Address by Cde Mluleki Dlelanga YCLSA National Secretary at the 5th DENOSA Student Movement
6 August 2017, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga Province
The President and National Secretary of DENOSA Student movement, Leadership of DENOSA, the Provincial Secretary of YCLSA Cde Tinyiko Ntini, leadership of the Progressive Youth Alliance and the owners of DENOSA Student movement who are delegates here in this 5th national congress.
Let me for and on behalf of the 4th National Congress National Committee conveys a warm salute and comradely greetings on this important gathering, the parliament of DENOSA Student movement, the 5th National Congress. The YCLSA value your invitation and wish that we can strengthen our relations in line with the YCLSA's programme of intensifying youth mobilization for socialism in all key sites of struggle.
On behalf of the rank and file membership of the YCLSA, I apologise profusely that we have been receiving your invitations but we have been unable to address your programmes due to other political commitments. We have to cancel all our engagements and the National Committee said we must honour the invitation. Our presence is a sign that we value our revolutionary relations, a sign of commitmentment to further strengthen our relations and the commitment of the YCLSA on its programme of youth mobilisation.
We further want to assure you comrades that YCLSA is your home. You free to raise any insure with YCLSA, you free to criticize us if we not doing well and you free also to applaud us when we doing well.
Comrades, we were made aware by your leadership that you ate breakfast in the morning. In that breakfast there was bacon and bacon comes from the pig. The pig has to be sacrificed so that you comrades can have bacon as part of your breakfast. Let me repeat it comrades, the pig has to sacrifice its life so that you can have a bacon part of your breakfast. The revolution currently is experiencing moments of regress as such requires comrades that are prepared to sacrifice their lives to rescue , defend and advance the revolution as pig has already did for us so as to have bacon in the breakfast.
Fidel Castro on July 1963 "The duty of revolutionaries, especially at this moment , is to know how to recognize and how to take advantage of the changes of the changes in the correlation of forces that have taken place in the world and to understand that these changes facilitate the people's struggle. The duty of revolutionaries , of Latin America revolutionaries , is not to wait for the change in the correlation of forces to produce a miracle of social revolutions in Latin America, but to take full advantage of everything that is favorable to the revolution movement and to make revolution!
Comrades, you can talk about Fidel Castro without anything clicking in your mind about Cuba, let alone the Cuban Revolution. You cannot also as a medical student when one speaking about Cuba not wish to be in that country whether to study, visit and practice your profession for experience including the number of South African doctors that have been trained in Cuba. Also you cannot just ignore the revolutionary role and the intervention during critical moments Cuban doctors has done for other countries and humanity. As the YCLSA, we therefore call you young revolutionaries the medical students to seize the moment and work hard to be the best nurses and doctors that your contribution on our revolution is to save the humanity especial servicing the poor people in hospitals.
UNPACKING THE OVERVIEW, CONTEXT AND CONTENT OF YOUTH IN SA
The term youth or young people have different meanings depending on the context. One meaning is based on a sociological definition of youth as a life stage comprising of a series of "transitions from adolescence to adulthood, from dependence to independence, and from being recipients of society's services to becoming contributors to national, economic, political and cultural life." (Curtain, 2003: 74) For the purposes of statistical comparisons, however, international organizations such as the United Nations define youth as those aged between 15 and 24 years. The African Union and the African Youth Charter in particular defines youth as individuals aged between 15 to 35 years.
The National Youth Policy of South Africa 2020 defines youth development as: an intentional, comprehensive approach that provides space, opportunities and support for young people to maximize their individual and collective creative energies for personal development as well as development of the broader society of which they are an integral part. In the context of South Africa and most other developing countries, development has taken a new shape to incorporate sustainable livelihoods. It is therefore argued that personal development and national development should incorporate aspects of sustainable livelihoods and the necessary interventions to facilitate sustainability.
For the purposes of this report youth or young people shall refer to every person between the age of 15 and 35 years and youth development shall be defined as: an intentional, comprehensive approach that provides space, opportunities and support for young people to maximize their individual and collective creative energies for personal development, national development and sustainable livelihoods.
It is important to understand the different social perspectives on youth and the dominant social perspective in society. Youth constitute a significant, growing and distinct group in society. Much can be said about how society views youth. The way in which society views youth is critical to shaping perceptions by the adult population and how youths view themselves. There are there three contending social perspectives on youth; youth as consumers in society, youth as problems to society and youth as assets to society.
