Let us (not politicians) develop our youth!

While the debate about religious holidays in South Africa’s calendar rages on, the powers that be should also look at political holidays. I think there are too many of them and their meaning has been lost to many of us. I mean when was the last time you celebrated Heritage Day and what did you do to commemorate it? And what about Freedom Day or Worker’s Day? I am sure you are getting my point. June 16 is known on these shores as Youth Day and subsequently the whole month of June has been dedicated to the youth. Now did you do anything in your normal routine to factor this? If you are like the majority of South Africans you probably couldn’t be bothered.

“I say let us do away with the youth month and go back to our homes to raise our children the way the Bible instructs us to. In fact, let us do away with all these holidays that promote symbolism at the expense of substance. There is nothing politicians love more than symbolism.”

Our State President, the honourable Jacob Zuma was billed to be the keynote speaker  at the main Youth Day Celebration that was held at the Wolfson Stadium, in Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth. But he jetted off to Mexico for a G20 Summit and instead sent Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane to represent him. Many have suggested that the President chickened out to avoid being booed and embarrassed by ANC Youth League members dissatisfied with his style of leadership. They say he is autocratic. This is the same organisation whose ex-president, Julius Malema, declared that he would kill for Jacob Zuma. Julius who? I know, I know, he is a classic example of the corrupting nature of power and of how the mighty fall. Now they are probably searching for the next; self-seeking, vulgar and unprincipled young person because these seem to be the criteria for being the president of the Youth League. If you think you are invincible and you think you are a wellspring of ideas we should daily be listening to, then the ANC Youth League is looking for you. If you can pronounce the words ‘nationalisation’ and ‘expropriation’, and have the rare ability to be senseless for most of the time and can denigrate people at a whim, then please do apply.

However if you have an actual skill, are well-mannered and considerate then you are not the candidate. Now June 16 is a celebration of the selfless struggle of the youth of 1976. But now it has degenerated into a celebration of meaninglessness and posturing. On this day many stand and make meaningless speeches about the struggles young people face today and what should be done to address those struggles. Many of these very same individuals are responsible for entrenching SA’s youth into a life of poverty and underachievement through policies designed to benefit a few politically connected people. The real story of SA’s youth is that many are deprived of opportunities necessary for them to craft a bright and meaningful future. Many live in dire poverty, are unemployed, are receiving substandard education, etc. But contrast this with the lifestyles of youth leaders from our political formations and from an outfit called the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

The NYDA is the organisation that is renowned for wastefulness. They blew  R100 million in an ill-conceived conference that was characterised by kissing games played by the international delegates. Note that much of this money was raised from the Lotto, the very organisation with which many NGOs have become disillusioned. Relief organisations with impeccable records have become exasperated with the shenanigans of this funding body whose funding criteria very few understand. The dysfunctional NYDA, which purports to represent the developmental aspirations of young people, has an annual budget of R400 million. What is it used for? Well, most of it to pay staff who are mostly ANC Youth League members. In fact this organisation has been called an employment agency for the Youth League. They have recently complained to parliament that their budget is not enough and are asking for it to be increased to R1 billion. The sad thing is that they might actually get this preposterous request granted. Now why should any young person relegate the future of their lives to this cabal of uncaring people?

The youth must understand that they are not supposed to be spectators in the theatre of the own lives. They are supposed to be the main actors. Stop being political fodder or a rented face. You have God on your side, so take matters into your hands and forget about rallies where corpulent men who drive luxury vehicles and consume expensive alcohol come and ventilate air and pontificate meaningless rhetoric. As families we are responsible for raising balanced and successful individuals and we cannot abdicate this responsibility to some conceited and grandstanding politicians. I say let us do away with the youth month and go back to our homes to raise our children the way the Bible instructs us to. In fact, let us do away with all these holidays that promote symbolism at the expense of substance. There is nothing politicians love more than symbolism.

Why should our youth only matter in one month of the year and the rest of the time they have to learn under trees, be victims of crime, and many other evils? We, the Church, have a responsibility to wean them away from this pervasive and deceptive culture of instant gratification and entitlement. We must expose the lies of these self-serving hyenas that masquerade as custodians of youth development. We, ordinary South Africans, are the real custodians of youth development, because we gave birth to these young people and by God we can develop them.


  1. Please refer to http://www.nlb.org.za/applicants-and-beneficiaries/payments.html for a full list of all payments from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) since the inception of the National Lottery. This will help clarify the misperception that leads the writer, when referring to the NLDTF, to say “the very organisation with which many NGOs have become disillusioned”.

    While the public might not always agree with the grants made from the NLDTF, the National Lotteries Board ensures that the requirements for funding are met by all beneficiaries.

    Further, there are 4 sectors to which funding is offered: Arts (28%), Charities (45%), Sport (22%) and Miscellaneous Purposes (5%). The grant for the International Youth Festival came form the Miscellaneous sector and did not reduce or affect funding to the other sectors. Further, the grant for the festival clearly identified the aspects/line items of the festival that could be funded by the NLDTF. This is what will be reported on as per the grant agreement.

    • Thank you Sershan for your contribution. I had a look at the payments made by the National Lottery and I paid a special attention to the financial year of 2011-2012. The amount awarded to the 131 charities in this time period amounts to just over R72 million. Now surely you cannot expect us to rejoice over what looks like misplaced priorities. Wherever the R100 million came from that funded this shameful conference by the NYDA it could have been put into better use. There are many charitable organisation, others with a national footprint, who could have put even 10% of that money into better use. With a country with some much poverty and underdevelopment it is difficult to justify what the NLDTF did. You could have followed your policy to the latter in this case but what about the ethical considerations. Perceptions matter you know and the perception held by many is that you simply bowed to political pressure. I await the report from the NYDA.

      • You are correct that 131 NGOs in the Eastern Cape received R72 million from the Charirites sector in the 2011/2012 financial year. We have 4 sectors that operate independently and with their own budget. A grant to a sports body does not affect the grant to a charities body. Simalarly, a grant from the miscellaneous purposes sector does not affect grants to the charities sector. The grant to the NYDA came from the miscellaneous purposes sector. The miscellaneous purposes sector has 5% of the budget. The charities sector has 45% of the budget. You cannot compare the grant to the NYDA, which is from the miscellaneous sector to grant to charitable organisations. there were also large grants made in the arts and sports sectors as clearly indicated in the payments lists. each one of us has our own preferences and will see grants to other as not suitable. What we have to do at the National Lotteries Board is to ensure that all the requirments are met. The grant to NYDA met all the requirements and has to report like all other grants.

  2. Thank you Pastor Afrika we are having youth that is entertained by 1 day events. We as the youth of this country need to understand that the political holidays are not about celebrating us or the things accomplished, they are about before democracy. So these holidays have no effect to our day to day challenges which are poverty, lack of opportunities, poor standard of education ect. So we have to stand up and look at ourselves ask questions because we deserve better. The better is not going to come from the normal pattern we are having in this country. It will come when we start to disign our programmes on these days according to God stardand were basic need are being addressed and the programmes are should be disigned to affect present and future. This article is an eye opener Thank you once again.

    • Thanks Ncedo. We must indeed move away from these symbolic and yet meaningless events. The reality of people lives is far different from what happens in rallies and political meetings. “Amandla ngawethu” does not feed anyone’s stomach or take anyone to school. Someone has pulled a wool over our eyes and it is time we remove it. It is them with “amandla” and not the rest of our youth.

  3. Its great to read such an article from a churched young person’s point of view. Brilliant.