Dear Mr President, We want to have a future!
We – the youth – have addressed this memorandum to you and to every public servant and official who administers the functions of our state and its institutions. We hope that you will receive this document in good faith and expect that our concerns will be addressed and acted upon timeously and with the vigour and impetus needed to truly transform our society into one which serves all who live in it.
As a broad coalition of young people who stand to inherit the society that you preside over, we have come forward to assert ourselves as legitimate stakeholders in the governance and development of South Africa. We are all people who believe in and desire a prosperous future for all persons within the borders of South Africa and we have come together on Youth Day 2022, holding the memory of 1976 closely, to demand that our voices be heard and that the society we wish to live in is not just envisioned, but built by those entrusted to lead and govern.
We – the youth – demand that government urgently and conclusively:
- Combat youth unemployment, gender-based violence, climate change, and crime;
- Put an end to all forms of racism, discrimination, and corruption;
- Create sustainable and meaningful job opportunities and safe environments for learning and development;
- Provide free and quality education, healthcare, and service
Our demands are clear, and although the solutions may be complex, we are adamant that the youth of South Africa must no longer be subjected to the hardships, insecurities, and injustices rooted in the intersecting crises of unemployment, violence, climate change, poor service delivery, spatial apartheid and wealth inequality, among other things.
As legitimate stakeholders in the governance and development of South Africa, we have put forward our vision and in doing so:
We – the youth – call on government to take the following steps and implement the following measures in order to make strides toward the building of the society we wish to live in:
Sustainable and Meaningful Jobs
We demand that the government develop and implement comprehensive and widespread policies to create an extensive number of ‘green and sustainable jobs’ which are designed to prevent and mitigate the impacts of climate change, overcome inequality and poverty, and provide livelihoods for all young persons and their families. We demand that:
• Green jobs are understood as forms of work that actively mitigate the effects of climate change and prevent added environmental harm.
• Sustainable and green jobs must equate to permanent and stable positions wherein people can grow their skills through being granted access to free and accredited educational courses as well as other opportunities for promotion and career development.
• Those employed in these jobs must receive a stable monthly income as characterised by a decent living wage and potential benefits such as housing and transport allowances.
- These jobs should not be designed to increase profit margins for any one individual or overarching entity. Rather, they must serve the public good.
- The nature, activities, and type of these green jobs must be deliberated and decided on through a period of extensive consultation with communities, youth, and other stakeholders as part of the just transition framework.
- In the planning and implementing the green jobs programme as well as other programmes for job creation, we expect that all ward councillors and municipal councils be mandated to host monthly youth consultations where they will provide regular updates to youth stakeholders whom these jobs are designed to benefit and where youth stakeholders can offer insight and input as to the design, nature, and type of these jobs that will aid in their community development.
- We demand that this period of consultation commence as a matter of urgency as we expect the green jobs programme and other sector specific programmes to be rolled out implemented in January 2023.
Consultation and Representation of and with Youth
We demand that monthly youth consultations be an ongoing feature with youth and their elected public servants/leaders and that this consultation be used to strengthen democracy and public participation on a range of issues within every ward nationwide. We demand that:
• These youth consultations must be used to engage with young people on how the government can work with its partners in other sectors to uplift and support the economic activities and aspirations of young people.
• The presidency and executive support local governments in carrying out the mandates given to them by youth actors within their own municipalities during these youth consultations. This includes making sure that financial resources and other forms of support are made accessible to under-capacitated municipalities, and for an accountability framework to be set up to monitor and evaluate its impact.
• All job creation and/or economic stimulation programmes to come out of this process prioritize meeting public needs and the aspirations of communities.
• Government works towards a policy framework that mandates adequate and fair representation of young people, as the majority stakeholder in the country, in positions of influence and authority within public office.
Universal Basic Income Guarantee (UBIG)
We demand that the Government immediately implement the well-researched monthly Universal Basic Income Guarantee (UBIG) of R1 500 to all qualifying persons between the ages of 18-59 with immediate effect. A UBIG must:
• Immediately be a set monthly payment of R1 500 to every unemployed adult between the ages of 18 and 59, including those earning below R60 000 per annum.
• Be given to all those who qualify and must not exclude anyone on the basis of race, gender, nationality, religion, or disability.
• Not replace any existing social grants, but rather must work alongside them.
• We demand government work toward being able to provide a UBIG universally to all persons.
As a public good, education must be made free for all, from pre-schools through to Institutions of Higher Learning. We demand:
• The immediate cancellation of student debt for unemployed graduates and all students who live below the poverty income threshold through a bailout by the state and the private sector.
• That government works with experts and youth stakeholders to effect radical changes to policy that is geared toward the realisation of free and quality education for all.
• That government invests significantly in the building of new public universities, colleges, residences, and libraries in order to help ensure that all young persons can be reasonably accommodated in institutions of higher learning.