The narrow perspective takes the view of youth as nothing more than consumers in society. This social perspective resonates with the profit-driven motive of capitalist society where the youth group is considered to be nothing more than a market to be influenced and exploited. Youth can therefore be influenced from a very early age in terms of what products they purchase. Hence the introduction of "strategic philanthropy," whereby private sector companies give away items to schools in exchange for opportunities to display their corporate names. This represents a dimension of marketing to youth complementing the usual approaches through mass media. In this way youth are seen as a market to be exploited. Not surprisingly, we have seen an increasing number of books dealing with the marketing of products to the youth. Youth-targeted marketing has been approached from many perspectives. Youth as consumers of business on the internet are expected to account for more than 1.3 billion US dollars in revenues from on-line sales. It is estimated that young girls spend more than 9 billion US dollars on fragrances, cosmetics and other beauty products annually. Thus the consumer perspective seeks to advance the narrative that youth are an important market and must be viewed as such.
Another social perspective takes a different viewpoint of youth as assets to society. The asset perspective views youth as having the potential to contribute actively and meaningfully to society. Youth are seen as benefactors of development and not simply as beneficiaries of development. This social perspective sees youth in a position to help rather than to receive assistance. This viewpoint resonates with youth as agents of change capable of leading their own development with society's support. It empowers youth away from problems such as crime, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse to one of enhancing potential. Youth become agents for addressing service delivery challenges such as involvement in the building of houses as opposed to being passive recipients of housing programmes. A switch to such a social perspective would offer tremendous rewards for society, not to mention youth and their families. The decision makers in our society have placed little value in the potential of youth leading to young people becoming undervalued by society and overlooked in policy. The asset perspective has been more beneficial to improving the levels of youth participation and the quality of youth leadership.
The third perspective views youth as victims (unemployed, abused, neglected etc.), as criminals or as hedonists (drug users, addicts, promiscuous etc.). Youth are categorized as problems to society and a drain on national resources. This viewpoint sees youth as a group to be feared and dependent on development programmes for their eventual graduation into adulthood. Those who adopt such a deficit or problem perspective do not see youth as equal partners or capable citizens but rather as those who 'must still learn' and therefore cannot lead. According to McKnight (1995), a tremendous amount of resources have been invested in portraying youth as problems to society.
This deficit or problem perspective is dominant in South African society. The media in particular has played a significant role in shaping a dominant perspective of youth as either consumes or problems to society. There is a need to change our social perspective to be more dominant in viewing youth as assets to society as opposed to a drain on society. It can also be said that South African society is suffering from 'adultism.' In 1996, John Bell argued that the prevalence of adultism (the disrespect for the youth based on the assumption that adults are better than young people and are therefore entitled to act upon young people without their agreement) must be recognized if society is to make effective progress in having youth as equal partners. Young South Africans want to be treated as equal partners and not as 'adults in waiting.' The fundamental belief that adults know what is 'best' for youth often interferes with the development of a genuine dialogue about youth participation and youth programmes. When the older generation subscribe to this belief, the true potential of youth cannot be achieved and the result will be greater youth underdevelopment.
GENERAL CHALLENGES FACING THE YOUNG PEOPLE
The current youth demographic suggests that South Africa is experiencing a youth bulge. It is crucial that we factor this youth bulge into national, provincial and local planning. The South African population is young and those between the ages of 14 and 35 are estimated to be over 20.5 million. Demographers and economists argue that the youth bulge contributes to swelling the working population relative to the dependent population. Where there is an increase in the working population relative to the dependent population, a country could benefit economically; provided there are policies and programmes that enable this large working-age population to optimally participate in the economy. The economic benefit accrues because consumption will be lower than production, based on the economically-productive population being much higher than the non-productive population. It is argued that this will avail resources for national savings, recapitalization of the economy and for social investment such as health and wellbeing as well as education and skills development. This has been termed a demographic dividend. A demographic dividend may provide a strong catalyst for socio-economic growth and development.
The biggest challenge that we face as a country is how to help young people walk through the front door of the labour market and into decent jobs as well as other sustainable economic opportunities. Youth unemployment is the most pressing issue facing young people of today and is public enemy number one. One could argue that youth unemployment has become a primary threat to the national democratic revolution. To advance the NDR requires a more dedicated focus on job creation for the youth and affirming youth employment creation as an apex priority of society, not just of government. The albatross of youth unemployment cannot fall squarely on the shoulders of government. All social partners must contribute to addressing both demand and supply side causes of youth unemployment.
It is important to contextualize youth unemployment as not something that is new or unique. Youth unemployment in South Africa has been on the rise since the late 1970s rising to almost 20% in the early 1980s. Many countries across the globe are struggling to create jobs for their youth populations. In fact, countries such as Spain and Greece have higher youth unemployment rates than South Africa. As of November 2014, the youth unemployment rate in Spain was 53.5%, in Greece 49.8% and in Italy 43.9%. At the same time the youth unemployment rate in South Africa was 36.1%. Clearly the challenge of youth unemployment is a global challenge and not simply a local one. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates global youth unemployment at over 75 million young people. The youth unemployment statistics in the first quarter of 2017 increased by 1.2 of a percentage point to 27.7% - the highest figure since September 2003.
