File photo (Sapa)
Johannesburg – Young people are exploited in service delivery protests because of their vulnerability, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said at a Youth Day event in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
“We call on young people to resist this exploitation and focus on their education and uplifting their lives,” he said.
“You should rather play a significant role in uplifting your communities than destroying it through the violent protests we have witnessed in recent times.”
Chabane was speaking at a rally at the Wolfson stadium in Silvertown.
He said today’s youth should honour the class of 1976 through words and positive deeds.
The 1976 Soweto uprising was a series of high school student-led protests. Learners from various schools in Soweto protested in the streets against the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium in schools. Around 20 000 students took part in the protest, and 176 people were killed.
“Yours as the current generation is to take those struggles forward, informed by the conditions of today,” said Chabane.
“There is no better way to confront your challenges than to confront them head on.”
Earlier, Silvertown residents embarked on a service delivery protest outside the stadium ahead of Chabane’s speech. The residents claimed they were not informed about the Youth Day event.
“The protesters told us that they were not properly consulted about the event and complained about the lack of service delivery,” said police spokesperson Major Ernest Sigobe.
Police had to intervene to calm down the crowd who had been burning tyres and barricading roads nearby.
“We explained to them that their protest was illegal and requested them to follow the right procedures to address their grievances,” said Sigobe.
“Fortunately they listened and the situation returned to normal.”
Initially, President Jacob Zuma was to speak at the stadium but pulled out to attend the G20 meeting in Mexico, which starts on Monday. Chabane replaced him.
Chabane’s spokesperson Harold Maloka confirmed that Chabane had delivered his speech, but declined to comment on the protest.
During his address, Chabane told the crowd that government was aware that despite progress, many challenges remained for South Africa’s democracy.
Young people needed improved access to quality education and skills development so they could participate in the economy.
Youth development was the responsibility of every government department as well as all within South African society, he said.
Chabane highlighted the different programmes which had created thousands of jobs for the youth through government departments, such as arts and culture, environmental affairs, tourism, and public enterprises.
“The national budget continues to support job creation, with a particular focus on unemployed youth.”
He said through the prioritisation of infrastructure development, government had already assisted in job creation.
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