"Let us learn from the youth of 1976", says the Young Communist League of South Africa in Gauteng Province.
15 June 2012
As the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) in the province of Gauteng we would like to wish all young people in the province the best in celebrating the Youth Day, June 16. This must not only be a celebration but must also be used as an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing the youth of 2012.
The challenges facing the youth of 2012 are enormous. Some of the underlying material causes, particularly the main ones, of the challenges facing the youth of 2012 are, however, the same as those of the challenges that faced the youth of 1976. In particular the economic structure of our society remains that of the system called capitalism. This system is based on the private accumulation of socially produced wealth by a tiny minority called capitalists. Capitalism involves the exploitation of the workers by the capitalists.
Production under capitalism is not carried out to meet societal needs. It is carried out to satisfy private accumulation of socially produced wealth for a few, the capitalists. Production under capitalism is organised and functions in ways including endemic crisis that create class inequality, cause conflict, poverty and unemployment. Just in terms of unemployment alone which affects mostly the youth, the situation is scary.
According to Statistics South Africa Quarterly Labour Force Survey (Quarter 1, 2012):
- Since the fourth quarter of 2008 employment has declined with the effect of a rise in unemployment despite some fluctuating employment increases in some quarters.
- In the first quarter of 2012, the number of unemployed persons reached 4.5 million, the same level as that of the second quarter of 2011.
- The gender dimension of unemployment remains in its historical terms where women more likely to be unemployed than men, 1.2 times in the first quarter of 2012. The unemployment rate for women in fact remained higher than the national average between the first quarters of 2008 and 2012.
Yet all of these figures are calculated in narrow terms. Those who have been searching for employment and without finding it got discouraged to continue searching are excluded in the calculations. This means that the number of unemployed persons is much higher than the figures given.
The racial legacy of colonialism, whatever it type, and apartheid, also remains intact and continues to be manifested in employment, unemployment and under-employment. According to the Statistics South Africa’s Labour Force Survey (Quarter 1, 2012), Africans are the worst affected by unemployment, followed by coloureds, who are followed by Indians or Asians with whites being the least affected and better off in terms employment.
The challenge for the youth of 2012 is that the majority of the unemployed are young people. According to a discussion paper titled ‘Confronting youth unemployment’ developed by the National Treasury (February 2011), about 3 million young people of 15 to 34 years were unemployed in December 2010 and 1.3 million were discouraged. As the National Treasury states, this suggests that at the time youth unemployment rate translated into 34.5 per cent, which represents 72 per cent of overall unemployment. Although advocating a wrong solution altogether called the youth wage subsidy, the National Treasury’s discussion paper highlights the greater extent of youth unemployment:
- About 42 per cent of young people under the age of 30 are unemployed compared with less than 17 per cent of adults over the age of 30.
- Only 1 in 8 working age adults under the age of 25 years of age have a job compared with 40 per cent in most emerging economies.
- Employment of young people aged 18 to 24 has fallen by more than 20 per cent by then since December 2008.
- Unemployed young people tend to be less skilled and inexperienced – almost 86 per cent do not have formal further or higher education, while two-thirds have never worked.
The gender dimension of unemployment suggests that young women are the worst affected. In terms of national population groups, the colonial and apartheid racial legacy suggests that young Africans in particular and young blacks in general are the worst affected by unemployment. The colonial and apartheid legacy and the gender dimension taken together suggest that young African women in particular and young black women in general are the worst affected.
In our view as the YCLSA strategies to confront unemployment must combine with strategies to build a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
Our message as the YCLSA in Gauteng is that as the youth of 2012 we must take cue from the youth of 1976. Unless as the youth we stand up on our own and collectively face up to the challenges facing us like the youth of 1976 did in fighting against apartheid colonialism it would be inconceivable to hope that our challenges will be addressed and finally resolved.
The most sustainable solution to the challenges of class inequality, poverty and unemployment is the overthrow of their underlying cause, i.e. the system of capitalism. Capitalism must be replaced with the system of socialism which is based on meeting societal needs. But while we carry out this struggle, it is clear that other immediate steps must be taken to address inequality, poverty and unemployment.
Definitely the youth wage subsidy as advocated by the National Treasury and wrongly supported by capitalist-backing organisations such as the DA is a wrong prescription to the challenge of unemployment.
Our position as the YCLSA is that the funds that the National Treasury has set aside for the youth wage subsidy must be redeployed to fund work experience training such as practical and experiential training, learnerships and apprenticeships, scare and critical skills programmes in further education and training colleges and universities.
It is our correctly held view that “jobs” preoccupation alone is not a solution to the challenge of unemployment. We strongly believe that assisting young people to set up co-operatives will go a long way in tackling not only unemployment but also class inequality and poverty.
As the YCLSA we appeal to all young people to learn from the youth of 1976 and take collective responsibility in addressing and resolving the challenges facing the youth and seizing available opportunities. As the youth of 2012 we are in a better position as compared to the youth of 1976 because apartheid has at least been defeated although it is yet to be exterminated.
Government has significantly expanded access to education, in particular since the 2009 elections more than in any period after our transition to democracy in 1994. We need to take advantage of this and mobilise young people to enrol at further education and training colleges and universities.
As the YCLSA in Gauteng we will join many organised activities including the YCLSA national rally scheduled as follows.
Date: Sunday, 17 June 2012
Venue: Ephraim Mogale Stadium, Modimolle (Limpopo)
Speakers: SACP General Secretary, Blade Nzimande
ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe
COSATU President, Sdumo Dlamini
YCLSA National Secretary, Buti Manamela
Issued by the YCLSA Gauteng
Alex Mashilo – Provincial Secretary
082 9200 308
Matankana Mothapo – Provincial Spokesperson
082 7590 900