Volume 3, Issue 14: 20-30 October 2006
In this issue:
- South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity!
South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity!
This week we held two historic meetings with AfriForum and the Freedom Front+ to discuss the effect of Affirmative Action, Employment Equity and various other policies that addresses the issues of preferential employment and procurement that was endorsed by our government, and how we continue to deal with such issues in the light of growing frustrations amongst both blacks, coloureds, Indians and whites young South Africans. The meeting was a resultant of the “Wanna be Black” Campaign that was taken up by the AfriForum students based in the University of Pretoria.
Interestingly, both the communist youth and the Afrikaner youth agreed and endorsed the section in our constitution that proclaims that our country “belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.” It was important from a young communist point of view that we endorse this statement in that what we ultimately struggle for, socialism, belong to all who live in our country, black and white, young and old, irrespective of our diversity and focusing on our unity. It is further important that the future of this country can be discussed by young people whom at some point their forefathers and their founding fathers represented two contrasting perspectives, and that the white South Africans who ruled since 1948 represented an intention to annihilate the communist movement, including our Young Communist League.
In our joint statement with the Freedom Front+ Youth, we said that “(we) agreed that although (we) come from opposing ideological and cultural backgrounds, the need exists for continued dialogue on the future of South-Africa and its people.” And thus, as long as we continue with the dialogue that we have already begun, our future is then in our hands.
Beginning obviously from different and sometimes extreme positions in the question of whether black youth should indeed receive preferential treatment after twelve years of democracy, and what the impact of all of these is on the Afrikaner youth as it relates to unemployment, poverty and other socio-economic challenges that the country faces, we had to emerge with what we believe should be a platform for young people, irregardless of their race, should pursue.
Critical questions that both the Freedom Front+ and AfriForum raised included whether is it not time that we normalize and treat each other equally? Whether is it not time that we regard the imbalances of the past as not being the responsibility of the current generation of Afrikaner youth, and that we consider everyone on the basis of merit? We obviously agreed that some of the extreme positions we hold on this critical questions needs to be ironed out, and thus the convention of the Youth Summit as early as possible to discuss and emerge with this youth platform.
The central issues which we felt that we reached groundbreaking consensus on was in identifying the challenges facing young people generally and those that our country faces, and how all of these have an impact on the lives of ordinary South Africans.
We identified the whole issue of inequality as one of the central challenge that the country is faced with. The contrast between the socio economic conditions faced by the people of Alexandra and those of Sandton, and the fact that the only major change between the two is that Alexandra continued in deepening poverty whilst Sandton intensified its wealth accumulation. These inequalities, in the view of the YCL, are obviously centred around the legacy of many years of Apartheid policies which orchestrated for separate development on the basis on colour. The inequality we are talking about begins at birth and ends at death, unless there is some intervention in breaking this cycle of inequality through development and economic emancipation. It shapes itself in the choice of schools, the quality of education we receive, whether we will afford to further our education and ultimately, whether we will be employable and employed.
The reality which we raised with the Afrikaner youth organisations is that even if we were to regard all as equal after twelve years of the fall of Apartheid, the advantages for the majority of blacks are still a distant from those of their white counterparts. Without Employment Equity Act and Affirmative Action, most employers would prefer a student from Pretoria University than that from the University of Zululand. Prospective universities, especially the historically white institutions, will admit mainly students from private schools and Porsche public schools rather than those from township public schools.
We conceded that due to Black Economic Empowerment, some black youth are in a better off situation that some of their white counterparts, and that the situation is not in such a way that, as in the past, it remains an exclusive right of white youth to go to the porshe schools and study at better universities. We further conceded that there are pockets of inequality amongst the white youth, who may be living in conditions as worse as Alexandra. In that regard, in as much as inequality is mainly affecting black youth, there are white young South Africans who face the frustrations of being impoverished and still being denied a job?
We also identified poverty, unemployment and HIV/AIDS as the main challenge that faces most South Africans, whether black or white. This is especially more glaring in the past twelve years that it has been in the past and that due to these challenges, racial tensions manifests themselves in the scramble for the crumbles. We said in the joint statement with AfriForum that “as long as there remains social and economic problems in South Africa, with unemployment at 42% and poverty remaining persistent, racial tensions will still remain in a struggle for the survival of the fittest.”
As part of the discussions, there was an obvious tension around whether we should end Affirmative Action as it is being viewed as a racial policy, and if we do so, what then happens with the inequalities which we believe that left on their own without government regulation, the capitalist market will not resolve them. This is also in the light that white capital is still in control of the economy. We obviously have to find solutions that do not intensify tensions amongst impoverished and working class black and white youth. That the one sees the other as the enemy because of Affirmative Action, whilst the other knows that they are in such conditions because of the legacy of Apartheid.
Our role remains solidly as that of creating unity and harmony amongst the youth of the country, and ensures that they collectively combat the injustices and inequalities created by Apartheid, and now capitalism. Together we will, that’s the Bottomline, cos the YCL said so!
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