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Unisa online - Africa through the eyes of its youth

From left: Prof Somadoda Fikeni (IARS), Leaga Lesufi (Pan African Congress Youth), Charl Oberholzer (AfriForum Youth), Prof Lesiba Tefo (IARS Head of Department), Mathew Cuthbeth (Democratic Alliance Youth), Victor Mokoena (African National Congress Youth League), Duke Madikizela (South African Student Congress) and Prof Phalandwa Mulaudzi (Associate Professor IARS)

In commemoration of Youth Month, the Institute for African Renaissance Studies (IARS) hosted the South African Youth Indaba on 6 June 2012. Different political party youth leaders debated the theme Youth and Economic Empowerment in Africa.

Speakers included Sabelo Mhlungu (Unisa National Student Representative Council); Victor Mokoena (African National Congress Youth League); Mathew Cuthbeth (Democratic Alliance Youth); Charl Oberholzer (AfriForum Youth); Leaga Lesufi (Pan African Congress Youth), and Duke Madikizela (South African Student Congress). Prof Somadoda Fikeni was the respondent.

Prof Fikeni said that such indabas create a space for dialogue which is desperately needed for South Africans, especially for thought leaders to engage and understand each other and to identify concrete solutions for South African problems.

The youth leaders did not disappoint at all. After the welcoming address by Prof Lesiba Tefo, IARS Head of Department, the panel discussions got underway. All the youth leaders agreed that all young people need education and employment. Duke Madikizela said his organisation is more interested in transformation of education and society in general. “Sasco rejects the idea of the youth wage subsidy,” said Madikizela.

Mathew Cuthbeth said that there is a need to introduce more grass root level programmes to assist people to get more jobs.

Victor Mokoena said that for young people to be empowered, government needs to nationalise the mines and all the strategic sectors of the economy. He said that we need to be able to refine our resources and empower the youth to do these refining jobs. He added that government also needs to expropriate lands.

The audience members were also given a chance to question the youth leaders. The ANCYL was asked if South Africa is ready to nationalise. “We are not going to chase away anybody when we nationalise. Those who manage mines will continue to manage; we just need a share in their lucrative profits,” responded Victor Mokoena.

The Afri-Forum was asked who rightfully owns the land in Africa. They answered by saying that their forefathers are the rightful owners of the land they live in. “There is no historian who can come and claim that we do not belong in the land we live; our Afrikaans makes us the Africans we are,” said Charl Oberholzer.

In conclusion, Leaga Lesufi said that we need to define where we are in terms of the stages of social development and the ANCYL said that service delivery protests are spearheaded by vulnerable youth that are unemployed and have no skills.

Prof Fikeni applauded the level of debate between the youth leaders. “There are critical issues that are being raised by the youth, but there is still a lot of work to be done to refine their thoughts.”

The youth leaders’ hungry minds indicates that we are far from hearing the last words on youth and economic empowerment in Africa.

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