Statement by Deputy Minister Malusi Gigaba at the Mandeni Youth Development Conference in Richards Bay
9 Jun 2010
On Friday, 11 June 2010, at 16h00, starts our date with destiny. From that moment onward, the history of our country as well as its future shall never be the same again.
The 2010 we were always talking about, for which we had waited with such anticipation and hope and prepared with meticulous determination is finally here.
We are feeling it, it is here!
There is no turning back now, the sceptics are wallowing in their own pessimism, unable to come to terms with the fact that all their negative dreams and scepticism have now been petered out.
As we gather here at this conference, the eyes of the people of the world are gazed upon South Africa, determined to see how we shall host the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
For a change, all attention is on Africa, and for good reasons.
What makes 11 June 2010 such a spectacular day is that it shall take place five days before our people and youth commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising on 16 June 1976.
At the same time, on 11 June 1963, the police raided Lilliesleaf farm and arrested various members of the Military High Command of Umkhonto WeSizwe, who included Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Ahmed Kathrada, Dennis Goldberg, and others, who together with President Nelson Mandela eventually came to be known as the Rivonia Trialists. On 11 June 1964, they were finally found guilty and on 12 June, the following day, they were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Indeed, 34 years have passed since that fateful day on 16 June 1976, on a cold winter Wednesday, when the youth of Soweto stood up to the apartheid tyrants and through their action¸ challenged tyranny itself, proving a lie to the notion that apartheid was invincible and our people were too sub-human to even dare to stand up for their right to be free.
On that day, a momentous confrontation took place between the masses of our people, represented by their youth, and the regime of white supremacy, represented by its armed forces, armed to teeth with the most modern weapons designed to inflict death. That day shall forever stand out as a momentous day when the youth shook the citadels of power and changed forever the future of South Africa.
In challenging the regime in the manner they did, the youth knew very well that there was a high price to pay, but more importantly, a glorious future to fight for!
Again and again, history would call on the youth to carry on their young shoulders the difficult burdens of the struggle, and on each occasion the South African youth rose to the occasion and were found equal to the task.
What started as a class boycott by form two students of Orlando High School ended as a monumental confrontation between the youth and the tyrannical regime when the regime betrayed its cowardice and mortal fear for the masses of the people organised as one person demanding freedom. When their parents left for work that Wednesday morning, little did they know that their children had been anointed by history to make an indelible mark on the struggle for freedom.
Following the 1976 uprising, in which scores of youth died and others were wounded, the international community demanded with one voice that apartheid should be abolished and should be abolished now!
The youth of 1976 soon learned that their demand for the regime to drop Afrikaans as a medium of instruction was intricately linked to the demand for an equality education for all, as well as the demand for freedom for all black people.
It was clear to them that the country had no possibility to make progress in all social spheres - political, economic, social, and cultural because white minority rule had become an impediment on all development. Accordingly, the defeat of apartheid was a necessary precondition for everything that favoured and was in the interests both of the country and the overwhelming majority of our people.
However, for this to be achieved, for the democratic revolution to succeed, the oppressed had to be prepared to sacrifice in an unprecedented manner, including by making the supreme sacrifice itself, because the ruling group and the social forces it represented were firmly opposed to and feared change.
This situation demanded that the oppressed people as a whole understood that they themselves and nobody else had to carry out the difficult demands of the struggle, in their own interests and for future generations.
The youth added enormously to that mass struggle, which followed close on the heels of the workers struggles of the early 1970’s. Following the 1976 uprising, scores of youth left the country to join the exiled ranks of our fighting forces, to receive military training and become armed combatants for the freedom struggle.
It was from this generation that Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu came. He was among the first members of this 1976 generation that had left the country to receive military training to become a people’s soldier that returned on a special mission 1977 to eventually be hanged and to die at the hands of the apartheid murderers whose hands were already dripping with the blood of our people!
The 1976 uprising laid the basis for the intensification of the struggle in the eighties, that heroic decade which came to be known as the decade of freedom, during which even though the regime had become the most violent since 1948, it could not match our people’s militancy and determination to be free.
The revolutionary youth of 1976 handed its baton to the militant youth of the eighties which carried the instruction to make South Africa ungovernable, and render its institutions of power unworkable. It was because of their militancy, courage, heroism and discipline that the late ANC President, OR Tambo, called the youth of the eighties the young lions of the struggle.
Among us here today, there is nobody who doubts the revolutionary capacity of the youth. The question we must answer at this conference is what we shall do to ensure that the youth continue to act as a mass force for progressive, for the fundamental reconstruction and development of our country!
On Friday, 11 June 2010, a new date shall be entered into the annals of our history as a nation, and it shall claim its pride of place alongside such heroic days as March 21, June 16, August 9, and others; days on which our people made history that impacted on an international level. Other than the infrastructure that shall remain behind as physical landmarks of what we achieved during this historic occasion, this World Cup has already achieved what few other events in the past have ever succeeded to achieve - national unity behind the national flag, the national anthem and other national symbols.
It shall leave behind an indelible legacy of social cohesion and common dreams of a nation full of ambition and unyielding in its pursuit of a common future. This world cup itself is not the future we want; but an important stepping stone towards it.
The bones of the heroes and heroines of 1976 must be shaking in excitement in their graves, as the world cup returns to the cradle of humanity, the mother-continent, and the country for which they fought so gallantly and died bears on the torch of their fight and hosts the world in fond remembrance of the contribution that the peoples of the world during her darkest days when she still groped in the dark in search of freedom.
