The Democratic Alliance is hosting a community event at Willow Dam in Uitenhage today (subs: Saturday, 30 June 2012) to celebrate Youth Day. Below is a speech delivered this morning by Pine Pienaar (MPL), Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Metro DA Regional Management Committee.

This month we commemorate the 36th anniversary of the 1976 student uprising that ushered in a new path of struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa. In 1976 thousands of students left class to protest against an unjust regime. The violence that followed brought attention to the injustice of the South African apartheid regime and played an important part in bringing democracy to our country.

Today – 36 years later – the youth are still part of a struggle. This time it’s not a struggle for human rights, racial equality or against the imposition of Afrikaans in black schools. No – today it’s the challenge of rising unemployment and poverty. Indeed, the scourge of youth unemployment is a like a disease that can kill as bad as HIV and AIDS can.

Youngsters that went to school in 1994, the year the ANC took power as ruling party, are 21 years old today. They are adults who have seen through their schooling and first years of adult life in democracy. They were supposed to benefit from what was supposed to be equal opportunities and in a schooling system run by the ANC. Still most black children are no better off than they were in 1967. They might have political freedom, but do they have financial and human freedom or even freedom of movement? Poor people are stuck in one place and have no opportunity to move up in life.

The reality is that the ruling ANC has left us with thousands of mud schools, a destroyed education system, no text books, no proper school administration, no discipline under pupils or even teachers and matric results that would make any descent country cringe.

The DA is a party for all. The DA is a party for opportunity. The DA is a party for excellence. Before a party that stands for these principles take power from the bungling ANC, there will not be an environment for entrepreneurship or an environment of learning to create wealth.

The youth wage subsidy, is a proposal which the DA has been driving for a long time. National Treasury estimates that 423 000 young South Africans would benefit from the implementation of a Youth Wage Subsidy.

178 000 of these jobs will be new jobs (that would not have been created without the subsidy) and 133 000 of these would be sustainable, long-term jobs.

A DA government would increase the funding for the subsidy so that more jobs would be created.

Even if a job does not last beyond the duration of the subsidy, research has shown that someone with work experience is three times more likely to find work than someone without out it — and the subsidy would provide young South Africans with that experience.

What we do need and what the DA can bring to our county is an education system that will boost entrepreneurship and business growth. This will help us fight poverty and to build a truly free South Africa. Economic freedom is real freedom that will bring closure to the process started by the youth movement of 1976. The DA has exciting plans for the youth: plans for education vouchers to offer education to students at any university of college; plans for wage subsidies and plans for experience training in growth and wealth.

Only if we achieve these goals will the young people of our county really be free. But while we have a government that is failing our youth, the misery will continue for sure.

I thank you.