Unedited views by Mzwandile Thakhudi and Mabuse Mpe
Background and Ideological foundation.
There is an ongoing discourse among activists regarding the description and context of MotjhaPalong. This contribution seeks to conduct an analysis and advance a perspective on the subject matter; to enrich the ongoing dialogue and to avert the vulgarization of the discussion by condemning it to ageism of ‘us’ and ‘them’. The strategic objectives of the NDR seeks to achieve a non-racial, non-sexist, united, democratic and importantly a prosperous society and the youth is determined to attain these objectives.
The analysis of the objective reality we’re confronted with in this epoch is that the youth constitutes a greater chunk of our population and feel the greatest brunt of the triple challenges entangling our South African society and economy, (i.e.) abject poverty, mass unemployment and underemployment as well as ever diverging inequality.MotjhaPalong is a tactical response to the systemic exclusion of young people in decision making forums and a symbol for representation sought by the youth to champion youth interests in governance, business, society and all other key sites of struggle in an attempt to fight for the mainstreaming of youth development.MotjhaPalong reinforces generational mix and lives up to the slogan which has a historical context: Nothing for us, without us!
The emergence of colonialism, capitalism and apartheid in South Africa has exposed young people to adversarial political, social, cultural and economic conditions which define their existence.Chairman Mao talking to the youth, argued that “the world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. Young people, full of vigour and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning…”. This assertion on the life expectancy on its own bestows unto the youth a responsibility to strive to develop itself as a political force to promote the interests of young people in the struggle to deepen, advance, to defend and ultimately complete the national democratic revolution, which represents the shortest, most suitable and direct route to socialism. The youth as a strata is an imperative motive force that must consolidate this struggle and subsequently stand to benefit from its triumph.
How should we judge whether a youth is a revolutionary? How can we tell? There can only be one criterion, namely, whether or not he is willing to integrate himself with the broad masses of workers and peasants and does so in practice. If he is willing to do so and actually does so, he is a revolutionary; otherwise he is a nonrevolutionary or a counter revolutionary. If today he integrates himself with the masses of workers and peasants, then today he is a revolutionary; if tomorrow he ceases to do so or turns round to oppress the common people, then he becomes a nonrevolutionary or a counterrevolutionary, Chairman Mao postulating on the character of youth being revolutionary, non or counter revolutionary in the course of struggle for fundamental change in society that should yield about social justice, social cohesion and social transformation, economic prosperity and national sovereignty and self-determination against colonialism and apartheid capitalism is affirmation that while youth is a strata, it may be revolutionary or counter revolutionary depending on its conduct.
Motjhapalong, generational transition and Generational Mix.
In history of hitherto all societies, the youth has had sizeable representation and thus qualifying the mantra that the revolution is the activity of the youth. We can cite a variety of examples of activists and revolutionary theoreticians who would have gotten an opportunity to serve in their youthful years, suffice to say the generational mix is a long standing practice in the movement; Karl Marx was 30 years when he co-authored the Communist Manifesto in 1848. While this is the case, there is sufficient appreciation in our ranks of the sacrifices, service, experience and wisdom of the elderly cadreship and citizenry which we stand to learn and benefit from as the younger generations.The value they added over time to the struggle for liberation and emancipation in various ways is immeasurable and much appreciated.
Many in our rank and file have perpetually advanced for the founding of structures such as the eldership, council of elders or advisory councils aimed at preserving the discipline, customs and traditions of our revolutionary liberation movement. There is ought to be a generational transition and respectful persuasion among the different generations. This will assist the movement greatly in ensuring that the principles of self and constructive criticism, collectivism, revolutionary modesty and morality are conserved. This will enable the advancement of our struggle in perpetual succession until its logical conclusion. It is in this context that our youth wings are referred to as preparatory schools, they are purposed to nurture, to train and graduate cadreship for the movement. They can only justify their existence by performing the task at hand when they can also produce governors/public representatives, public sector managers etc. It also unravels our weaknesses in terms of succession management which historically was undertaken by way of mentorship.
