Parliament, 18 June 2020 – The Presiding Officers, led by Speaker of the National Assembly Ms Thandi Modise and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Mr Amos Masondo, on 16th June 2020 joined the nation in commemorating Youth Day.
Youth month remains etched in our memories as a stark reminder of resilience and courage by young people in the evolution of the political landscape in our country. It was 44-years ago when young people took to the streets demanding their voices be heard by rejecting an unjust education system aimed at restricting their intellectual development.
“Young people are the future of the country and their voices are critical to the developmental trajectory of our nation. They must be at the forefront of economic growth and development of the country. This includes being central and actively involved in the government’s service delivery initiatives and activities. It is more prudent now for maximum youth participation during the fight of the invisible enemy known as Covid-19 as it is threatening the livelihood of the county’s citizens and the youth”, said Speaker Modise and Chairperson Masondo.
“Today’s youth struggle is characterised by the triple challenges of high unemployment, inequality and poverty. The ravaging virus, on the other hand, is affecting the country’s economy and is making the youth more vulnerable to job losses. With the courageous, selfless and resilient character of the current generation of young people, we have no doubt that the challenges our nation faces today will be overcome. On the flipside of the pandemic there are opportunities relating to innovation, creativity and technology that youth will continue to be lead in,” said the Presiding Officers.
According to the government (Department of Health) statistics on Covid-19, data indicates that people aged 21 to 30 and 31 to 40 are the second most infected group of people. Further indications are that 98.2% of confirmed deaths of people in South Africa are between the ages of 30 to 99 years and only 1.8% are 29 years and below. This demonstrates that the youth, who constitute the greatest section of our national population, are not immune to the virus.
“Young people in their nature are inclined to move around, making them vulnerable to the virus and transmitting it further. This period calls upon all young South Africans to lead society in this fight, and exercise all necessary protocols to help preserve the health of our nation, and restore the economy and livelihood for life post-COVID-19,” added the Presiding Officers.
“Despite all the current challenges, we encourage the youth to remain resolute. This pandemic presents endless opportunities for digital growth and positive spin-offs. Young people must grab this opportunity to fully exploit the fourth industrial revolution by developing innovative digital platforms for youth involvement and economic growth.” they further added.
As the national legislative authority, Parliament will work tirelessly and continue to ensure the government of the people under the Constitution by providing a national forum for public consideration of issues, passing legislation and overseeing executive action to ensure that we accelerate change to radically better the quality of life of all South Africans including the youth.
As we commemorate Youth Day, let us engage in deep reflection, dialogue and action to bring about meaningful and long-lasting solutions to challenges facing our young population.
Parliament will hold Youth Parliament at the end of this month and young people from all walks of life will actively engage lawmakers on issues affecting them. The event is aimed at encouraging youth participation in law-making to enable them to influence legislation relevant to their current needs and creating a platform for dialogue between the Youth and parliament.