Address at The Youth Day Rally, Witbank,
16th June 2003
Premier of Mpumalanga, Ndaweni Mahlangu,
Our traditional leaders,
MP's, MEC's, MPL's and Councillors,
Leaders of our youth and young South Africans,
People of Witbank and Mpumalanga,
Members of the media,
Fellow South Africans:
Today, June 16, 2003, which is our Youth Day, marks
the 27th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising of 1976.
Accordingly, we remember and celebrate the colossal
and heroic deeds of the youth of our country in our
struggle for liberation.
On this great day in our national life, I am honoured
to extend to the youth of our country that continues
to be the pride of our nation, the best wishes of our
government and people, and our pledge that we will do
everything possible to ensure a better future for the
children and youth of our country and our continent.
Because of the gallantry and sacrifices of our youth,
today we live as a free people, with the possibility
to determine our destiny.
All of us will remember that in paying homage to the
heroic struggles of the youth and people, we dedicated
the year 2002 to the campaign of Vuk'uzenzele and Letsema,
so that our people could volunteer and participate in
the reconstruction and development of our country.
Through this campaign, we summoned the masses of our
people and youth to continue to demonstrate the courage
of volunteerism and sacrifice in the face of the challenges
that we face - poverty and underdevelopment - which
they had shown through a long period of protracted struggle.
As they have done throughout history, the youth of
our country responded to this call without any hesitation.
I am happy to see that once more, during this 27th
Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising, the youth of our
country have rallied behind the call for "Youth
Action to Seize the Opportunities of Democracy"
- pushing back the frontiers of poverty under the banner
of diverse organisations led by the National Youth Commission,
Umsobomvu Youth Fund and the South African Youth Council,
which is a broad based youth civil society organisation
- comprised of diverse member organisations, political,
faith-based, and NGOs servicing youth.
Last year we noted some of the challenges that confront
our youth, including:
Youth business support;
The need for information provisioning;
Youth volunteerism; and,
Participation in community youth service development
As we stand here to commemorate the 27th Anniversary
of the Soweto Uprising, we are pleased with the progress
made by our government in most of these areas. Among
others, these great strides came about as a result of
cooperation between the National Youth Commission, Umsobomvu
Youth Fund and the South African Youth Council and the
emerging consensus in various societal institutions,
that youth development must be central to the overall
I am very pleased that earlier this month, the Growth
and Development Summit also identified the challenge
of youth development and empowerment as one of the central
matters on which our country must focus.
On this day, we must reconfirm that we have a common
task to implement what we agreed at this Summit with
regard to the emancipation of our youth from poverty,
unemployment and social marginalisation.
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
As part of this, to respond to the challenge of youth
empowerment and skills development, government has this
year, stated that two youth development programmes shall
be considered during the course of 2003. These are the
National Youth Service Programme (NYSP) and the Integrated
Sustainable Youth Economic Participation Programme.
Already, Cabinet has adopted a policy framework document
for the scaling up of the NYSP. Work is commencing in
this regard, to put into place an implementation plan
which will ensure the launch of the first NYSP programmes
by the end of the year.
The NYSP will play a catalytic role in enhancing the
skills of our youth whilst they are involved in community
development initiatives. The NYSP will complement existing
programmes, such as learnerships, social development
health, and extended public works programmes.
In addition, Government has announced that it will,
by year 2004, recruit 50 000 youth for the learnership
YOUTH BUSINESS SUPPORT
We all know that young people have no access to finance
and business development support. Accordingly, we have
to work very hard to encourage financial institutions
to implement innovative measures when dealing with our
youth, so that young people have the possibility to
fully participate in the economy of our country.
We thank and salute the financial institutions that
have already responded to this call. The government
will work with them to guarantee that together we ensure
the success of the youth development programmes they
Further, we must ensure that youth development becomes
a critical component of the Black Economic Empowerment
(BEE) strategy. Our youth must seize the opportunities
arising out of government Land Reform programme, including
those that will emerge from the establishment of co-operatives
and the availability of micro-credit for development
Our responsibility as the youth is to seize the opportunities
of our democracy. We belief that for youth development
and empowerment to be sustainable, young people must
be conscious and active participants in the reconstruction
and development of our country.
Today, a number of opportunities are being created,
and I would like to urge the youth of our country to
take advantage of this situation.
In this regard, we should together ensure that we implement
Youth ICT Leanerships. Earlier this year, our country
held a National Youth Indaba on Information Society
to launch the youth ICT programme in line with the Presidential
National Commission on Information Society and Development,
as well as the vision of the Vijina (youth) Digital
Opportunities Task Force.
This entails access to procurement opportunities, promotion
of black economic empowerment in agriculture, contribution
towards Land Reform and rural poverty eradication and
support to young aspirant farmers so that they can play
a meaningful role in agricultural development and economic
As part of the Land Reform programme we have seen the
Land Bank availing land to young people for commercial
farming in the Northern Cape and North-West Provinces.
I am told that the NYC and Land Bank will soon launch
similar projects in the Free State and the Western Cape.
As part of the public works community-based programme,
government has availed resources to help young people
to participate in the programme to rehabilitate public
buildings for the benefit of people with disabilities.
Further, through access to economic opportunities presented
by the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, young people will be assisted
to have access to finance, business opportunities and
requisite education and training opportunities to start
and sustain their own businesses.
During this month of June, we have seen another key
partner, the Road Accident Fund, recruiting more than
90 young people to be part of their service programme.
Situating youth development at the centre of our national
development programme remains critical. This we will
do as we accelerate economic growth and development,
including black economic empowerment, expand social
grants, engage the health challenges facing our people,
and fight crime and corruption.
