ANC has suffocated the dreams of the youth - John Steenhuisen

DA leader says In today’s SA, 7 out of every 10 young people are unemployed

It is time to do to the ANC in 2024 what Hector Pieterson’s generation did to the government of 1976

16 June 2023

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered today by the DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen during a Youth Day Commemoration event in East London in the Eastern Cape.

My fellow South Africans,

Every year on the 16th of June, we come together to reflect on the contribution made by a generation of young people to our country’s transition to democracy.

On this day, for the past 29 years, we have listened to speeches from elected officials, extolling the virtues of the generation of 1976.

Every year on the 16th of June, we hear ANC politicians claiming the sacrifices of the generation of 1976, as their own.

They claim the bravery of Hector Petersen and Hastings Ndlovu, as their own.

They appropriate the legacy of these brave young South Africans, as their own.

But the truth is that the ANC has betrayed the generation of 1976.

Just like they have betrayed the young people of 2023.

Back in 1976, young South Africans took to the streets because the apartheid government was suffocating their dreams.

They were subjected to an education system that would condemn them to being “hewers of wood and drawers of water.”

They lived under an oppressive State that viewed them not as individuals with unique talents deserving of equal opportunity, but that reduced them to their skin colour.

They were subject to job reservation, a system that restricted them to certain jobs and trapped them in so-called group areas.

It was resistance against these injustices that motivated the generation of 1976 to rise up.

My fellow Democrats,

The time has come for us to ask how different the injustices young people face in 2023 truly are from those they experienced in 1976.

I want to say it loud and clear today: through its disgraceful education system, the ANC of 2023 is condemning the majority of young people in this country to a life of poverty just like the government of 1976 did.

In today’s South Africa, 81% of 10-year-old children cannot read for meaning. And 33 million people live in poverty.

A full 47 years after Hector Pieterson died in the arms of Mbuyisa Makhubo after rising up against an education system that doomed him to a life of poverty, the ANC has again condemned young people to lives as “hewers of wood and drawers of water.”

In today’s South Africa, 7 out of every 10 young people are unemployed.

Over a third of young people with university degrees cannot find work.

This is because the ANC government of 2023 continues to practice job reservation.

They have just given it a new name.

The ANC calls it cadre deployment.

This system reserves certain jobs for ANC cadres.

It prevents anyone who is not a member of the connected ANC elite from being employed in the public sector.

It disregards education, skills and merit, and instead rewards corrupt cadres and cronies above everyone else.

The reason that skilled young people cannot find work in the State, is because those jobs are reserved for ANC cadres.

And the reason that young people cannot find work in the private sector, is because businesses cannot start and grow and create jobs because when service delivery is collapsing wherever the ANC is in power.

And the reason that service delivery collapses wherever the ANC is in power, is because incompetent cadres are advantaged above skilled applicants.

The result is that young people with qualifications, with talent, and with ambition, sit at home unemployed, while the cadres continue to loot.

The ANC of 2023 is using cadre deployment to practice job reservation just like the government of 1976 did.

In today’s South Africa, the ANC has also reintroduced group areas that prescribe where you can work and live on the basis of your skin colour.

Just last month, they published a list of racial quotas that determine which race groups can work in which sectors and provinces.

The quotas apply to 18 different economic sectors and across all nine provinces.

Businesses that do not comply with these quotas will be severely punished.

They will be cut off from doing business with the state and can be fined up to 10 percent of their annual turnover.

According to the ANC’s new race quotas, if you are a young black women employed in top management at a manufacturing company here in the Eastern Cape – and if more than 13% of your colleagues are also black women – then you will be fired or that company will be punished for exceeding the quota of black women it is allowed to employ.

In a profession like nursing, a clinic here in the Eastern Cape where more than 35% of the professional nurses are black women will be violating the quota and breaking the ANC’s new Group Areas Act.

In Limpopo and North West, the quotas will entirely ban the employment of coloured South Africans in certain sectors, while in other cases, Indian South Africans will be reduced to 0.1%.

Just think about that. The government of 2023 is reducing us to decimal points and race quotas in the land of our birth. It is telling us in which sectors we can work, and where we can live, based on race.

