South Africa Youth Day: Youth must defend economic freedom

Port Elizabeth — Hundreds of youngsters, government officials and politicians rallied in Port Elizabeth's Wolfson Stadium Saturday to pay tribute to the youth as South Africa marks the 36th anniversary of the 1976 June 16 student uprising.

It was that historic day of 1976 that ushered in a new path of struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa as thousands of black students left class to protest the imposition of Afrikaans in black schools.

Speaking to a crowd of about 5000 people, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane acknowledged that while government had probably made great strides to address challenges facing the youth, more young people still needed to access economic opportunities.

"Young people need improved access to quality education and skills in order to meaningfully participate in the economy," Chabane said.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans will, through its military skills development programme, recruit over 6 500 young people this year with the figure expected to double in the next two years, said Chabane.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Chief Executive Officer Stephen Ngobeni said the generation of 1976 faced a "different enemy".

"Their agenda was a different agenda from ours theirs was a fight for political freedom, ours is a fight for economic freedom, and however their challenge and ours needs to be tackled with the same vigour and energy.

"The youth of today want an assurance that opportunities will be there for them and that they can realise their .full potential, young people are tired of rhetoric," said Ngobeni

"Ours like the 1976 detachment is a struggle for policy shift," said the league's spokesperson Magdalene Moonsamy in a statement.

"In the main [is] the demand for fast-tracking the return of the land to the indigenous people of this country without compensation and the nationalisation of the mines of South Africa."

She said it was the youth league's task to ensure it never fails the generations to come.

The league called on all young people to commemorate June 2012 "with the fighting spirit of the youth of 1976."


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