The Dialogue of June 16 Youth Versus The Youth of Today By Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Venue: Hall 10, June 16 Youth Expo Nasrec Exhibition Centre, Soweto, Johannes burg

18 June 2016

Program Director
Executive Mayor, Cllr Parks Tau
MECs
Councilors
Community Leaders
Leaders of Student and Youth formations
Various Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Comrades and Friends

The country has just commemorated the 16 June youth uprising this past Thursday. It is commemorated in honour of all the youth that stood up against the Bantu education, but also to recognise the contribution that they have made in the struggle for freedom and democracy in our country.

The government in recognition of the role the youth has played in the struggle to bring about democracy as well as its continuing role in the reconstruction, social and economic development of the country since 1994, declared June as Youth Month.

It is therefore no mistake that on the 1st of June every year, recognized globally as World Children's Day, the government joined the international community in celebrating the day to highlight the plight of many children in the country and around the world and committed to creating a conducive environment whereby children will grow free from poverty, abuse and made to access good health care, protection and education.  

When I came here to open the EXPO on the 10th June 2016, I reminded the youth parliament which I addressed of the instructive statement made by the late Oliver Reginald Tambo, former President General of the African National Congress. A leader who very early on during his days of struggle for our liberation, warned those with whom he served that:

“A nation that doesn’t take care of its youth has no future, and doesn’t deserve one.”

It is in keeping with the legacy of this visionary leader, and true to our commitment to this cause, that government has identified June as the month in which we honour, celebrate and focus on the challenges facing our youth and their potential in building a better South Africa, a better Africa, and a better world.  It is because of that legacy, and the heeding of Tambo’s prophetic warning, that we are here today.

I want to thank the Gauteng Provincial government and the City of Johannesburg for the initiative to put together this June 16 EXPO in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Students Uprisings. This Expo is indeed a significant, laudable and befitting tribute to the young lions of June 1976.

The dialogue of today, wherein I am in particular joined by those who took part in the activities of June 16 1976 as part of the panel, becomes even more significant. It offers an opportunity to you as students and youth to hear from the horses' mouth what took place 40 years ago. Hopefully this dialogue will make you understand the past and therefore be able to deal with your current social, political and economic challenges better and thus prepare you for the future role of leading the country towards a better life for all.

Programme director, this EXPO constitutes an integral part of the various initiatives of the government coordinated at the national level by the Inter-Ministerial Committee of Cabinet, to remember and honour the supreme sacrifices that were made by thousands of students of Soweto and throughout the other parts of the country, who stood up against the might and brutality of the Apartheid system. The events of June 1976, are recognized as representing a turning point in the struggle that ushered our 22 years of freedom and democracy we have seen in our country.

The EXPO is a reminder to all us, particularly the youth, that the freedom that we now enjoy was not free. It came as a result of many sacrifices, including the supreme sacrifice of shattered and lost lives. It must therefore be cherished, be nurtured and be defended.

Fourty years ago about 20 000 young leaners, from schools across the length and breadth of Soweto, took to the streets to protest against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium instruction and the inferior Bantu Education system. They wanted to express, their wish to receive qualitative education that equips them to be productive citizens who can make a contribution in building their country. They were however, met with brutality by the Apartheid police and security forces that left no less than 600 innocent children dead and hundreds more injured, with scores jailed or exiled, some disappeared to this day.

Thousands of young men and women including some of the panelists who are here with me today also had to leave their beloved country for exile to get military training and return to fight for our freedom. They included heroes of the struggle such as Tsietsi Mashinini, Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, Barney Molokoane, and Gordon Dikebu, the Lion of Chiawelo. Many were hanged after capture or survived the death row, or killed in heroic combat.

From June 1976 the youth continuously surged on with the armed liberation struggle, roaring mass actions, underground work and international isolation of the Apartheid regime until it was defeated and freedom and democracy triumphed on 27th April 1994 and the late President Nelson Mandela ascended to power as the first black President of the country.

Acknowledging the important role that the youth played and continues to play Utat' úMadiba said on June 16 1995 to the youth...

 "YOU WERE IN THE FOREFRONT OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE. TODAY YOU MUST BE IN THE FOREFRONT OF RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT."

This EXPO's intention to accelerate efforts to transform young people's lives by showcasing numerous youth development projects and opportunities such as leanerships, bursaries and internships in various government departments and municipalities, is a true testament of the response to that clarion call to the youth to reconstruct and develop our country and it could not have come at a better time.

In support to this EXPO we have the South African National Defence Force to show case the contributions of the SANDF in upholding the country’s constitution by protecting the sovereignty of our country as well as protecting all the 50 million people of our country. Most critical, the SANDF is here to expose the career opportunities available within the South African National Defence Force. These include amongst others, opportunities to be pilots, engineers, doctors, lawyers, marine biologists and of course being professional soldiers who could serve in the various arms of service such as the Army, Airforce, the Navy and the South African Military Health Service as well as Defence Intelligence. In fact think of any career out there....you will find it within the South African National DEFENCE Force! 