Today we have the freedom we wanted.
Yet, the struggle continues.
It is not possible for the new tasks to be accomplished simply by the government acting on its own, the mass involvement of our people, and especially the youth, is a necessary condition for the success of the difficult challenges that lie ahead.
As before, success in this struggle to create a better life for all demands that the youth participate as an organised and conscious force, prepared, if need be, to carry difficult burdens and whatever the struggle demands of them.
The memory of the youth of 1976 and the successive generations of youth who carried forward their torch and baton of struggle continues to live on in our collective memories, commanding us to ensure that newer generations of youth never forget the heroic feats of struggle performed in 1976 as well as noble vision that inspired the martyrs, heroes and heroines of 1976 and the subsequent years - indeed to ensure that the memory of our struggle, its vision and principles may never be diminished..
Our country owes them, and the generations of youth that succeeded them, a permanent debt of gratitude for their sterling contribution to our struggle for freedom.
For many years before and after 1976, the youth acted as a dynamising influence in the struggle, ensuring that their disciplined militancy served at all times to inspire the masses of our people into action against the regime when it thought by imprisoning our leaders, driving others to exile and brutally maiming others, and that by intimidating our people, it had broken the back of the struggle and our people could not rise.
In acting the way they did, the youth acted as part of their people’s struggle, knowing that their interests as young people were an integral part, rather than a parallel, antagonistic or independent part of the struggle.
Accordingly, the story of the heroism of 1976 must be related to all newer generations of youth, like a never-ending relay, so that we never as a people begin to take freedom for granted, as though it was always there or was easily achieved.
We have come a long way to where we are today.
We owe our fragile liberation we hold currently to the young and bold idealism and sacrifices of Hector Peterson, Kgotso Seathlolo, Tsietsi Mashinini and their predecessor generations who taught us, through the force of their example, what it meant to be youth.
These are the generations that came before us, each important and each playing their part in creating a South Africa that is provident and promising in opportunity for the next generation.
I intentionally mentioned the youth of the past and the youth of the future because somewhere between what we conquered and what will still be conquered lies the difficult questions that you must answer today. These questions will be answered by your deeds more than your words.
They will be answered by your accomplishments and struggles and tasks you shall undertake to rid our country of the remaining vestiges of the age-old poverty and under-development which continue to visit violent inhumanity and indignity to the masses of our people in the same manner the apartheid regime did.
The difficult challenges ahead of our youth today demand that, we all put shoulders together to raise their level of competencies in all fields so that they can be better able to discharge their responsibilities today and fulfil their own mission.
It is therefore important that this Municipality should have decided to hold this conference at this time, to answer the difficult questions about what we need to do to develop and empower our youth so that they can have the skills, capabilities and competencies needed for them to lift our nation up.
What do we want our youth to do today?
Of course, we do not want them to repeat the feats of 1976; but we want them to commit new heroic feats of struggle that are relevant to the new conditions and time in which they live. We want them to seize the opportunities of democracy and study, so that they improve their level of education and skills.
We want them to find jobs and to create jobs, to establish cooperatives and develop entrepreneurial capabilities so that the country’s manufacturing sector may grow, and consequently in order that the country’s economy may also grow on a sustainable basis and we thus reduce the numbers of the people dependant on social grants for their livelihood.
We want them to live healthy lifestyles and desist from risky social behaviour, which include unprotected sex as well as alcohol and drugs abuse, to prolong the productive life of the youth so that they can contribute positively to economic growth and development.
As part of living healthy lifestyles, we want them to participate in sport and live positive lives.
We want them to continue to participate in youth organisations and thus to deepen democracy and the popular participation of youth in the democratic processes in our country.
Youth participation must be increased so that they play a decisive role in fighting crime and improve the general health of our people by fighting infectious and communicable diseases.
The point we are making here is that youth development is important for youth mobilisation, and at the same time, youth mobilisation is important for youth development.
Youth mobilisation and youth development are two sides of the same coin that mutually reinforce each other.
Unless the youth themselves are mobilised and agitated consciously to play an active role in the processes of democratic change, their development will remain a pipedream. At the same time, unless the youth are developed, they will lack the motivation to be mobilised. The fact is that the processes of democratic change in our country are still dependant on the popular participation of the masses of our people for them to progress and succeed.
For the youth to do all this, government and the private sector must join hands to develop and empower them.
This, in simple words, will not come cheap.
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) will not solve all the challenges faced by the youth on its own. It is not a panacea to all the problems confronted by the youth. All the levels of government national, provincial and local must work together with the NYDA to do all they can to help uplift the youth.
This is even more important at this time given the high rates of youth unemployment.
This is an urgent matter!
To have so many young and able-bodied women and men economically inactive is simply dangerous and a waste of invaluable national resources.
This matter must be addressed jointly by the government, the private sector and the youth themselves! We owe it to the youth of the past and the future to develop and empower today’s youth.
When the youth of South Africa committed the feats of 1976, they did not know that in 2010, five days before the commemoration of their heroic uprising, South Africa would kick-off an historic world soccer tournament.
But, what they did know for sure was that sometime in future, as a result of their supreme sacrifice, South Africa would be free and occupy pride of place as an equal among the nations of the world.
Because of what they did and why they did it, our nation continues to owe them, as well as the generations of youth before and after them, a permanent debt of gratitude.
June 11 is a direct result of their sacrifices.
Future generations will also honour 16 June 1976 as well as 11 June 2010!
I thank you.
Cell: 082 886 6708
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
9 June 2010
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
9 Jun 2010
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