House Chairperson, hon Deputy Speaker, Ministers, Deputy Ministers present today, hon members of this august House and guests in the gallery, allow me to greet you all. I am proud to have been given this opportunity to address this House on a subject close to my heart as a former youth league member, namely the role of the youth in building consciousness and patriotism in order to espouse solidarity and revolutionary commitment.
Hence, I make so bold as to state that I am the product of a revolutionary movement that has moulded me to such a degree that today I can stand at the podium in this august House. [Applause.]
For the youth of today, it is not enough to shout from the sidelines and be content with shouting the loudest. The answer lies in being involved in resolving the problems of the people. This is the best school, which not only defines the place and role of the youth, but a school where self- discipline, solidarity with other oppressed people and revolutionary consciousness is forged.
The power of the youth in nation-building is like a double-edged sword, which can swing to either the right or the left, depending on the intent of the person swinging the sword. Thus, even the youth, in its impatience, must still be disciplined and guarded. [Applause.]
Youth power is a recognised force in the world and therefore all development and education programmes should focus on the youth, particularly young women, in developing countries. No government worth its salt can ignore the plight of the youth.
I am proud that our own government dedicates a paragraph to the place and role of the youth and talks of the Youth Lens, the lens that cascades to all aspects affecting the youth, such as health, productive rights, education, employment and their role in the economy, amongst others.
The power of youth can therefore be utilised either as a constructive or a destructive force by any nation. But for the youth to be relevant, it must actively participate in the constructive process of engaging all citizens in building social cohesion, economic prosperity and political stability in an inclusive and democratic way. [Applause.]
Fellow lawmakers, Youth Month has rightly become synonymous with the 16 June 1976 Uprising, when a young group of learners took to the streets in defiance against racist laws being shoved down their throats through the school curriculum.
Our country will always be deeply indebted to the generation of 1976. As a product of the youth movement, I have come to cherish the daring and bravery of the generation of 1976, who were not only content with protests, but dared to join the ranks of our revolutionary army, uMkhonto weSizwe. [Applause.]
They are the generation that took up the cudgels of the founding heroes of the youth league. These include heroes such as Duma Nokwe, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Anton Lambede, Albertina Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and Henry Makgothi, to name but a few, who found the path along which generations to come will move South Africa forward.
As the 1944 generation showed us, it takes the best of the best to be real revolutionaries. Only true patriots who are revolutionary-conscious will serve as catalysts for change and provide remedies or solutions to the problems that they have studied.
Youth aspirations need to be championed with vigour and facts. It would be of no use if in our advocacy we reduce our aspirations to sound bites. The youth should not cling to ideas that sound revolutionary, but should produce novel ideas that reflect realities and are capable of being sold for the betterment of their own living conditions. [Applause.]
Perhaps the youth of today should take a leaf from the tenacity of people such as O R Tambo, Duma Nokwe, Onkgopotse Tiro and Steve Biko who, at the height of colonialism and apartheid, valued education and achieved higher performance levels in difficult subjects. [Applause.] These were revolutionary intellectuals, not because they wore overalls and berets, but because of their deeds. [Laughter.]
The logo of the ANC Youth League, produced by young MK artists in exile, fascinates me. It states: Fight, produce, and learn. This to me was a far- sighted invention in the camps of MK. It is relevant to this date - the youth must learn and learn in order for our country to develop; it must produce and produce in order for our country to industrialise; and fight and fight all vestiges of backwardness, disease and ignorance in order for our country to advance to higher levels.
If we effectively do these things, the youth will continue to produce great lawyers like Duma Nokwe, great mathematicians and musicians like O R Tambo. And these heroes were not just content with their school books, they also fought to change the world and rid the country of apartheid. Despite their academic prowess, as true patriots they studied the nation's problems with vigour.
Young people in our era need to raise their hands and be counted. In the post-apartheid South Africa there is no reason not to be patriotic. Avenues to imbue consciousness are plenty. Youth from all creeds need to be visible and combat moral disintegration amongst Africans by upholding high ethical standards. That is what revolutionary commitment to the future of this magnificent country implies. [Applause.]
Since the advent of democracy, many young people have struggled to develop an identity that is South African rather than one that is geographically, politically, ethnically or racially defined. The National Youth Development Agency, NYDA, must promote the values of good citizenship and patriotism that assist young people to develop a positive identity and connectedness.
It should engage a cross-section of young people - the unemployed, students and the disabled - that are from a variety of cultural, religious and educational backgrounds. The NYDA should therefore seek to expand opportunities for all young people who wish to serve. The National Development Plan, NDP, dictates the necessity to strengthen youth service programmes as it is through such programmes that young people can forge unity.
In his address to the youth on Youth Day, hon Minister Nathi Mthethwa said:
The NDP 2030 alludes to the fact that the youth bear the brunt of unemployment.
The plan identifies the need for economic growth and jobs, education and skills as well as youth development. This can also be realised through the support of initiatives such as the Youth Enrichment Programme as part of youth development in arts and culture.
The programme will create jobs for young people through the skills they will acquire for the duration of the project. The Department of Arts and Culture has supported youth skills development in the North West, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. This year the project will be rolled out in Mpumalanga and the Western Cape. [Applause.]
This was also emphasised in President Zuma's state of the nation address, wherein he mentioned the need to implement a youth accord - labelled by the hon Van Damme as crumbs for the youth. Well, such a label could not be more misplaced; crumbs are what the DA government gives the young people of the Western Cape. [Applause.]
She conveniently ignores the Ministry of Higher Education and Training's direct intervention to tackle what has become a hidden chronic problem, the lack of facilities and skills in rural communities. The R10 million skills development grant by the Department of Higher Education and Training in memory of Anene Booysen is such an initiative. This has skilled 700 learners in the rural town of Bredasdorp in various fields, making our youth more employable.
Hon Van Damme is a Johnny-come-lately in the world of activism and politics in general, so she would have missed this. [Interjections.] More importantly, this blatant lack of intimate knowledge shows that only revolutionaries really equip themselves with facts and undertake proper analysis. Those are only found in the ANC. [Time expired.] [Applause.]