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16 JUNE 2009 Programme director, Members of Executive Council here present, Executive Mayors present, MP’s and MPL’s Traditional leaders, Councilors, Limpopo Youth Commission Chairperson and other Commissioners, South African Youth Council, Leadership of Youth formations in the Province, Veterans of the 1976 youth movement, Senior Management of Univen Young people of Limpopo, Comrades and Friends


Theme: “Celebrating a vibrant youth voice” Two days ago, South Africa witnessed the opening of the FIFA 2009 Confederations Cup for the first time on our soil. Even though Bafana Bafana could not score in the opening game, we are thrilled that South Africa showed its hosting abilities and passed the first test as a footballing nation, at least by not conceding a goal in the first match. We thank our boys for this and praise Coach Joel Santana for staying the course under difficult circumstances. We are very encouraged by the excitement that the Confederation cup has brought to our country since last Sunday. We are looking forward to next year when we shall host the mother of all tournaments-2010 Soccer World Cup at Peter Mokaba sports complex. We urge Africa and South Africans in particular to continue rallying behind our national team Bafana Bafana and Egypt in order to give hope and courage to the players when they face their competitors in the next encounters. Programme director We are gathered here at the University of Venda - one of the bastions in our fight against apartheid education, to celebrate the 16th of June which is our youth day. Today


marks the 33rd anniversary of National Youth Day, since the heroic events of June 16 1976 in Soweto and in many other parts of our country. This is a commemoration of the epoch that marked a turning point in the history of our country. Today’s event epitomizes the resilience and centrality of young people in our struggle against oppression. Of all the sectors we count in the liberation of our country, the youth represents by far the biggest category of those who paid the highest sacrifices. It is a fact that the youth formed the majority of those who were recruited in the armed struggle; they were amongst many who were jailed and are counted amongst the majority who were maimed and killed by death squads. Therefore, there can be no better day which illuminates the courage and bravery of South African youth in their struggle against apartheid as June 16 does. None of us should ever forget the built up events which led young people to defy death on that fateful winter day of June 16 1976. The event of this day served as a culmination of major events in the struggle of our people, which began as early as the 16th centuries. In remembering June 16th we can never forget other historic events which built up to this day such as the anti-colonial wars of the 16th and 18th centuries; the

defiance campaigns of 1952, the adoption of the Freedom charter in 1955, the women’s march in 1956, the anti-pass demonstration in Sharpeville in 1960, the banning of political organizations in 1961 and the Durban strikes in 1973. All of these events and many others were critical in giving the youth courage to fight the enemy until it was eventually defeated on April 27 1994. This clarifies the point that June 16th was not just about schoolchildren refusing to be taught in Afrikaans. It had more to do with the defiance of a cruel system which did not allow people to live decently as human beings in the country of their birth. On this day we remember the battles that where fought and won in the streets of townships, villages and factory floors of this country. We also remember the battles and struggles that were fought and won on the grounds of this very university and at Turfloop. The youth who carried the torch of the struggle in the 80’s and 90’s were no doubt inspired by the words of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu who declared in 1979, that: “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight."

Taking meaning from Mahlangu’s words and the courage he demonstrated in the face of death, it is quite obvious that we are talking here of a generation of young people who were resolute in their determination to fight a system they believed was totally inhuman. It is during moments like this that our nation should recall with fondness, the bravery of such daring youth of the seventies. We must also remember the contribution made by roaring young lions of the 80’s who founded the South African Youth Congress (SAYCO) - which later became the ANC Youth League under the leadership of Peter Mokaba. We count amongst them, comrades such as Ephraim Mogale, France Mohlala, Norman Mashabane, Bachana Mokoena, Shadrack Mafokoane, Josephine Moshobane, Maxwell Mulaudzi, Dzivhuluwani “Che” Muregu and many others. Under the slogan “freedom or death, victory is certain” these roaring young lions did everything in their powers to keep the fires burning.


Their vibrancy and determination to stand against odds is what made this country to be what it is today. This is why we should be proud as young people of the efforts we have made to bring our country to where it is today, and for making June 16 a recognized official holiday. We should derive satisfaction from the fact that their perspectives are today accommodated in government and many have even found expression in the Constitution of the land and in other laws. Programme director However, unlike the youth of the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s, today’s youth are faced with completely different challenges. Even though they live in a democracy, the majority of today’s youth are unemployed, they live in abject poverty, and many are vulnerable to unplanned teenage pregnancies and the possibility of contracting HIV and AIDS. Whilst this is a fact, we should be grateful that our democracy has afforded many young people opportunities to play an important role in society. In the last 15 years, government has created many opportunities for young people to venture into business and other professional careers. The numbers of young people in Universities and


colleges has also increased over the years owing to government’s support through bursaries and scholarships. Unlike in the past, we have an increasing number of youth in government, and in politics, as well as in sports; and in the arts and culture industries. We have also seen many young people participating in efforts to strengthen our democracy. Despite odds, we have seen many young people going to the polls on April 22nd this year, to vote for a government of their choice. This they did despite media speculations that many of them were no longer interested in politics and matters relating to the future of the country. As some of you may know, the IEC registered 6 million young people who voted this year compared to just 4 million in 2004. This is a clear and bold indication that our young people are matured and not apathetic. There can be no doubt that the recent huge turn out in the elections by young people has added colour to our politics and revolutionized our national discourse. On behalf of government and the people of our province, we want to thank all young people who voted for the first time in the general elections, by ensuring that government is truly founded on the will of the people.


We now call on you to participate in decision-making in government and in the development of your communities. Government has put in place sound initiatives that are intended to bring the excluded youth back into the social and economic mainstream - especially young women, the disabled, unemployed, and youth at risk. The new National Youth Service presents an opportunity for young people to be at the cutting edge of youth development. Today as we speak President Jacob Zuma is launching the new National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to replace the Youth Commission and Umsobomvu Youth Fund. In the province, the process of repealing the Limpopo Youth Commission Act and the establishment of NYDA shall be finalised in the next few months. The launch of the NYDA is a victory for youth development. The National Youth Development Agency will enhance the coordination of youth development, and will continue working to unite young people to build a united and better country for all. Once fully established, it is expected that the National Youth Development Agency will do the following amongst others:


It will link up unemployed young graduates with economic opportunities and strengthen efforts to expand the National Youth Service Programme; It will support young entrepreneurs; The NYDA will expand opportunities for skills development targeting the youth and ensuring better access to decent work opportunities; It will strengthen the efforts of young people and direct them at poverty alleviation, rural development and crime prevention. Plans are underway to recruit and deploy thousands of unemployed youths in the fight against crime in communities. The NYDA will also work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup contributes to the creation of decent work opportunities for the youth, leaving a proud legacy for the youth and communities. This being Youth Month, we urge all young people to volunteer in the fight against crime by restoring peace in our neighbourhoods. Our programmes and interventions can be accelerated if all of us can work together with government and civil society partners.



Long live the spirit of June 16!

I thank you


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