Furthermore various government departments offer opportunities to the youth to open up businesses, get good education and therefore take their destiny into their own hands.
Let me hasten to say that the time has come that the young people of South Africa should not only look at being employed after completion of the studies, but to become entrepreneurs and employers, own the economy of this country. The future of South Africa is in your hands, young people of our country!

Today, the youth, constitutes about 60 % of the population of South Africa and are the future leaders of our country, yet they constitute two thirds of the estimated 5 million unemployed population. Only half of those who start Grade 1 complete 12. The scourge of substance and drugs abuse, teenage pregnancies, crime and other  social ills continue to deflate the real potential of our young people.
In his speech the president of South Africa JG Zuma made a call that “
With this June 16 EXPO and other activities across the country the government seeks to redress the social ills and economic challenges facing the youth and to set the youth on an accelerated socio-economic developmental path.

Since the advent of democracy the government has been investing billions of Rands to build schools, libraries and other public institutions, to better the lives of the communities especially in rural and vulnerable communities. New Universities have been established both in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.  
Each year we build new schools and refurbish others, to improve the learning environment. Government has built seven hundred and ninety five schools  since 2009, at a cost of 23 billion rand. We have built seventy eight new libraries in addition to three hundred and four that have been upgraded.
These infrastructure investments have to be protected and the youth should take leading role in that regard. The recent burning and vandalisation of schools and violent protests as we witnessed ín Vuwani and universities; as well as violence during various service delivery protests, should be condemned and be uprooted from amongst our society.  

The government has established institutions to give focused attention to youth development such as the National Youth Development Agency and allocated resources and funding to help ensure that our youth are removed from the quagmire of poverty, unemployment and economic exclusion. To date significant progress has been realized as a result.

Government is also increasing funding for education. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding for training at vocational training colleges known as TVET colleges has increased from R318 million in 2010 to R2.3 two billion rand in 2016. The objective is to promote technical education and provide more electricians, welders, plumbers and other artisans for the economy.
The National Development Plan sets out a clear trajectory and vision and programmes for the next 30 years including massive public infrastructure programmes worth over R700 billion (Rands). It has since allocated over one billion Rands to specifically coordinate and take care of empowerment programmes focusing specifically on the youth.  

It is for the youth to take advantage of all these opportunities so that they can transform their lives and that of their families as well as communities for the better.
Of course the complex socio economic challenges facing our youth cannot be resolved by government alone. We therefore call on the private sector and all sectors of society to come to the party and emulate this June 16 EXPO. Together, in memory of those that played their part in bringing us our freedom and democracy let’s all put our shoulders to the wheel.

Program Director...

I address you today very mindful of the fact that in front of me are young people who must be given the tools to improve their lives and positively shape the future of this country. It is a responsibility that all of us, particularly those in leadership,  cannot avoid and should take seriously.  The Department of Defence is determined to place youth at the centre of its plans to create a highly professional, disciplined and technologically advanced Defence force equipped to execute its core constitutional mandate and other assigned tasks.

Last year Parliament approved the Defence Review which is a comprehensive policy blueprint for the Defence force for the next 20 years. The recruitment into the Defence force of young South Africans with great potential is critical to our efforts to have a military that efficiently and effectively serves the needs of the country and its people. We want to expose the work of the Defence force and create awareness of the full range of its activities and its role in society as well as career opportunities that exist in its various components.

The Defence Force also recruits young people through the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) and University Reserve Training Programme (URTP). Suffice to say that the programmes offer opportunities of training and employment in the regular and reserve forces. Those who cannot be absorbed in the military will have the skills and training to compete on the open labor market. All arms of service, the Navy, South African Army, the Air Force and Medical Health Services, are in need of people in disciplines such as engineering, medicine, avionics, nautical sciences, computer science and finance. The list is by no means exhaustive.  We continue to build relationships with schools and tertiary institutions to enable us to identify young people we need to build a Defence force we can all be proud of.
I must say that while there are exciting career opportunities in the Defence force, I must stress that there is a limit to the numbers we can enlist due to acute budgetary constraints. We have, however, arrangements with other government departments in the security cluster such as Correctional Services, Police, State Security and Home Affairs to absorb people trained by us especially young people. The Defence force produces a disciplined leadership cadre imbued with values of selfless service and patriotism.

In recognition of the important role that military veterans played in bringing about the democracy that the country enjoys, in particular those from the 16 June generation the President by proclamation in 2009 established the Department of Military Veterans. The Department of Military Veterans provides a range of benefits to military veterans, whilst their Dependents are covered in education, skills development and counseling. . Other benefits to military veterans (not dependants) incl: Health care; Housing; Honouring and memorialisation as well as burial support. These accrue to the military veteran and not their dependants.

The Department is currently providing education support to 5482 military veterans and their dependents both at basic education and tertiary institutions at approximately R30 mil this financial year, in public institutions and to a limited degree private institutions.

In extending some of the benefits to the dependants of military veterans, (especially education support), who are young people, we hope we can attract young women and men of the caliber of June 16, because if we can emulate their demonstrated patriotism and love for their country, our people can be reassured of safety and peace at all times.

I thank you....


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