Youth Parliament 2017: Address by Hon. Deputy Speaker J.T. Beukes

“The Youth of Today are the Leaders of Tomorrow”, these are the profound words of Tata Nelson Mandela.

 

Honourable Members

Delegates to the 2017 youth parliament

Secretary to the Legislature

Government Officials

Stakeholders from the youth sector

Members of the Media

The Northern Cape Community

 

Our country has come far in achieving the benefits that our youth enjoy today – that did not come easy.

The youth of 1976 fought for political freedom which dawned in 1994 after a long protracted struggle by our people. The youth of 2017 is fighting for freedom from poverty, inequality and unemployment.

The legacy of poverty, unemployment and inequality are still great challenges facing our youth. Hence our government has a plan in place to effectively deal with these challenges facing our young people.

Provincially, the Youth Development Strategy is to be aggressively implemented in all departments, state entities and municipalities in order to address amongst other things youth unemployment, accessibility to funding for higher education, proper co-ordination of bursaries in different departments and the establishment of youth units in all departments with proper budget allocations to implement programmes and activities for the empowerment of young people. Be aware of these initiatives and gain access to them, they are there to help you as a young person with a purpose.

We encourage the youth to use all the opportunities afforded to them by our government to acquire the skills to become successful entrepreneurs, industrialists, farmers and professionals in various fields, and achieve the economic freedom that your forebears were unable to achieve. The development of the youth is central to the transformation of this country and the enhancement of the lives of all South Africans.

Although embracing the many initiatives by government, the youth need to come out of a mindset where young people wait for the government to do things for them. Youth liberate yourselves from your circumstances and take up opportunities that are available and build a better future.

Mostly importantly, arm yourself with knowledge. Education is the most powerful weapon towards economic freedom. 

The national and provincial youth parliament events have become an annual occurrence. As a young person seated here today, choose to take away with you the valuable information that is at your disposal. To our Public Participation officials, let us find innovative ways to give our youth feedback on key resolutions taken through these platforms. And you as a young person seeking vital information, never be in doubt to approach the Legislature, we are your representatives and are elected to serve you through our mandate of lawmaking, oversight and effective public participation.

I am sure we have all seen the recent spade in violence against young women, though your social media, and other news sources. We cannot shy away from this scourge; this requires serious and sustained attention from all of us, especially you as our future leaders. The youth must fight this scourge. Opt to be a better person who cherishes the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters. Live by the ethos of Tata Oliver Tambo, as we celebrate 100 years of the life and times of this great struggle hero this year. You as a young man, choose to be a better man in society. As a young woman, make the choice to be a confident woman who aspires for greater heights in your community. Be the difference that our province and country needs.

 

As we conclude the youth month commemorations, a pertinent question that young people need to ask is what lessons can this generation of young people learn from the 1976 generation? I will name a few;

  • Passion for education and training: The youth of 1976 were very passionate about their education hence they decided to take it to the streets when their future was compromised by the compulsory introduction of Afrikaans. We expect the youth of today to show the same passion as the youth of 1976.
  • Discipline: The youth of 1976 did not burn schools and libraries but all the symbols associated with the apartheid regime like beer halls. Precisely because they knew that there is a life after the struggle and they will still need these facilities to improve their quality of life.
  • Bravery, courage and fearlessness: Although today young people face different challenges than the generation of 1976, they could apply the same spirit of bravery, courage and fearlessness in dealing with them. They should be brave in dealing with the abuse of alcohol and drugs which are tearing families apart and destroying the lives of our young people; teenage pregnancy, poverty, unemployment and inequality, and HIV/AIDS. The high HIV infection rate between ages of 16 and 25 mainly, is alarming, young people make the right choices.

Choose to pay a fitting tribute to the 1976 generation by being responsible in your actions and grabbing all the opportunities that the 1976 generation made possible for you.

Rebuild and Reshape your Future.

I Thank You