National

Opposition leaders come out in criticism of ANC on Youth Day

Sapa

The IFP and Freedom Front Plus have marked their youth day events with speeches criticising the state of the country and its leading party.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo)

The future of South Africa is in crisis and is far from secure, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said at a Youth Day event in KwaMsane on Saturday.

“South Africa grapples with entrenchment problems and many of our people are suffering,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Dondotha sports grounds in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

“But those who suffer by far the most are our youth.”

He said while the unemployment rate in South Africa is 25%, unemployment among young people stood at 49%.

“While many young people want to work, only half of them can find a job,” he said.

“A university education is expensive and does not hold the promise of work. You are told you need experience to get a job, but you can’t get experience unless you work.”

He said government’s Youth Wage subsidy had been delayed by the African National Congress’s alliance partner.

Freedom denied
“Buying property and owning a house is an impossible dream,” said Buthelezi.

“Debt is rising, while the cost of living keeps going up. HIV and Aids are an ever-present concern. Personal safety is uncertain. Stress is high. Alcohol and drugs are a temptation. There is not enough to do, not enough to eat, not enough to inspire hope.”

Buthelezi said his generation grew up in a country where political freedom was denied, movement was restricted, dignity was trampled and education was poor.

“Yet somehow I feel that the battle you are facing today as young people in South Africa is incomparable. After all, you live in a country that is politically free and a world that is moving forward.

“You are continually told that you are a free generation. But you are not truly free to work when there are no jobs to be found, or truly free to go anywhere when you can’t afford transport, or truly free to learn when the education system is failing,” he said.

Freedom just a front
The ANC did not learn any lessons from the past, particularly from the 1976 youth uprising, the Freedom Front Plus (FFPlus) leader Pieter Mulder said at his parties Youth Day celebrations.

He was referring to the new Language Act, which he claims forces learners to study English.

“Just like in 1976, it [the Act] is drawing increasing resistance because all the schools have for a long time been opened up to everybody,” said Mulder in a statement.

“The ANC continues to conveniently forget that the majority of mother tongue Afrikaans speakers are not white.”

Mulder made the comment at a meeting in Centurion.

The 1976 Soweto uprising was a series of high school student-led protests.

Learners from various schools in Soweto protested in the streets against the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium in schools. Around 20 000 students took part in the protest, and 176 people were killed.

Mulder said the FFPlus welcomed the new Act but condemned “the ANC’s renewed pressure, especially in Gauteng [as]Afrikaans schools have to be anglicised.”

“Learners from Soweto had various grievances in 1976 but chose to use Afrikaans as [a] hook on which to hang the protest.”

He said it was important that the “good and bad” from South Africa’s history be represented in a balanced manner.—Sapa.

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