Just like the government of 1976 did.

This race quota law is abhorrent, disgraceful and utterly dehumanising. And it will lead to even higher youth unemployment than ever before.

One study projects that it will cause nearly 600 000 job losses.

Skilled young people will flee overseas. Business will stop investing. Poverty, hunger and suffering will grow.

Everyone will lose under the ANC’s abhorrent resurrection of the Group Areas Act.

But it does not end there.

If we allow this law to stand, the ANC will use these race quotas to extend cadre deployment even deeper into the private sector.

Because that is what they have always done.

Instead of empowering the 33 million people who live in poverty, policies like cadre deployment, BEE and race quotas are designed to only benefit the ANC elite.

The ANC uses race-based policies as a fig leaf to keep everyone else locked out while the cadres feast.

ANC policies are deliberately designed to lock you out of opportunities, just like second-class education, job reservation and group areas did to the generation of 1976.

So, what is to be done?

I say that it is time do to the government of 2023 what Hector Pieterson’s generation did to the government of 1976!

It is time for us to stand up and say that we will no longer accept the injustice that keeps millions of young people trapped in a failing education system.

That we will no longer accept job reservation for ANC cadres that locks young people out of jobs.

That we will not accept race quotas that define our opportunities in life based on the colour of our skin. We will not accept a return to government racial classification.

I can tell you today without fear of contradiction that if you want to end this injustice and improve your life, then it is time to vote for the DA in 2024.

Because it is the DA that is building a new education system where every child has the chance to unlock their true potential.

Where the DA governs in the Western Cape, double as many children can read for meaning as in the rest of the country, and we are investing R1.2 billion to undo the damage caused to education by the ANC’s destructive Covid lockdown.

It is the DA that is creating job opportunities for young people. In the last quarter of last year, 98% of all new jobs were created in areas where the DA governs.

It is the DA that is exposing and working to abolish the evil cadre deployment system that locks young people out of opportunity.

Just this past week, we won our latest court case to force the ANC to hand over complete records of their cadre deployment committee to the DA.

Very soon, we will use these records to show you exactly how the ANC has locked skilled young people out of work in favour of their corrupt cadres.

And it is the DA that is leading a new defiance campaign against the race quotas that are reintroducing group areas.

We have already gone to court to declare these quotas unconstitutional, so that each and every young person in this country is treated equally and fairly when they apply for any job, anywhere in South Africa.

The next step in the defiance campaign against race quotas will be a historic mass protest.

I invite each and every one of you to join the DA in the streets as we march against the injustice of a failing education system, cadre deployment and race quotas that is killing the dreams of our young people.

My fellow South Africans,

Despite the sad similarities between the injustices young people endure today and that which they endured yesterday, there is one key difference between the youth of 1976 and the country we live in today.

In next year’s election, all of us have the power to vote out the government that is oppressing our young people.

The ANC government of 2023 is doing to the young people of today’s South Africa what the apartheid government did to young people of 1976.

So it is time to do to this government in 2024 what Hector Pieterson’s generation did to the government of 1976!

The time has come.

We are tired of empty promises! We are tired of waiting!

The youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, I say to you that you are the leaders of today!

I say to you: stand up, take your rightful place, and lead like the generation of 1976 showed you!

But there is one very important thing that you must remember. When election day comes, and it is time to cast your ballot and rid this country of the ANC, you will not be able to vote if you have not registered.

That is why voter registration is so important, and why we are telling the youth of South Africa today - go out and register to vote DA. You can only vote if you are registered, which is why we have launched the hashtag #PowerToTheRegistered

All you need to do is visit check.da.org.za to register online.

Take back your power. Register to vote today.

History is calling on you, just like it called the generation of 1976.

Take your rightful place in history next year by being part of the new generation of South African heroes that votes out this rotten ANC and replaces it with a DA-led government that will finally fulfil the promise of 1976!

The ANC has long since betrayed that promise.

In 2023, the DA is the party that is committed to fulfilling the promise of a new South Africa, where every young person receives a quality education, where every young person can find work, and where every young person is treated fairly.

I thank you.

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP - Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 16 June 2023