Youth development and underdevelopment.
Youth development is an integral part of human and societal development. That is, when you develop the youth, you develop humanity. There cannot be national emancipation without youth development. However, the state of youth underdevelopment is appalling, youth poverty is widespread and youth unemployment is abject and there is an ever diverging income inequality among youth. On the other hand, we observe conspicuous consumption by children of the politically connected elites, corruption, cronyism and neoliberal austerity measures that impacts negatively largely on the youth that cannot afford primary health care facilities, education and security service. The number of young people who are economically demobilized, demoralized and discouraged to seek work are skyrocketing. The youth unemployment is above the 70 percent mark in the first quarter of 2021.
The numbers of youths Not in Education, Employment or Training increases annually. High levels of university students drop out informed by financial and academic exclusion is among the youth. Graduate unemployment is more prevalent among the youth due the requirement of experienceand recognition of prior learning provisions. The numbers of young workers who are retrenched by the private sector on the basis of the Last In First Out principle are on an upward slope. This shows the systematic exclusion and discrimination of young people on the basis of age. This has immensely alienated the youth from the movement. They’ve sort of lost confidence considering that they do not rely on struggle credentials but deliverables and practical change of sustainable livelihood. This has impacted adversely on their electoral participation (that they abstain from voting) and made them more vulnerable,volatile and a fertile recruitment ground for populists movements who will easily mobilize them for participation in illegal community unrests.
It is for this reason and many others that the youth have followed the wise counsel of Frantz Fanon who advanced that each generation must, out of relative obscurity, identify its own mission, choose whether to fulfil or betray it. This generation, having identified its mission for economic emancipation and freedom in our life time“ now employs MotjhaPalong as a tactic to revive, renew and reposition the movement and ready it to achieve the strategic objectives in the benefit of all, arising from a concreteanalysis that the society and the NDR is in interregnum.
Youth Dividend: a problem and a solution at the same time!
It is common course that the youth population grows at a more rapid rate than the adult population. The cohort of population growth among youth if harnessed adequately and supported, it can provide new socio economic opportunities due to their innovation and energy that could result in the youth dividend for society. However, if ignored, may provide fertile ground for the youth burden on the state and society. If the youth is not skilled properly and imbued with marketable skills that would enhance their productivity in the labour market, they would be a burden on the state in that they will be reliant on the state social security net and the public health care facilities and supplies as opposed to when they could be skilled and productive and able to contribute to the tax base of the country.
Having a population that is youthful is considered to be a positive feature for any nation in that it can unlock potential for growth and development. There is evidence world over that corroborates that it is the youth who are most risk takers, innovative and engage in entrepreneurial activity. It is new entrants in the economy who are most likely to stimulate productivity and thus improving the GDP and demand by buying as opposed to the elderly who tend to save their earnings. This normally improves the standard of living of the people and ultimately their standing when observed using the Human Development Index that looks at the skills, per capita income among other issues. This is justification that, youth development is a cornerstone for Human development.
In conclusion, it is evident and undisputable that the youth experience the highest levels of marginalization and social dislocation in the socio-economic system and recognize it as unresponsive to their aspirations and ambitions. This marginalization and dislocation places the youth at high risk for anti-social behaviour like criminal activity, unsafe sexual practices, drug abuse, gangsterism that could be seen as an easy way out. This exacerbates the challenges we have of mental health problems among the youth.
By Motjhapalong, we are beginning to witness the consolidation of a meaningful student movement and the emergence of a transformative youth agenda. The youth has begun articulating and channelling their energy and interest towards constructive arenas for engaging in meaningful social transformation. The youth is a critical body of opinion in the liberation movement. The youth are there to agitate and remind elderly that access to political power is not an end on its own but a means to transform society for the betterment of the lives of the toiling masses and the downtrodden masses of our people.
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