President Cyril Ramaphosa has encouraged the youth to work with government in creating an inclusive economy that will rid South Africa of inequality, poverty and unemployment.
“There has to be life beyond COVID-19. We are looking forward to creativity, innovation and new ideas from young people and we want young people who are going to speak out and step forward,” the President said.
Ramaphosa on Tuesday participated in an interactive panel session with young people as part of the virtual Youth Day commemorations. Youth Day pays tribute to the school pupils who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto.
This year’s Youth Month coincides with the 30th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela and takes place under the theme: “Youth Power; Growing South Africa Together in the Period of COVID-19”.
The President challenged the youth find opportunities post-COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is pregnant with opportunities so I am challenging young people to see that post COVID-19 is a new platform. We need to set up different ways of running our economy, of the ownership of economy and managing our economy and production.
“Technology is going to underpin nearly everything that we are going to do, this is ushering in a new digital society,” he said.
The President also encouraged young people to produce products.
“That is how we want to grow our economy, as government we need to find those gems and invest in them. I want businesses to be helped and supported.
“I want change agents, activists, young people who are progressive, young people who are deeply rooted in principles and values. Young people who will also build a country that will rid our country of gender-based-violence, xenophobia, young people who will be imbued with the spirit that we should have tolerance and respect for one another, for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community and disabled people in our communities must also be empowered,” he said.
The President said government is broadening the frontiers of opportunities for the youth.
“I call on the young people of South Africa to join us in the immense task of rebuilding South Africa and to making this country a place of peace, equality and prosperity for all.
“A country that you, as the young people, will engage in building, as young people you are the change agents, you must be the change that you want to be, you must be become the vehicles of transformation and innovation, the vehicle of creating a great country,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic provides the country with an opportunity to inject new perspectives into how South Africans can turn the economy around.
“Young people must rise to the challenge of leading our recovery after the Coronavirus. We have young entrepreneurs and business owners who through their innovative ideas have been able to change their communities for the better and create new employment opportunities.
“We have outstanding young people in the sciences, research, in sports, entertainment and other fields who have represented our country on global platforms and stages,” Ramaphosa said.
The President noted the voices of young people in movements such as the fees must fall protests and protests against gender-based-violence (GBV).
He said these movements have been catalysts for change, showing the remarkable potential in young people across all sectors and spaces.
“… Young people from time immemorial have always been driven by changing the world, changing the way things are done, by changing the way we live, by changing unjust systems, by bringing about justice and a new world
“The moment that we now confront post COVID-19 calls young people, across the length and the breadth of our country to be part of that change and be change agents,” the President said.