On behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party Founder and President Emeritus, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, our President, Velenkosini Hlabisa, and the entire IFP family, in particularly the IFP Youth Brigade – we join the voices of millions South Africans in commemorating the 16 June 1976 youth uprising.
As we look back and reflect, appreciate and act on the hard-won gains made by those who came before us, and by those who sacrificed their lives and livelihoods so that we can enjoy political freedom we see today; we learn that through courage and with steely determination anything we apply ourselves to, is possible.
Youth Month this year marks the 44th anniversary of the student uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide. The significance of this day profoundly changed the nature of our country’s struggle for freedom and democracy.
The sacrifices of the courageous young people who fought for equal education will forever be etched in our rich, diverse and painful memories of our history.
However, today, as we mark this month in honour of the Youth, young people continue to grapple with socio-economic challenges, which ultimately impact on their ability to access opportunities in our economy.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has truly revealed the deep and rising inequalities that exist in our society. Those who have, have far too much in abundance, and those who do not have anything, cannot see beyond their next meal.
If anything, we need to address inequality before it addresses us. What I mean by this is that if we allow the economic differences to continue to divide us, South Africa will not look the same, nor will it be a liveable country, if we ignore inequality.
The painful reality is that the struggles of our youth today cannot and will not be swept under a rug. The agency of our young people in mobilising themselves to fight the status quo has been proven over the past 26 years, since the dawn of our democracy. This generation won’t sit idly by and watch as ‘change’ remains a mere slogan.
Young people, rightfully, are rallying for real structural change in our society. Access to opportunities and the opening up of our economy and industries, opportunities for skills development at our educational institutions, social justice, social reform and greater awareness of the future we want to live in is what sets our fight apart from the past generation.
My message to young people today, based on the wisdom of our Elders and the original fighters for our freedom, is that we cannot achieve economic freedom when we break down the very institutions we require the next generation to access.
We cannot achieve this economic freedom when violence becomes our solution or the only way we attract attention to our plight. Violence never wins, it never has and it never will.
Furthermore, the IFP Youth Brigade condemns the violence against women and children. Violence is crippling our country and sexual violence, in particular, is one of the most heinous and repulsive acts, which has devastating effects on the lives of young women, children, families and communities.
The IFP Youth Brigade calls on all sectors of society to work together to root out the scourge of violence against women and children.
Let’s stand united in championing our struggles through constructive means and by occupying the seats at every table and at every organisational body that has the ability to affect our chances of a better life.
The change and real reform we seek can only happen when we are a united voice as the youth.
We must set aside our differences in order to ensure that we strengthen our voice and collectively apply our minds to bringing solutions to the table.
The struggle continues for us, as we pursue the ideals and efforts to make a true reality of economic justice for all South Africans.
Mthokozisi Nxumalo MP
IFP Youth Brigade National Chairperson
072 819 5153