We will continue to expand and improve service delivery
through, among others, intensifying the Batho Pele campaign
and recruiting community development workers, and continuing
to advance women's participation, youth development
and the empowerment of people with disabilities.
Together, we must continue to forge a broad youth front
for the reconstruction and development, placing at the
centre the active participation of people as their own
liberators from the yoke of social deprivation and poverty.
The implementation of these tasks requires that the
youth, themselves, must play a vitally important role
and occupy a special and forward place in the national
offensive against poverty
Education remains the key to success and therefore
plays a critical role in the advancement and empowerment
of the youth, as well as the cultural development of
Again, we call on young people to demonstrate seriousness
in pursuing their studies, thus reducing the high rates
of school drop-outs and academic exclusions.
Government has and will continue to provide free food
to millions of children in schools. We will continue
to support historically disadvantaged students through
National Student Finance Aid Scheme.
We will continue with other programmes to discourage
our youth from involvement in crime and unacceptable
social behaviour, inspired by the ideal of the RDP of
We will continue the struggle for the development of
our youth as healthy human beings, free of AIDS and
other avoidable illnesses.
We will continue to work to provide the facilities
and possibilities for our youth to participate in sport,
including representing our country in international
In this regard, we convey our best wishes to the thousands
participating in the Comrades' Marathon. The difficult
race the athletes are running reminds all of us that
we need the dedication and determination of the long-distance
runners to achieve the national goal of the reconstruction
and development of our country.
On this occasion, we must also salute and convey our
support to the youth of our country who are participating
as Bafana Bafana in the competition leading to the African
Soccer Cup, the cricketers who are going to England,
the players preparing for the World Rugby tournament,
the athletes who will represent us in the All Africa
Games, the netball team preparing to go to the world
games, those who will play in the President's Golf Cup,
and the children currently playing in the gold tournament
in the United States.
An important task that we continue to face has to do
with strengthening the youth development institutions
- the South African Youth Council, Umsobomvu Youth Fund
and the National Youth Commission.
The following tasks have been identified in this regard:
The need to build the capacity of South African Youth
Council to enable it to discharge its responsibilities
and to raise its profile in society and, especially,
among the youth through ensuring that it implements
its programmes, and rally the entire society behind
the youth development agenda;
Strengthen the capacity of the National Youth Commission,
review its mandate, make sure that the Commission becomes
more effective, as well as popularise it among the youth;
Strengthen the capacity of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund,
raise its profile among the youth and ensure easier
access both to information regarding the Fund, including
Continue to strengthen the unity of this troika to
ensure that its enhanced cooperation does lead to an
integrated, sustainable and accelerated youth development
perspective and programme;
Encourage a relationship and cooperation between these
three organizations and the youth development community-based
organisations and NGOs, properly to integrate the public
and private youth development programmes and resources;
Continue to mobilise political and material resources
and other support for these institutions in government,
labour, business, community constituencies, and most
especially among the youth.
The total freedom of the youth of our country cannot
be achieved until all the children of Africa are free
from poverty and underdevelopment. South African youth
must continue with the process they initiated during
the African Youth Dialogue held in the year 2002, of
ensuring that youth development is fully incorporated
Contact between the South African and other youth of
the continent is vital so as to participate in the process
of African integration and development, as represented
by the African Union and its development programme,
NEPAD. Young people must be part of the work for the
regeneration of Africa and South African youth must
work with other young people on the continent to achieve
On this occasion, we should also pay homage to the
fallen heroes and heroines who since 1976, played their
part to ensure that today, we enjoy the freedom whose
10th anniversary we will celebrate next year.
They include Tsietsi Mashinini, Hector Peterson, Solomon
Mahlangu, Peter Mokaba, Parks Mankahlana, Zibuse Zuma,
Vusi Mzimela, Mary Mxadana, Eph Mogale, Mzingisi Skweyiya,
Sphiwe Zuma, Jan Madisha and those workers who died
in tragic bus accident whilst on their way to the May
Day rally in the Free State.
We are confident that, more than ever before, the youth
of today are better placed to advance their aspirations
and dreams. We are confident that this current generation
of young people will inculcate the values that will
make all of us to stand tall and proud among the peoples
of the world.
Next year, for the third time, our people will participate
in democratic elections to choose our national and provincial
governments. Between now and then, all of us, including
the youth, must work very hard to ensure that the millions
of our young people register to vote and actually vote
on Election Day.
We must ensure that the youth play their role in terms
of determining the future of our country by participating
in the elections. In this way, they will play an important
role in the construction of the kind of South Africa
they will inherit.
On their shoulders will rest the obligation to bring
to reality the non-racial, non-sexist, peaceful and
prosperous society for which the youth of 1976 sacrificed
their lives. That goal can only be achieved is we continue
today to put in place the foundation and building blocks
that will take us to our destination characterised by
the provision of a better life for all.
Our country remains indebted to our youth for the sacrifices
that they have made throughout our years of struggle
and since. Despite the immense challenges and difficulties
of the moment, the future is bright.
The tide has turned! Because of this, let us continue
to construct a people's contract for a better tomorrow.
Together, let us march forward with more vigour and
determination to succeed in pushing back the frontiers
of poverty and creating more opportunities for our youth.
THROUGH OUR ACTIONS TO RECONSTRUCT AND DEVELOP OUR
COUNTRY, MAKING CERTAIN THAT THE YOUTH OF OUR COUNTRY
HAVE A BETTER FUTURE, WE MUST LIVE UP TO THE MEMORY
OF JUNE 16!
Amandla ngawethu! Matla ke a rona! Matimba a hina!