HON. MTHOKOZISI NXUMALO MP
ON THE OCCASION OF THE SPECIAL SITTING OF YOUTH PARLIAMENT
Youth Power – Growing South Africa Together In A Time Of Covid-19
Parliament, Cape Town: 26 June 2020
The IFP Youth Brigade commemorates the youth who sacrificed their lives and safety during the Soweto uprising 1976. They acted fearlessly in pursuit of the values of human dignity, the fight for equality and the right to quality education under a brutal and inhumane regime.
This year, unlike the years before, we are faced with hollow celebration as the world finds itself in the middle of a pandemic due to Covid-19.
Indeed, even without the pandemic, there would be little to celebrate for South Africa’s young people. The statistics are readily available to back this claim.
Young people are now more active in informal employment – which means that Covid-19 has hit our demographic the hardest.
We can all agree that we must prioritise opportunities for young people when looking to rebuild the economy.
Government agencies such as the Youth Employment Service, NYDA and others – have to get to work.
If we are to speak truth to power on the topic of this Youth Parliament Debate today – which I quote:
“Youth Power- “Growing South Africa Together In A Time Of Covid-19”: –
Let is not beat around the bush here and sugarcoat the harshest of realities millions of our young people face every single day – not just during this global pandemic.
We cannot “grow South Africa together” :
- When our society remains deeply unequal and when the poor rural black child cannot access the same opportunities as his or her urban contemporary.
We cannot “grow South Africa together”:
- When young people are stuck without access to the internet, computers, or technical gadgets
- When our youth are challenged by failing SOEs which cannot provide reliable power connections
- When government does not create an enabling and conducive environment for a young start-up business to flourish.
We cannot “grow South Africa together”
When millions of our young people do not have the same opportunities or the same resources to access the online portals which may be available to help us.
Speaker, the youth can only be powerful, if they are alive.
What do we do with educated corpses?
I say this, because unfortunately, the Department of Basic Education could not predict how difficult it would be to guarantee the safety of both learners and educators.
Just yesterday, the IFP wrote to the Office of the Speaker – to consider tabling an Urgent Debate of National Importance on the issue of the reopening of schools and the phasing-in of grades during this pandemic.
We simply cannot afford to run a parallel education system in our already deeply entrenched unfair, unequal and unempowered society.
To ease the hardship of the journey and the challenges faced by the black rural school child is what we must fight for. Otherwise, why are we here?
Furthermore, Honourbale Members,
We cannot grow this country together during this pandemic:
- When the poorest and most vulnerable among us are not protected by the laws we make or taken care of.
- We can’t grow this country together – when our young women and children are being brutally killed and murdered, tortured in their homes and in their relationships.
Only when we stand up for:
- Those who continue to remain marginalized, or disenfranchised economically; and
- Those who continue to face discrimination; or
- Those who are denied access to justice; and
Those who do not have access to basics such as water and proper sanitation –
It is only when we tackle those deep-rooted issues that can we start to put the building blocks together to grow our country.
Fundamentally, our attitude must change, because we know our power as young people.
We the youth of South Africa in 2020, can only honour the youth of ’76 when we do more and achieve greater milestones than what they were able to.
Speaker in conclusion,
I say to all young people of our country, that through the principles of ‘self-help and self-reliance’ we can lift ourselves up out of poverty and unemployment.
If we act with the spirit of ubuntu/botho – we can achieve the goals of re-building our country and rewriting the narrative of our youth. We must help each other.
Therefore, it is possible – Yes, we can build a better South Africa during this time of Covid-19 – Only on condition that those who are currently in positions of power stop talking and start doing more or face being removed.
I thank you.