Saturday, July 4, 2009

Malema: Zuma owes youth

June 17 2009

President Jacob Zuma has told the youth that improving their lives was "a two-way street" and not just a government responsibility - while ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema reminded him that the youth's votes were "not cheap".

Speaking at the main Youth Day rally in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, on Tuesday, Zuma said while the government was doing its best to improve the conditions of the youth, it was also the responsibility of young people to participate - "it is not a one-way street".

Zuma said it was his government's responsibility "to create an environment where our young people can extricate themselves from poverty and build successful lives".

"On this day, we reaffirm that we have heard the voices of youth in distress. We are aware of unemployed youths, those in conflict with the law, those in abject poverty and those who seek assistance in our townships and rural villages."

Malema said many young people who voted for the ANC were still staying in informal settlements and were unemployed.

"We voted for President Zuma. We say to the president: We no longer want squatter camps. We want houses which have water and electricity. We say to President Zuma: Our votes were not cheap, they were expensive.

"He must pay us by giving us free education... By giving us quality jobs... we mean proper salaries and better working conditions."

Malema said half the 500 000 jobs Zuma promised should be given to young people.

Civil servants - especially doctors, teachers and police - should be paid better. "Our doctors, who go to schools for many years, are paid less than a receptionist at a municipal council. Teachers should not use their salaries to abuse alcohol...

"Once police are paid properly, they will no longer accept (bribes)," Malema said.

He also cautioned against sleeping around, saying youths should stick to the league's policy of "one boyfriend, one girlfriend".

Malema warned the newly formed National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to "open doors for young people".

The agency - an amalgamation of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund and National Youth Commission - came under intense scrutiny from Malema, Zuma and the DA.

Malema called the agency's predecessors "useless" and said they "served friends, boyfriends and girlfriends of those who occupied positions".

They didn't want the agency's offices in Midrand, as most of the youths stayed in the townships.

Zuma said the agency had a lot of work to do, having to develop an integrated youth development plan and strategy without delay.

DA leader Helen Zille said it seemed the agency was set to repeat the mistakes of its predecessors - "it was a fundamental mistake to elevate the deputy president of the (ANC) Youth League, Andile Lungisa, to chair of the NYDA".

"This immediately positions the organisation as a partisan political structure, rather than an organisation committed to the development of all young people.

"It is a matter of concern that staff of the failed Youth Commissions and Umsobomvu Fund will now be employed by the NYDA. If they failed before, why should they succeed now? said Zille.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on June 17, 2009