Address in the Debate: International Youth Month by UDM Deputy-President (2 June 2010)


Mr Speaker and honourable Members

As I said in this House yesterday, the surest measure of a successful state is the health and happiness of its children.

As we celebrate Youth Month it is most appropriate that we will also be showcasing our country to the world in a month-long festival of soccer. The skill and youthful exuberance of soccer is a demonstration of the energy and vibrancy of the youth.

We need to ask ourselves deep and far-reaching questions about how we approach the question of the youth in all policy matters. The suggestion for instance that national service might be helpful to the youth, has merit, but it is incorrect to claim that national service would give the youth the discipline to refrain from participating and leading community protests over service delivery.

We need to recognise that the youth have a legitimate claim to challenging a status quo that leaves vast numbers of them loitering the streets in search of meaningful employment.

We also need to understand that the entire democratic project loses its legitimacy if it does not provide the next generation with hope.

The South African youth are coming into their adulthood in a time of freedom. They are born into a time when they can look upon the moral victory of democracy over tyranny. They are on the cusp of taking custody of the legacy of such giants as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Few generations can claim to have been born into a time of such opportunity – it is our duty as the previous generation to help them nurture and grow this country.

The youth grasp their place in history much better than many of us realise. Their frustration at being locked out of the economic and social life of society stems from the realisation that there is much they can and must achieve.

During this youth month we should collectively focus our attention on unlocking and throwing wide the doors of opportunity, so that the energy of the youth can carry our nation to a better and more prosperous future.

I thank you.