With the country's unemployment rate at 27.7%, and with 58% of those sitting at home aged between 15 and 25, PUSELETSO NTHATE and ORATENG LEPODISE spoke to young people ahead of the 41st commemoration of 16 June to hear their views on a democratic South Africa.
Bandile Ngobese, 24, Orlando East, Soweto
“Corruption is hindering our growth. South Africa has boiled down to bribes being the norm, graduates at robots looking for jobs and 14-year-old girls selling their bodies to support their families. This is a crisis that could be prevented by the government using the money that is being served to corruption. If government could address the elephant of corruption and take serious measures against government officials involved in corrupt activities, our country would be a better place. Even if laws have to be changed or toughened, so be it. This is an issue which can open doors to generations to come so that they don’t need to pay or sleep with a person for a job.”
Thabiso Shaun-Douglas Mabille, 20, Attridgeville, Pretoria
“There are a lot of things that need to be addressed like service delivery, for example, the delivery of school textbooks on time. The way things are in our country has made me lose interest in celebrating any holiday because I honestly see no point. Our brothers sacrificed their lives on (16 June) so that we can have a better future, where there is no racism or discrimination, but unfortunately that is not the case. Our leaders are busy fighting each other in Parliament instead of discussing important issues like education and delivering on the promises they made. This is also affecting the status of our country’s economy. There needs to be change in South Africa.”
Fhumulani Lukoto, 25, Venda
“The unemployment rate is very high because of the corrupt leaders we have. These days it’s all about who you know in order for you to get a job and not about your qualification. It’s 23 years into democracy but there’s still no transformation. South Africa is a male-dominated country. It’s very sad that women sleep their way up or are being killed for raising their opinion. Crime is another issue. The government is to blame, because there are no jobs and people are hungry. Even having a qualification means nothing. I am a post-graduate myself and finding a job is a struggle. I got into and through university and now that I have my qualification it frustrates me even more because I still have to go through another struggle of finding a job.”
Reanu Herandien, 19, Capital Park, Pretoria
“I am grateful for what the youth of 1976 did. I am a born free myself thanks to them. I may not understand the struggle they went through but it is really disappointing to see that what they fought hard for is being thrown into the dustbin. Government is failing us and if the state fails, the country fails with it. There are good leaders out there but they are over shadowed by the bad ones, so their hard work goes unnoticed. What happened to Pravin Gordhan is really sad, because to me it was so sudden and seemed a little bit unfair.”
Narkeasha Ndiweni, 23, Hatfield, Pretoria
“I haven’t experienced democracy in a beneficial way. Even if we think we’re in a democracy everything that happens in this country is only structured to fit and benefit a certain group of people. As much as we may think we are free we are not necessarily liberated.”
Willencha Snyders, 20, Klaradyn Residence, Hatfield, Pretoria
“Twenty-three years into democracy and only a few things have been changed. We need better-paying jobs. The mindset of people needs to change. Everyone is saying we must get an education, but what happens after the education if there are no jobs for those graduates? The poor are still poor, the rich are getting richer, and even as we speak there is a list of people who are waiting for RDP houses that they have applied for a long time ago. Corruption is a shadow over many things. Fair decisions must be made for tender applications. We need accountable leaders.”
Athabile Ngxamngxa, 22, Garsfontein, Pretoria
“I feel like in the South African context democracy was kind of reached at a political level but not necessarily economically and socially. I feel like there are a lot of issues that still need to be addressed in the country that we kind of just swept things under the rug and now these things are unravelling. There is still a lot of economic divide and things like that need to be fixed .”
Tshepang Kegakilwe, 24, Kuruman
“There’s racism everywhere – in schools, shopping malls, church. People are still addressed differently because of the colour of their skin. There is racism in work places. Skin colour still speaks louder than anything. We need to leave the past behind and focus on the future. We want freedom to interact with whomever we want to and walk freely and be treated equally.”
Takunda Gabriel Nyadundu, 21, Studios Hatfield, Pretoria
“I am from Zimbabwe and personally I feel like South Africans are luckier than Zimbabweans. South Africa is better than other African countries, here the system actually benefits the youth even though it is not perfect but it is way better. I cannot complain about anything. It’s a pity that those in power abuse their power which generates a lot of criticism.” DM
Photo: Shadows of children are seen during a march in front of the Hector Pieterson Memorial as commemorations continue on the 40th anniversary of the student uprising against the Apartheid regime in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, 16 June 2016 Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
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