Parliament, Wednesday 16 June 2021 – 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.

The historic event of 16 June 1976 still echoes in our minds as it remains immortalised in South Africa. Young people of South Africa rejected the brutal apartheid system by mobilising themselves and took to the streets demanding their voices to be heard. The march was against an unjust education system aimed at undermining and restricting their intellectual development. The cruel apartheid system retaliated with the violent scourge, killing unarmed young people. The event became a defining moment in our history and should be a stark reminder to all that democracy was achieved through bloodshed and sacrifice.

There is also no doubt that young people in South Africa today face a myriad of challenges, including the high rate of unemployment accompanied by various forms of social ills, poverty and the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Labour Force Survey indicates an increased number of unemployed people by 8 000 to 7,2 million, meaning the official unemployment rate among the youth (18 -34 years) has been at 46.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2021. The rate of unemployed university graduates stands at 9.3%.

This scenario has caused the Sixth Parliament to prioritise skills development through its constitutional mandate to oversee executive action. Follow up work on issues happens at the committee level, also known as engine rooms and oral question and answer session of the government ministers. Further, through its constitutional mandate of providing a national forum for public consideration of issues, the hosting of the youth parliament helps young people bring to the fore their challenges. In return, Parliament can gauge the pulse of the youth and activate a programme of action.

Skills development and the Fourth Industrial Revolution were amongst issues sharply raised in the 2020 youth parliament. Young people advocated for the overhaul of the education system and the strengthening of the TVET colleges. It will help mainstream them to be ‘job creators rather than ‘job seeker’. Further, young people called for widened opportunities to learn skills and optimise the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As such, to ensure that issues receive the necessary attention, one of the mechanisms employed by Parliament to establish progress on work done by the ministers is through ministerial briefing sessions. In August, the National Council of Provinces will have a Ministerial Briefing Session on Youth Poverty and Unemployment themed: “Interventions to address youth unemployment and poverty”.

“Through our constitutional mandate and power, Parliament commits to addressing issues affecting young people. Our collective efforts will help build a better quality of life for all young people free from all social ills”, said the Presiding Officers.

As we mark Youth Day, Parliament urges South Africans to work for hand in glove with the government and help curb the spread of COVID-19. As the country moves to alert level-3 of infections, we encourage everyone to adhere to all health safety protocols.

“We all owe it to the 1976 young liberators to ensure that we build the South Africa of our dreams free from the pandemic and social ills. We shall overcome this traumatic period because we are a nation of hope. We want young people to be at the helm, driving the economic recovery post the pandemic. It is possible as the young people are ready to exploit all opportunities provided by the pandemic through the 4th Industrial revolution”, added the Presiding Officers.

Parliament salutes all young people.

Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo – 082 370 6930