We are always reminded of the bravery of the young people of 1976, who took to the streets of South Africa to fight a system of injustice, prejudice, inequality, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and suppression. They fought for a regime change and laws that would favour the majority and, in turn, all the people of South Africa.
With freedom in 1994, there was a beam of light – it was a new day, a new dispensation, and the dreams and aspirations of all South Africans, especially the young, were awoken. Little did we know that our democratic society would breed greed, have poor leadership who lacked accountability and that the aspirations of the youth of ‘76 would be cast aside.
The United Democratic Movement (UDM) Youth Vanguard believes that we find ourselves barely existing in a society of crumbs, whilst the rich, connected elite and the politically powerful enjoy themselves at the expense of the poor masses. Twenty-six years into democracy and South Africa ranks as one of the most unequal societies in the world, with the formerly oppressed still having no opportunities and living in squalor.
Our mostly geriatric cabinet has no clue how to deal with young people or their plight. We have for years said that it is necessary to have young people in all kinds of decision-making positions. It is, however, of no use to appoint a token young person as a minister who does not even deal with youth matters.
We have an uneven society where a staggering 29% of its youth block is unemployed. To compound matters, youth unemployment must have increased dramatically because of the
Covid-19 lockdown and the end is not in sight.
Another thing the pandemic has proven, is our country’s lack of innovation and research tools. South Africa will need an economic repositioning, which focuses on youth and skills development. We no longer want to hear lip service; we want rigorous action.
The UDM Youth Vanguard also believes that our education system needs a major overhaul as it mostly generates dropouts and perpetual jobseekers. There must be greater focus on building young people to be job-creators – skilling them to, for instance, be innovators and artisans, work the land and produce food and start small businesses that can grow. Such a transformed education system must speak to today’s needs considering the current industrial revolution.
As we remember the youth of ’76, we call on all young South Africans to reflect and ask themselves what their role in society is and whether they think they have been playing that role. It begins with a right and responsibility to vote and to make the right choice i.e. to not vote based on sentiment.
Our message to young South African’s is this: vote with your minds and realise that betting on the same horse for the past 26 years has gotten us nowhere; the UDM Youth Vanguard believes that the United Democratic Movement is deserving of your vote in the next elections.
We wish everyone a well in celebrating Youth Month 2020.
Mr Yongama Zigebe