Speech on Youth Day debate: Decisive action to accelerate socio-economic opportunities to transform the lives of the youth
Speech by ACDP MP, Marie Sukers

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

Unemployment and crime robbing our youth of their best years – says ACDP

Jun 13, 2023

“Honorable Chairperson,

Among our greatest assets in this nation is not the minerals in our ground, nor the wealth we hold in our vaults. It is the arrows in our quiver that we can shoot into the future – our youth is the reflection of our hope. In this regard our continent, Africa, and our country, South Africa, are rich in assets indeed.

When we reflect on the struggle for our democracy, the role of the youth, and the ability of leaders to inspire a generation are the key elements worth reflecting on.

Many of us sitting in this house were inspired to achievement, and to walk into purposeful determination to become somebody. To strive towards the dream of a better South Africa like the leaders who came before us. We should ask ourselves… are we doing the same?

One of our Khoi-San leaders, this past weekend, evoked the memory of Ashley Kriel in his submission at the BELA Bill Public Hearings. Ashley Kriel is iconic in memory, but maybe the best hero to describe the potential that is latent in our communities. Youth, like Ashley Kriel, live forever in our memories and in the history of our country – they remain forever young. Forever the symbol of what the struggle for freedom hoped to achieve – a just society.

We are, however, failing miserably to create a just society for all.

And one of the things we do not address enough is how to rehabilitate youth, and how to use restorative justice to rehabilitate young offenders and offer them a way out of gangs. We have little to no interventions that target the young person who gets left behind either through circumstance or poor decision-making.

Our biggest challenge in communities like Bonteheuwel, Athlone, Kimberley, Eldorado Park, Eersterus, and Hillbrow is rising unemployment and crime. Black and Colored youth are more at risk to become targets of crime, or being drawn into crime that may ultimately rob them of their best years.

In South Africa, today, we have over 4.9 million unemployed youth… it is a staggering figure.

Unemployment robs our youth, of their dignity and agency – “An injury to one is and injury to all” this was the mantra we chanted in every protest and march during the eighties. That generation is sitting in this house today, they occupy places of authority in society and are building businesses. Our youth needs of us to revisit the place, at a moral and emotional level, where we were once consumed by the cause for justice and a better South Africa.

It is a place of true moral authority and servant leadership.

Lastly, the ACDP, today, reiterates our call for the implementation of the National Senior Certificate for Adults. We believe that this would provide the opportunity for youth between the ages of 21-35 to re-enter the schooling system, to further their studies, and to become more marketable.”


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