The following speech was delivered by DA Youth Leader, Luyolo Mphithi, at the Party’s Youth Day commemoration at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Fellow South Africans,
Youth Day is no longer just a day of remembrance.
Today symbolises the blood gushing struggles of young people who fell fighting hard to realise a better South Africa, and the continued struggles we face as young people of today.
Heroes of the youth struggle such as Hector Pieterson lived in an era where the youth were willing to pay the ultimate price in the struggle for freedom and quality education.
These young heroes and heroines had one main objective, to realise a better South Africa for us – the youth of today. However, their sacrifices will ultimately be in vein if millions of young South Africans remain locked in the shackles of unemployment and joblessness.
Young people, their struggle is now ours.
Today we still find ourselves fighting for our dignity, livelihood and survival. This is not what the likes of Tsietsi Mashinini, Hastings Ndlovu, Khotso Seatlholo and of course, the young Hector Pieterson fought for.
May all their courageous souls rest in peace.
These young souls in our history fought because our today rested in their courage. It is now our duty to ensure that their innocent blood does not continue to gush down over waste lands.
We need to take on their courage and continue to fight for a better life, which among other things, means quality education and jobs.
At 52.8%, South Africa has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. It is evident that we are being forced into a dark corner of injustice. Our lives are currently overflowing with hopelessness and our dignity is being stripped from our backs.
We must refuse to continue being subjected into a life of poverty and shame. A better life for us means young people are employed.
Government, both local and national, must ensure that job creation and youth empowerment is at the forefront of their agenda. Like in DA-led governments, a clear plan to rescue this country and create much needed jobs are needed.
Where the DA governs, job creation takes centre stage.
Our governments continue to ensure that:
- Young people are equipped with the necessary entrepreneurial skills to build businesses and employ more young people.
- Youth cafés are providing the youth with much needed career guidance, access to skills and personal development.
- Economic and social development opportunities are also provided to fight unemployment.
The DA has and continues to fight tirelessly where we are in opposition to put forward alternative plans to alleviate joblessness and poverty.
We are also set to table our “Jobs Bill” in Parliament which seeks to create an enabling environment for accelerated job creation in South Africa because the youth of this country deserve better. We deserve jobs.
Young people, for jobs to be created and dignity to be realised, we must continue to take the front row until we are free.
Our duty is to take this responsibility, own it and see this dream realised together.
Today I take courage from the words of Tat’ Nelson Mandela when he said, “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
I call upon each and every one of you to heed these words, continue the courage of Hector Pieterson and let your greatness blossom.
Let their blood not gush out in vain.
Let their hopes for this country manifest with our dignity restored.
And let the greatness of South Africa blossom.
Phambili ngemisebenzi phambili.
Rise young people rise.