young people in agriculture and the rural non-farm economy, and the provision of expanded opportunities for young men and women to build the capacity and skills so that they take advantage of these opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we must emulate the exemplary role of the class of 76’ by taking responsibility to intensify the struggle against the challenges that we face as young people such as HIV/AIDS which decimate the most productive citizens of our society, stem the tide against the abuse of alcohol, drugs and the Oka Pipe, teenage pregnancy, fight the abuse and rape of women and children in our society and eliminate crime and violence by being vigilant and to report these ills to the relevant authorities.

In paying tribute to Mama Sisulu during her funeral service, President Jacob Zuma said that we will be marking the 35th anniversary of the June 16 uprising, which is the most powerful symbol of youth resistance against apartheid.
The message of the 2011 Youth Month is that the political freedom that has been achieved must now translate into economic emancipation, so that we can eradicate inequality, poverty and unemployment that continue to afflict our people.

In memory of Mama Sisulu, our youth must use the available opportunities to obtain education and skills that will enable them to take forward the struggle for true economic and social emancipation.

Our youth must strive for excellence and progress so that they can be rightful beneficiaries of Mama Sisulu’s legacy and that of all heroes of the South African national democratic revolution.

We also urge the youth to learn from Mama Sisulu the values of respect for the next person, selflessness, patriotism and commitment to making this country a better place.

Ladies and Gentlemen, being mindful of the selfless endeavours of the Class of ’76, the youth of today should never forget the sacrifices that were made in order for us to be able to enjoy the freedom that we have today. They can do so by ensuring that they skill and equip themselves with knowledge and education in order to uphold the principles and values of the Freedom Charter so that we may never again experience the injustices, persecution and dominance of one race over the other.

As we commemorate Youth Month let us be reminded that more remains to be done. All sectors of society must be committed to the course of youth economic development to ensure that the struggle of the 1976 generation was not in vain, but one through which we are all able to realise the true meaning of freedom and democracy.

I thank you Kealeboga
Ndiyabulela Baie dankie

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