• That government works with institutions of higher learning to develop interventions which assist with ensuring students and unemployed graduates have access to appropriate job opportunities and supplementary skills development programmes.
A lack of resources is not a justifiable reason for the government’s failure to provide access to quality basic education and to safeguard the wellbeing of school children. The right to quality basic education and safety in schools are immediately realisable rights. We demand:
• That government provides adequate funding to the basic education sector, ends austerity budgeting and eradicates irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
• Adequate and safe infrastructure for all schools that are conducive to learning and development.
• The urgent development and implementation of a comprehensive intervention programme to deal with the rise in bullying and aggressive behaviour amongst and between children.
• That those employed through the PYEI be capacitated with further training, mentorship and skills development opportunities that allow them to access more meaningful forms of work in the education sector, such that they can support programmes mentioned but not limited to those in this memorandum such as anti-bullying work, sports coaching, peer support, and reading, literacy/numeracy programmes.
• An immediate end to overcrowding in schools through proper planning and investment in quality educational facilities.
• That government effectively adhere to its commitment to provide school meals to all learners who qualify for meals under the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP).
• That all learners have full access to psycho-social support in schools.
• An end to corporal punishment and sexual violence in schools.
• A comprehensive anti-racism and anti-discrimination policy to be developed and adopted in all schools.
Gender-Based Violence & Femicide (GBVF)
Womxn and children in South Africa are continuously subjected to violence, abuse and inhumane treatment. We demand that the government deal with perpetrators of GBVF decisively and that strong preventative measures are developed. We demand:
• That the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill, the Criminal Related Matters Amendment Bill, and the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill are implemented such that they make a qualitative difference to lives of womxn, LGBTQI+ persons, and children in South Africa.
• That government works tirelessly to strengthen and improve the reporting of such crimes at police stations. Police officers must undergo extensive and ongoing training to ensure that victims/survivors are met with empathy and that they can be offered free psychological assistance for whatever period required by the individual.
• That government provides well-run centres for survivors with access to required services to deal with the trauma and provisions of resources for continued life. This includes ensuring that the existing Thuthuzela Care Centres’ resources are developed and vacant posts filled and that the centres be established as places of safety and care for all gender identities who are survivors of different forms of GBV.
• That government works with stakeholders and public interest law groups to explore a restructuring of the justice system to prioritise the wellbeing and safeguarding of the victim whilst also ensuring effectual repercussions for the perpetrator. This includes the prioritisation of the provision of legal aid to victims of GBVF including those who want to hold the state accountable for its failure to protect them from violence and those who have been subjected to lawsuits for publicly naming perpetrators.
• Publication of a national training schedule on GBVF and gender diversity for all relevant government departments including home affairs, social development, justice, safety and security, and health.
• Publication of a national training schedule on GBVF and gender diversity for all teachers, educators, and school staff from pre-schools through to senior phase in both the public and private sectors.
Violence and criminality in our society is rampant and is eroding the stability of our society. We demand:
• That government centre its crime prevention measures on garnering a clear understanding for the socie-economic roots of crime in South Africa.
• That government work tirelessly to meet the socio-economic needs of our people so that young persons do not resort to crime to make ends meet.
• That government work with youth and community stakeholders to develop context-specific frameworks geared toward more effective methods of crime prevention, monitoring and reporting within each community.
• That government deal harshly with drug cartels and drug lords who bring drugs into our communities.
• That young people have sufficient access to safe recreational facilities and areas for play and skills development as a means of preventing their induction into criminal networks.
• That all communities have sufficient access to police services and a dedicated police station that is well-capacitated by an adequate number of well-trained personnel and resources.
As per Section 27(1)(b) of The Constitution, everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water. We hold that this right is not being adequately upheld in South Africa. We demand:
• Government makes significant investments in small-scale, agroecological methods of farming.
• Government protects and upholds the ability of communities to build their own food systems in a way that is meaningfully alleviating hunger in the long term.
• Government ensures that food corporations take a bigger responsibility for hunger in South Africa, and implement more people-centered policies.
• That government works with the largest food corporations to keep basic food prices at an affordable rate for all.
Healthcare, Housing, Sanitation, and Service Delivery
The lack of adequate access to sanitation, service delivery, and primary health care services erodes the fabric of our society and denies our people access to a decent quality of life. We demand that:
• Government invests significantly in widespread and far-reaching public infrastructure development in order to ensure that all persons within the borders of South Africa have adequate access to safe, secure, and well-maintained shelter, running water, electricity, refuse removal, roads, sanitation/sewerage, and health care facilities.
• Government reassesses its housing programmes to effectively deliver adequate housing to all qualifying persons – with a specific focus on supporting young people.
• Government must develop better functioning monitoring systems to ensure that the relevant state departments are, at all times, fully aware of damaged and eroded public infrastructure and service delivery shortcomings and are able to swiftly respond to fixing them.
