Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) at a UDM Youth Day Rally, on Sunday, 16 June 2013 at Blybank Taxi Rank (Carletonville, Gauteng)
Members of the UDM NEC;
Presidents of the UDM Youth Vanguard and Women’s Organisation
UDM Public Representatives
Fellow UDM members and supporters and
Young South Africans
Thank you to each person who took the time to celebrate Youth Day with the United Democratic Movement (UDM) today. To the UDM structures in Gauteng, thank you for the hard work.
To our Secretary General, Mr Bongani Msomi, our National Treasurer, Mrs Thandi Nontenja, a special thank you for the time and effort you invested to make today a success.
YOUTH DAY 2013
Every year we commemorate the sacrifices made by our youth on 16 June 1976 in the Soweto. The iconic picture of Hector Pieterson, brought home to many people, within and outside South Africa, the unfairness and brutality of the Apartheid regime.
What happened that day is a testimony to the innate strength and tenacity of young South Africans. Our youth knows what is right, and what is wrong. They have the courage to stick to their convictions and stand their ground in the face of terrible odds.
The UDM is convinced that the youth of today, across racial lines, is capable of consolidating and protecting the order that was ushered in after all the suffering, sacrifice and dedication.
SOUTH AFRICA TODAY
Yes, we have attained political freedom, but much still needs to be done to realise the dreams and the aspirations of our fallen heroes and heroines.
When we assess South Africa since 1994 we need to ask: “Are South Africans more free in 2013?”. Or, has past eighteen years of unemployment undermined our hard won freedom?
Despite the major strides that have been made, unemployment is ever increasing; poverty and homelessness are everywhere, crime holds people hostage in their homes, our hospitals have become places of death, our education system fails to provide adequate skills for employment and the majority is still without property.
To add insult to this list of injuries, our Government wastes millions-upon-millions of Rands to pay consultants to tell them what “the realities are” – as if they cannot see with our own eyes.
These so-called consultants come with their “cut-and-paste solutions” that are a mere regurgitation of their proposed solutions of last year (and the year before). Of the projects that find their way to implementation, the majority are of such poor quality, they have to hire more consultants to tell them they have failed.
Of course it makes sense, if you are a card-carrying member of the ruling party, to register such a “consultancy”. Become a tenderpreneur and build a bridge to nowhere or, even better, hire a boyfriend, or a wife and a few mzalas to “share in the profits” at the expense of our people.
THE UDM’s PROPOSAL FOR AN ECONOMIC INDABA
South Africans, young and old, daily ask some of the following questions:
- Why have subsidies, intended to help labour intensive industries, disappeared?
- Why was our skilled and unskilled labour force never absorbed into labour intensive industries?
- Why did the promise of thousands of job opportunities never realised; and why has government failed to combat poverty and joblessness?
- Why was the dream of free education, which was promised in 1994, never realised?
- Why do hospitals and clinics run out of medicines, and lack proper equipment?
- Why do doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants (such as soldiers and police officers) earn paltry salaries and why do they leave for greener pastures?
- Why do we loose billions of Rands because of the capital and skills flight – with one in four young South Africans wanting to leave?
- Why are our infrastructure, government buildings and roads falling apart? and
- Why, most importantly, is the gap between the rich and poor still widening?
These are all legitimate questions and the UDM has been advocating for an Economic Indaba to be hosted to find solutions to these fundamental challenges.
The UDM wants all stakeholders, especially the youth, to participate in such an Indaba, for it is the youth that will inherit this mess. It is therefore the youth of today, who should claim their space and devise the solutions of tomorrow.
WE CAN COMPLAIN FOREVER, BUT WHAT ARE WE DOING?
It is a fact that many things are wrong, or they could be better, in South Africa. We could, however, stand here for hours-and-hours complaining, whinging and whining about our lot and how unfair things are.
I am not saying we should not complain, of course we should, because South Africans have a contract with their Government called the Constitution. Just as we citizens are accountable for our actions, so our government must be held accountable.
We will keep making noise; speaking our minds and making our feelings known to those who lead us. But, we must draw the line somewhere in the sand and say: “You know what; I am going to make this work! I, as a young South African, take charge of my destiny.”
DO WHAT MR HOLOMISA?
Be practical, get issue orientated. Do not wait for the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to fight your battles, for they will not.
Their track record speaks volumes. NYDA will rather spend hundreds and thousands of Rands on party supplies and, this week, they did not even pitch for their meeting with Members of Parliament. Are these people, who pretend to be youth leaders, fit represent you?
For those of you who are graduates from, technikons and universities, it is high time that you make the effort to swell ranks of decision-makers in Government.
Become servants of your communities and peers, by making yourselves available as councillors, Members of Legislatures and/or Parliament.
Don’t stay on the sidelines and be mere spectators. The current crop of leaders in the ruling party is only interested in one thing, using the remainder of their terms to get rich at your expense.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket and wait for the older generation, of which I am part, to make decisions for you. You need to be in the thick of things, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty by tilling the soil of your own prosperous futures.
TAKE WHAT IS GOOD FROM THE PAST
Young people, you have reached a crossroads, much the same (in some respects) as the youth of 1976 faced themselves. Not only are there too many South Africans who are marginalised by the government of the day, but they are so very desperate for Government’s attention that they resort to violent civil disobedience.
As you stand here today, you must ensure that you are at the vanguard to demand transformation of the economy.
In 1976, the Soweto youth stood up for themselves and conveyed their unhappiness loud and clear, the tragedy that followed was not of their making. Their goal was noble and good; they wanted to show a government that did not care, that it should listen to the young people of South Africa.
Do not sit around for another eighteen years, before taking a stand, because if you do, we might have this very same conversation in 2031 when I am stuck in an old age home.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
This is the message I want you to leave with today. Stand up, make your voices heard, claim your space and if you don’t like what the ruling party is doing, vote with your feet.
Don’t wait for the powers that be to change the current situation. They have not done so in eighteen years, and they will take another eighteen years if you allow them to abuse you and you will be left to explain to your .