Dacre Haddon was the main speaker at a Youth Day-event in Fort Beaufort where the DA held a soccer tournament. Below is an extract of his speech:
Thirty-six years ago in 1976 youths revolted against the apartheid government to oppose the imposition of Afrikaans as a language in schools. The significance was that supposedly young, inarticulate and inexperienced members of our society — our youth stood up to be counted!
The youth of that time were brave individuals fighting for their youth rights under a disgraceful, oppressive bullying apartheid government.
What was supposed to have happened from that event was a vibrant powerful youth in South Africa today.
The youth today in South Africa have been betrayed by government. The morale of youth today is probably worse than under apartheid!
The youth of 1976 lit the torch for you to stand up and be counted.
Most youth are unemployed.
Many of you struggle on a daily basis to survive.
The blight of HIV/AIDS is causing an increase in child-headed households.
A shocking education system is letting you down from obtaining decent schooling.
The moral fibre of our youth has deteriorated to such an extent that thousands of young girls prostitute themselves to fall pregnant in order to obtain a child-grant to live.
Government funding for youth programmes this province has been cut by R13,8 million for this financial year.
The highest youth unemployment in the country is in this province.
This provincial government pays lip service to youth and uses Youth Day celebrations as an excuse for a party.
Firstly the solution lies with each of you as young individuals. The Constitution protects your rights so stand up for your rights.
Secondly, decide that from today you are going to empower yourself and your friends by doing the following:
- Petition the Legislature that youth rights are not being recognised and more effort needs to be put in to increase job opportunities and youth funding in the province.
- Look at yourself and decide you will from today be the moral torch for yourself and to others from the way you behave.
- Make sure your actions and behaviour influences others to change and become disciplined.
- Empower yourself by reading and attending school regularly.
- Take a lead in your church and community with youth programmes. If your church has no such programme start one.
- Live in such a way that people and the community look up to you.
- Be strong-be tough with politicians from all parties. Push us to account to you. Fight for your rights.
- Use the Provincial Legislature more to ensure that Youth issues and problems are receiving the funding and political attention it deserves.
- Demand to address the portfolio committee on Youth Affairs.
- Demand that the politicians from Bhisho meet with you regularly and embark with you on action programmes.
- Demand that proper mechanisms are in place for opportunities for you to get a sustainable job.
- Demand that the proposed Youth wage subsidy introduced by the DA years ago and is now at the focus of government policy is implemented.
- In the Western Cape the DA implemented a wage subsidy in which 2 500 young people have benefited since 2009. Ask Bhisho: why can’t this wage subsidy happen here like in the Western Cape?
To our young ladies and gentlemen we say: be tough, be resilient and don’t back down.
There is hope: you must sustain that hope and create the opportunities and mobilise to become a coherent, principled, disciplined youth ambassador to your immediate community.
We wish you luck — you have our support and please, please: shake up the government at Bhisho to address your concerns regularly.