Parliament of South Africa

06/16/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/16/2019 14:50

Parliament Presiding Officers' Statement on Youth Day

'As we mark this day of immense historical significance, let us engage in deep reflections, dialogue and action to bring about meaningful and long-lasting solutions to challenges facing our youth population…' - Presiding Officers of Parliament.

Parliament, Sunday 16 June 2019 - Parliament's Presiding Officers, led by Speaker of the National Assembly Ms Thandi Modise and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Mr Amos Masondo, join the nation in commemorating Youth Day and the saluting young people of our nation.

It has been 43 years since the courageous and brave battle waged by the youth generation of 1976, which shook the evil system of apartheid and redefined the history of youth struggles.

Their resolve and defiance intensified the journey towards the attainment of a constitutional democracy, based on values of human dignity, equality, human rights and freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Significantly, this year's commemoration of Youth Day coincides with a momentous milestone in our nation's history as we celebrate 25 years of freedom. Furthermore, this youth month takes place during the year that marks the 40th anniversary of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS), founded in 1979 to intensify youth mobilisation in the wake of the watershed June 16 events.

The great sacrifices of many generations of young people, indelibly engraved in the annals of our liberation struggle history, continue to serve as a daily reminder that freedom was not free. It was a perilous and often calamitous road characterised by immense sacrifice, hardship and bloodshed.

The need to speed up the realization of a better life for young people, by continuing to deepen national forum for public consideration of issues, passing transformative legislation and overseeing executive action, has never been so urgent. The increase of youth representation in the 6th Parliament to 11% is thus a necessary injection of required energy and new ideas towards the attainment of true social justice, wealth redistribution and robust advancement of youth agenda.

As we mark Youth Month, South Africans are urged to work together to eliminate all manner of social ills and general challenges troubling mostly our youth population. These include substance abuse, crime, peer pressures and frustrating lack of opportunities.

The scourge of violence in our schools and the growing feelings of depression, hopelessness and sadness amongst particularly young people, which often lead to suicides, can only be defeated through fierce interventions and unity of purpose amongst all of us. Safety at schools is one of the National Development Plan's objectives to ensure that by 2030 people living in South Africa are safe at home, at school, at work, and that we all enjoy an active community life without fear.

As the Presiding Officers of parliament, we will work tirelessly to successfully curb violence in our schools and communities by utilizing the relevant structures and legislation at our disposal.

The new Parliament dawns with it new optimism and confidence that better conditions for young people from all walks of life are more possible and realizable than ever before.

As we mark this day of immense historical significance, let us engage in deep reflection, dialogue and action to bring about meaningful and long-lasting solutions to challenges facing our youth population.