Why eco­nomic free­dom call is still rel­e­vant

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Vic­to­ria de Beer-Mthombeni

ECO­NOMIC Free­dom in Our Life­time was the clar­ion call made by the ANCYL in June 2011. The 24th Na­tional Congress re­solved to fight tire­lessly for the re­al­i­sa­tion of eco­nomic free­dom in our life­time, par­tic­u­larly na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of mines, ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion and pro­vi­sion of free qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion.

The ANC made many sac­ri­fices and con­ces­sions dur­ing the tran­si­tion pe­riod lead­ing to the 1994 demo­cratic elec­tions. The con­ces­sions and sac­ri­fices were made to con­sol­i­date po­lit­i­cal power and free­dom.

The Free­dom Char­ter re­mains the vi­sion and strate­gic ob­jec­tive of the ANC in achiev­ing rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion which is no dif­fer­ent from the clar­ion call made by the ANCYL at Gal­lagher Es­tate in June 2011, that un­der the demo­cratic gov­ern­ment, the min­eral wealth be­neath the soil, mo­nop­oly in­dus­tries and banks shall be trans­ferred to the own­er­ship of the peo­ple as a whole.

This Free­dom Char­ter was re-af­firmed at all ANC con­fer­ences, in­clud­ing the 2007 52nd Na­tional Con­fer­ence in Polok­wane, whose view on eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion took as its start­ing point, the Free­dom Char­ter`s clar­ion call that the peo­ple shall share in the coun­try`s wealth.

As we com­mem­o­rate and cel­e­brate Youth Month, we should has­ten to re­visit the res­o­lu­tions of the 24th Na­tional Con­fer­ence which gave im­pe­tus to the rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

Part of the in­puts of eco­nomic free­dom in our life­time were premised on:

a. In­creas­ing the bud­get of the state for so­cial devel­op­ment – health, ed­u­ca­tion, ru­ral devel­op­ment, fight against crime and job cre­ation.

b. Lay­ing a very firm ba­sis for min­er­als to be lo­cally ben­e­fi­ci­ated and in­dus­tri­alised.

c. Chang­ing the econ­omy from over-de­pen­dence and reliance on ex­ports of nat­u­ral re­sources and im­ports of fin­ished goods and ser­vices.

d. Cre­at­ing new eco­nomic cen­tres of devel­op­ment out­side of Joburg, Dur­ban and Cape Town.

e. Im­prov­ing the work­ing con­di­tions and salaries of minework­ers.

Gov­ern­ment rev­enue that is gen­er­ated from taxes will not be able to build bet­ter lives for all South Africans. Gov­ern­ment can­not solely rely on taxes to de­liver bet­ter ser­vices to the ma­jor­ity of our peo­ple. South Africa will not be able to deal with the hous­ing back­log, free ed­u­ca­tion ac­cess, bet­ter health­care, safety and se­cu­rity, em­ploy­ment of par­tic­u­larly youth if we are not in con­trol of the key and strate­gic sec­tors of the econ­omy. The wealth of South Africa should ben­e­fit all who live in it.

The eco­nomic plight of the youth is a cause for great con­cern. If any­thing, it is a call to action.

Re­cent stats show un­em­ploy­ment is stand­ing at 27.7% and that un­em­ploy­ment among the youth stands at 54%.

There’s an even big­ger tragedy which has been termed NEET; Not Em­ployed, in Ed­u­ca­tion or Train­ing.

These and mil­lions of other un­em­ployed young peo­ple in town and the coun­try­side, are go­ing through the most de­hu­man­is­ing, dif­fi­cult and painful time of their lives.

Mil­lions of youth go through for­mal ed­u­ca­tion and hun­dreds of thou­sands reach an abyss as soon as they pass or even fail ma­tric. With­out a skill, with poor and in­ad­e­quate ed­u­ca­tion and with no work ex­pe­ri­ence, they are forced to look for jobs in an en­vi­ron­ment hos­tile to un­skilled and in­ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple, that is rigid in terms of age and prone to mas­sive re­trench­ments.

Frankly, to be young in Africa to­day means be­ing vul­ner­a­ble to the hos­tile labour market that treats the work­ing class in gen­eral, but the youth in par­tic­u­lar, with dis­dain and ha­tred.

Prac­ti­cally, a young per­son faces a moun­tain of struc­tural ob­sta­cles when seek­ing a job. If these ob­sta­cles are not re­moved, he stands no chance of ever find­ing a job.

Many young peo­ple, there­fore, are ren­dered un­em­ploy­able. For­mal ed­u­ca­tion chases them off at some point and closes the doors be­hind them; and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion is just in­ac­ces­si­ble ei­ther be­cause of its rigid en­try re­quire­ments or ex­ces­sive fees.

With­out any fear of con­tra­dic­tion, the truth is that the great­est yearn­ing for the youth of our coun­try to­day is for eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion – for the op­por­tu­nity to con­trib­ute to eco­nomic growth and devel­op­ment and to ben­e­fit from such growth and devel­op­ment, hence the clar­ion call “eco­nomic free­dom in our life­time” made in June 2011 is still rel­e­vant.

As the youth we are say­ing, Noth­ing for us, with­out us.

As the youth we are say­ing; Noth­ing for us with­out us!

ANCYL NEC mem­ber and co-founder of NGO: YOUTH UNITE, writ­ing in her per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

JOB­LESS: With youth un­em­ploy­ment at about 54%, the writer says this group must be in­volved and ben­e­fit from rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tives.

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