Address to the South African Youth Day Parade, Cape Town – 1997/06/16

Master of Ceremonies,

I bring you greetings from President Mandela who could not be with you today. He asked me to pass his apology to his favourite people – the young people. He said I should tell you that he loves you all. Celebrate and enjoy your day!

Master of Ceremonies,

Today we mark the 21st Anniversary of June 16 and the fourth South African Youth Day.

The uprising of young people in Soweto against Bantu Education on this day in 1976, helped to further defined the South African youth as a distinct and independent formation in the struggle against Apartheid.

For the two decades that followed, that uprising, both in terms of is mass character as well as its impact, served as a point of reference in the conduct of struggle by all anti-Apartheid democratic forces.

The political significance of the day reached beyond the borders of our country and helped to draw the attention of the international community to the plight of you young people.

Today we have many reasons for celebrating with the South African youth.

Of course, the most significant of those victories is the establishment of a national political order in 1994. The youth of South Africa played an indispensable role in that political victory. That development opened the way for a process of social transformation, reconstruction and development at all levels of our society.

One other important victory the young people of our country have scored is the establishment of the National Youth Commission. Today the Commission is celebrating its first Anniversary.

For the past two days, in this very beautiful city of Cape Town, more than 40 national youth organisations were convened by the National Youth Commission for the purpose of working out the national youth policy. This Youth Summit drew representatives from religious, sports, cultural, political, environmental as well as student organisations.

On behalf of the government, I can assure you that we await the birth of a national youth policy with great expectation. It shall be the first time that the government of South Africa is guided in its work by a youth policy which is a product of so wide a consultation.

Today we can certainly look forward to the future with optimism comfortable in the knowledge that now the possibility exists to draw the greatest number of youth into the mainstream of social transformation.

But, certainly, we are already moving ahead in many areas with the aim of empowering young people for the task of developing our country in line with the demands of the period.

The dreams of the 1976 generation to whose memory we dedicate this day, are being realised in the transformation of the education system. The adoption of the South African Schools Act is an important milestone in this direction.

The announcement by the Minister of Education, Dr Sibusiso Bhengu, of the new Curriculum 2005 augurs well for the creation of a better and quality education at school level, and for the future of this country.

The proposal by the Labour Minister on the Skills Development Strategy is a major intervention in this regard as well. Certainly it can be said that our country is moving in the right direction in resource development.

The provision of free medical care to children under the age of six and the food nutrition scheme are clearly some of the indications that our government is prepared to invest in the youth for the good future of the country.

The challenge still remains, however, for more of our young people to take the initiative and engage in community projects in the true spirit of Masakhane and new patriotism. We need to plough back into poor and disadvantaged communities the skills and knowledge we learn at our institutions. All our organisations should make a call to their members to make youth involvement in community work a major part of their programme of action.

The challenge remains to engage in campaigns to fight the spread of AIDS/HIV in our communities. The biggest victims of this killer are young people.

A responsibility which you share with every South African and every sector of society is to join actively in the all-out fight against all forms of crime. Today we are assembled in a city which has made headlines through cases of drug dealing, gang war, child abuse, women rape and serial killings.

You are needed in your community policing forums and anti-crime street committees, and in voluntary community work for your local police stations.

The attainment of the good results in the struggle against crime needs ordinary boys and girls, men and women, citizens who, as individuals and in all their organisational formations, are conscious of their collective responsibility both to their common needs and to their shared destiny.

The South African youth must equally aspire towards economic participation, not simply as job seekers, but also as job creators. Youth organisations should make it their tasks to inquire about the opportunities which arise within and without government initiatives for reconstruction and development. On our side, as the government, we sure will have to improve our capacity to give such information to the public.

Master of Ceremonies,

This is the day of celebration. It is not my day. It is the day of the young people of our country. We must give them enough time to enjoy it.

 

I THANK YOU ALL

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