YOUNG PEOPLE DEBATE CURRENT POLITICS
Lindokuhle Patiwe is a postgraduate student at the University of Cape Town and National Secretary of the Black People’s National Crisis Committee; Masixole Mlandu, Cape Town-based activist and one of the student leaders of the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFfall movements; Noncedo Madubedube, Equal Education General Secretary and Axolile Notywala, a Cape Town-based social justice activist who has served as the Secretary General of the Social Justice Coalition and was a 2020 Racial Justice Atlantic fellow
Twenty-seven years after democracy, the year that South Africans were promised ‘a better life for all’, unemployment levels are at their highest level, specifically within the youth category. The events of 2021 in the riots of Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal exposed the deep-seated desperation of South Africans. In recent years there has been a serious cry from youth voices that South Africa has ‘abandoned’ them. With election season upon us, political parties and independent candidates will be vying for votes with the promise of making their lives better. With young South Africans making up the biggest demographic of eligible voters and also having the highest levels of unemployment, many of the election manifestos would have focused on how to deal with the many issues facing young people in South Africa today.
The recent Zambian elections have added an interesting twist to the discourse. It has been said that young people were at the forefront of making sure that the previous regime in Zambia was removed from power. It is yet to be seen if this new regime will make any significant changes for the young people of Zambia.
It is important to ask, therefore, what of the South African youth? If it took the Zambian youth to formally engage in legislative politics, either through standing as candidates for legislature or actively campaigning and engaging in electoral politics, could the same tactics be applied in South Africa? Is there hope for the South African youth outside of formal legislative politics?
This panel discussion will have two guiding questions. Is there hope in formal legislative politics for young people – or – can young people fight and attain change from the outside? Secondly, the ANC government is in turmoil; after being in power for twenty-seven years, we are still reporting high unemployment rates. The PAC has, since post-94, been engulfed in internal leadership battles; AZAPO and the Unity movement have disappeared from the South African body politic. Is the broad liberation movement still a viable vehicle for change?