Youth Month and Beyond, The Baton Is In Our Hands, and Our Role As Change Agents in a Democratic State

By: Lebogang Victor Ditsebe

South Africa annually celebrates its historic June 16 June to commemorate sacrifices the 1976 generation made orchestrating an uprising in Soweto which spread like wildfire.

The uprising profoundly brought the government of the day to its knees through mass mobilisation, which led to a victorious change in the country’s socio-political landscape in South Africa. These protests triggered the impulses of young people’s belief that a new narrative can be painted and a brighter future can be orchestrated by holding the state accountable for being marginalized, neglected and for gross human rights violations.

Such a glorious victory the 1976 generation anchored in hopes that change was needed, and that change was necessary, but overlooking to present tense post-apartheid South Africa – questions are being raised about the current government’s legitimacy to solve crucial issues ranging from youth unemployment, a debilitating energy crisis and gross negligence of service delivery, for instance, the recent cholera outbreak across the country.

And as such, questions are being asked by young people in a country whose living conditions are appalling, without proper housing, millions in communities across the nation living below the bread line, more so with darkness attributed by South African government’s negligence lacking oversight to ensure Eskom remains fully functional – far worse plummeting hundreds of people to struggle with high food prices and the vulnerability of being unable to access the labour market to fend for their families and selves.

For us young people in South Africa, we need to question ourselves is this the South Africa we want, or is this the South Africa where we will tolerate mal-administration, and mismanagement of public funds and a further deterioration of youth unemployment, or optimistically 2024 can be our 1994?

According to Tikkun Services, recent statistics have shown youth unemployment in South Africa stands at a staggering 39.9%, sentimentality young people aged 15-24 and 25-34 are excluded from the labour market.

Thus increasing an inconceivable state of affairs in our land meanwhile public officials and members of parliament are rarely affected by scorching winter winds and rarely affected by food insecurity – with members of parliament receiving free basic services and homestead upgrades for their parliamentary homes, in effect deepening the country’s inequalities of those who have and those who have not.

It would be irresponsible of us, as the current post-1994 generation to allow the historic gains of the 1976 generation to lay in waste, unattended. Therefore, this leads to a fervent call to action for all South Africans from walks of life to register to vote, to vote responsibly in full view of gross human rights violations of a lack of decent service delivery, unemployment and increasing gender-based violence and crime – which is caused by a collapsed South African Police Services.

Our call to action is brewed by the blood, sweat and tears of the 1967 generation who have gone before us and have paid their sacrifices for us to live free, and for us to now have the power in our hands to register to vote – to unashamedly vote for change, for this is our battle cry for a better and brighter South Africa for all.

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About the author:

Lebogang Victor Ditsebe is a member of the Writers Hub, from Kimberley Northern Cape. 2018 ACTIVATOR who believes young people are custodians of democracy.

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