The statistician-general of Statistics South Africa, released the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of this year recently, saying that the growth in employment was offset by the increase in the number of job seekers who entered the market in the beginning of the year. The expanded unemployment rate - which includes those who wanted to work but did not look for work - increased by 0.8 of a percentage point to 36.4%, or 391 000 people. This amounts to 9.3 million people who were unemployed but wanted to work in the first quarter of 2017.
The statistician-general of Statistics South Africa further said the gap between the unemployment rate envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the current rate is widening.
"The NDP states unemployment should be 14% by 2020 and we have only two and a half years to that target," he said. "The gap to 2020 currently stands at 13.7 percentage points."
In the fourth quarter of 2016, unemployment stood at 26.5%. Of the 433 000 of people who joined the ranks of the unemployed in the first quarter of 2017, approximately 58% were young people between the ages of 15 and 34 years. "Unemployment remained high among those with an education level of less than matric at 33.1%, which is 5.4 percentage points higher than the national average." This number is even higher when the number of discouraged work seekers is taken into account. The quarterly figures show that less than 5% of the discouraged work seekers have tertiary education, while approximately 72% had an education level below matric.
The unemployment rate among graduates are 7.3% and the employment by industry levels through the latest figures show that the manufacturing sector reflected the biggest growth in employment in the first quarter of 2017 - by 62 000. The mining industry showed employment growth of 26 000 after a decline for four consecutive quarters. The agricultural sector shed 44 000 jobs in the period under review, while employment in the trade sector dropped by 15 000. Jobs in the informal sector also went down by 14 000 to 2.7 million.
ALL REVOLUTIONARY MEDICAL STUDENTS MUST BE YCLSA MEMBERS
Comrades of course am not there to recruit you BUT am here sent by our esteemed National Committee to address your congress as per your invitation. The National Committee of the YCLSA has asked me to engage your on areas of joint political programs that we can have and also to encourage all revolutionary young nurses that they must all join the YCLSA and also to emphasize on the importance of revolutionaries young nurses in the struggle for socialism.
Comrade delegates, as the YCLSA we have looked on key areas that we can have joint programmes:
- Funding model, do away with bursary system and fight for implementation of persal system.
- Fight for absorption of nurses immediately after completion of training.
- Fight to end nurse's exploitation, in this case abolition of community service.
- Joint political school in all level
- Have annual bilateral meetings in all levels
We propose these areas which this 5th national Congress must discuss but we has want to remind this congress that some of the areas we proposed you have already resolved on all what is outstanding is the implementation. Therefore as the YCLSA we are ready and we hope the leadership that will emerge out of this congress will implement the proposed programme which we hope the congress will adopt it.
Comrades, health care is one of the most sensitive and crucial areas through which our enemies, the enemies of the working class are fighting with all in their disposal to hurt our people. They frustrate the implementation of National Health Insurance, they fail to provide dignified hospitality to our people, and they do not provide necessary medication to fight diseases that kills our people.
One of the areas where the influence of the revolution has been strongly felt has been the field of health care. Recently the hospital conditions especially those for the poor an in appalling conditions. In other hospitals there are no doctors or one doctor is servicing the whole hospital which is highly populated. Even some doctors and nurses don't want to work in rural areas to service the poor.
Comrades the chief main task of a revolutionary medical student is to make enormous effort to graduate, especially those who are prepared to serve our people in particular the poor. A revolutionary medical student should be the first to be prepared to work in the rural areas or in areas where the majority of the population is poor.
When a medical students in the class divided society we live in, the exploitative society we live in become an experienced professional and achieve fame, the people could no longer count on him/her, except for exceptional cases, because there are always exceptions, naturally. These professionals becomes nurses or doctors for the rich, then it becomes difficult for our people to receive their services.
The question is who can solve these problems? First of all, we must solve our problems with revolutionary or patriotic doctors and nurses. Because it is only fair to say that while there have been corrupt, disreputable and money-hungry nurses and doctors , there have also been many, very many good , conscientious and humane nurses and doctors , who view their profession the way they should. This is your responsibility to be such doctors and nurses.
Comrades, history teaches us that the doctors and nurses who took the genuine oath and viewed their mission as a sacred one did not sell their soul and therefore you also must never sell your souls. If you do so comrades you will help us to solve these problems. Those who remain pure in the midst of a society of corruption and selfishness will help us to solve the problems. Those who sacrifice all for the revolution, our people and our country will help us to save our problems. Those who are not just doctors and nurses but the good men and women, as patriots and as revolutionaries will help us to solve our problems.
Comrades as the YCLSA we want to say to all medical students present in this congress as delegates and guests your home is the YCLSA. Our doors are open for you to join this home that we must together build, that we must together grow, that we must together nature and that we must together build!
We wish your 5th National Congress all the best and we are confident that by the time the congress is closed all of you you will understand the task at hand and ready to sacrifice and build your organization.
Long Live DENOSA, Long Live!
Long Live DENOSA Student Movement, Long Live!
Viva YCLSA, Viva!