The leader of the Congress of the People (COPE)‚ Mosiuoa Lekota‚ has called on the youth to rise and save South Africa from the problems it is facing.
Speaking at the June 16 celebrations in the Roodepan Community Hall in Kimberley in the Northern Cape‚ Lekota said the youth of 1976 had contributed to the creation of a free and democratic South Africa.
“They fought for the ideal and attainment of an inclusive and prosperous economic development and a country underpinned by the values of freedom‚ equality and solidarity,” he said.
“These heroes and heroines of our nation bequeathed to the present generation examples of selfless service to the people.
“We are inspired by the values of honesty‚ loyalty and integrity and the clarity of their political consciousness which rejected narrow self interest or personal greed. Today‚ as dark clouds gather over the nation‚ COPE calls on the youth to rise‚ mobilise and organise to save South Africa‚ like the youth of 1976 did.”
Lekota said the struggle of the 1976 class had been rewarded in 1996 when the government constitutionally recognised all 11 official languages.
While there had been victories‚ there were still many problems facing the youth‚ Lekota said.
“Today‚ the majority of the youth are suffering the brunt of poverty‚ unemployment‚ lack of opportunities and economic exclusion . . . While the present government spends massive amounts on education‚ it hopelessly fails to produce quality education and skills that make it possible for economic development and emancipation of our youth.
“The root cause of this betrayal of the ideals of the 1976 generation can be traced to corruption and bad governance by the ruling elite.”
COPE‚ he said‚ would lead efforts to encourage the youth to pursue a new struggle for quality education that met the demands of the modern economy.
“The sustainability of the nation is dependent on the youth acquiring relevant skills in engineering‚ medicines‚ sciences and ICT‚ among others. These are critical to meet the challenges of the ‘fourth industrial economy’ and to be a global citizen.”
He said the youth must fight the scourge of gender-based violence and abuse against women and children in particular.
“Our society must reject notions of patriarchy and practices that relegate our women as inferior citizens. A nation that fails to appreciate its girl children and women is destined to fail.”