On Wednesday, 31 May 2023, the National Youth Coalition South Africa (NYC) held a press conference at the YCMA Hall, Orlando East, Soweto to brief South Africans, in particular the youth about the NYC, and its plans for this year’s Youth Day.
The conference was conducted at the YMCA hall to remember and carry forward the legacy of the Youth of 1976 who organized and planned the protest action there. It was in those hallways that the youth of 1976 convened to determine the actions that would lead to the Soweto Uprising, which raised national and global attention.
The NYC started as a form of commemoration for the 46th anniversary of the Soweto Uprisings in June 2022. It was commemorated through the Youth Day Parade for Justice and Change. Over 2000 young people marched from the Loftus Versveld Stadium to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum to the Presidency -who has yet to respond to us over a year later.
This year, we demand answers and we want our voices to be heard! Six speakers from different organisations gave their message of supportf or the NYC, representing over 100 different organisations, movements and groups. Speakers reinforced the need for collective action in dealing with the countries crises,and to continue building a platform for young people to organise and work in solidarity to achieve common objectives.
The press conference was led by Irfaan Mangera from the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) who serves as the current interim chairperson of the NYC. He was joined by Silindile Clifton Nzimande from Africa Unite, Tebogo Motlana from the Youth Indaba, Tiny Lebelo from Equal Education, Marcus Van Wyk, from YCMA South Africa, and Dorothy Mabelebele from Women in Need Organisation.
In his opening Mangera said, “The AKF’s Youth Activism Programme had been working with communities for four years when it got the call from young people that they need a platform to build solidarity and activism at a much deeper level. The NYC was formed as a result of this call.
“This call was made to deal with the crisis that South Africa faces. The multiplicity of crisis from unemployment, gender based violence, poverty, inequality, climate change… and so as young people we found ourselves asking, how do we organize ourselves and make our voices heard…” said Mangera.
He further commented on the need for us to take lesson from the past, such as the United Democratic Front, who 40 years ago embarked on a similar programme of action, to unite a broad range of South Africans in the pursuit of freedom and democracy. The NYC draws lesson from the past but aims to honour that legacy by actively engaging in shaping the kind of society we want to live in and cement the role of youth as the drivers of change.
Motlana added, “It is important for the youth to be gathered in one space and as a collective come up with inputs because this movement is for the youth, formed by the youth and influenced by the youth on the direction it wishes to take.”
He added that the Coalition has 7 working groups of which organisations and individuals are encouraged to join. One of the key campaigns the coalition through its partners aims to carry out is tackle the declining participation of youth in democratic processes, including participating in elections. The coalition aims to work with other organisations, movements, business and all stakeholders in society to register over a million young people to vote.
Speaking to some of the urgent and pressing issues,Tiny emphasized the need to call on the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to implement the Minimum Norms and Standards for public school infrastructure, “she must have a plan on how she will end overcrowding and the sanitary backlog in our public schools”.
Too many young people continue to suffer at the hands of a government that fails to execute its mandate and constitutional obligations.
“The sole purpose of NYC is to exist for young people, to create spaces and amplify their voices. We are having this press briefing here today, because the organizing of youth day many years ago happened in this building,” elaborated Van Wyk.
The vision of the National Youth Coalition is to build a progressive youth-led coalition that promotes the development of ethical and transformative young leaders who strive to ensure that all youth living in South Africa are empowered and supported in the attainment of their constitutional and human rights.
PLEASE DONATE TOWARDS JUSTICE AND CHANGE
On the 16th of June 2023, the National Youth Coalition will lead the Youth Day Parade for Justice and Change in Tshwane. A few thousand young people are preparing to attend and participate in the Parade and Festival that will commence at Burgers Park by 9am and end at the Union Buildings Park. Thereafter, a programme featuring artists, activists and civil society organizations will commence. For this day to be a success and for our collective voices to be heard, we kindly request donations. The donations will be used for transport, food and other logistics costs.In-kind donations are welcome.Your donations will make it possible for us to ignite and inspire a new generation of committed young activists to develop and execute a generational mission that aims to transform South Africa into one of prosperity, justice and equality. Click HERE to donate.
Issued by The National Youth Coalition, South Africa