• Government invests in building and growing its own capacity in order to ensure that its various departments are able to attend to a widespread and far-reaching public infrastructure development and service delivery initiative and that they can resolve all incidents and reports of damaged and ill-maintained public infrastructure and service delivery shortcomings efficiently and timeously.
• Xenophobic and unlawful practices in our public health system be uprooted and replaced with policy and practice that is in line with the National Health Act, as well as Sections 27(1)(a), 27(3), and 28(1)(c) of the Constitution.
• Government ensure that the Department of Health uphold its obligations under the Constitution and international human rights instruments, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights of the Child – which stipulate that every child has a right to birth registration.
• Government increase access to, and information on, sexual and reproductive health services.
• Government designate more facilities to provide first and second-trimester abortions.
In South Africa, many persons who menstruate do not have adequate access to the menstrual health products that they need. We demand:
• That government acts upon the Sanitary Dignity Framework and allocates a significant budget to ensure that menstrual health products are freely accessible in all schools and in public spaces.
• That government works toward the creation of capabilities and facilities that will enable it to produce a range of quality menstrual health products for public use instead of continuously having to purchase them from private producers.
Climate Justice and A Deep Just Transition
South Africa is at a breaking point. The climate crisis is not a future issue, but an existential crisis we are experiencing now. We demand:
• That government make serious commitments to a just transition from a fossil fuel-intensive economy to a renewable energy powered economy in an equitable way that leaves no industry workers nor community members and community stakeholders behind.
• That government urgently review and democratically implements policies in South Africa that will effectively ban corporations, mining houses and financial institutions from new funding to fossil fuel projects.
• That government make ambitious commitments to emission reductions and ensure that the country takes global agreements seriously. Limiting heating to 1.5 degrees must be made a priority and accountability measures for policy implementation must be enforced, to reach South Africa’s 2030 targets across all departments.
• That government develop and adequately manage a climate change impact fund, funded by historical polluters, that can be used to fund just recoveries, that prioritise meeting the needs of the worst affected and ensure that poor and marginalised groups are not burdened in the process of meeting recovery requirements, when disasters hit.
• Prioritise climate education, awareness raising, and stakeholder consultation to ensure that the most vulnerable are not left out of climate related discussions and actions.
• Develop frameworks which support women, young people, and people with disabilities, who bear the brunt of climate impacts due to the intersectional nature of our crises.
• That both the South African Youth Climate Action Plan and Climate Justice Charter be urgently tabled by the government and that action is taken on the points put forward by each document with great urgency and impetus.
Rampant corruption and the looting and misuse of state funds rubbishes development and has undoubtedly placed a price tag on all of our futures. We demand:
• That whistleblowers are protected by the government at all costs and that the government prioritises the establishment of an independent whistleblower institution.
• A decisive end to corruption in all development programmes.
• That government ensures that there are frequent checks on municipal budgets and how they are spent and that these are made readily available to the public for accountability purposes.
• That the NPA is capacitated with the resources and staff needed to act swiftly against in prosecuting those found guilty of corruption and the looting of public finances.
• That public systems for monitoring and reporting unethical and corrupt practices of public servants are developed and rolled out urgently.
• That public servants have access to safe and secure processes of reporting corrupt and unethical practices of their peers and that all public servants undergo additional training on how to safely report the corrupt and unethical practices of their peers.
Xenophobia, Afrophobia, Racism and Related Prejudices
Over the last two decades, there has been a proliferation of xenophobic prejudice and a rise in xenophobic sentiment at all levels of South African society. We demand that:
• Government takes immediate action to implement and enforce the measures set out in the National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
• Government takes immediate action to enforce the law in response to incidents of hate speech and hate crimes against citizens and non-citizens alike.
• Government takes immediate action to address the root causes of conflict and instability on the continent and desist from the dangerous scapegoating of migrants.
• Government ensures the immediate cessation of all policies and laws that unjustifiably discriminate against non-citizens.
• Government publicises a mandatory training schedule for all South African Police Service members, Immigration Officers, Home Affairs Officials, and Judges on refugee and immigration law.
Given the increased insecurity and instability of our world as well as the multitude of pressures and hardships that young people face in our society, it has become clear that the psychological and mental well-being of young people is under threat. We demand:
• That government creates better well-being ecosystems in communities that have adequate access to mental health professionals.
• Government must work with experts in the field to develop a zero-rated digital platform that gives all people access to free professional psychological and mental health related services.
• Government must publish a mandatory psychological and mental health sensitivity training schedule for teachers, police officers and all other public servants and administrators.
• Government must ensure that all schools are adequately capacitated so that all learners have direct access to professional and well-trained psychological and mental health practitioners.
In understanding the weight of our demands and the importance to seriously work toward a collective vision for a better and more just future, it is worth listing all the partners who have united behind the progressive agenda put forward herein.
The partners who have formally endorsed and partaken in the Youth Day Parade for Justice and Change and the development of this memorandum are as follows:
- The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
- Lawyers for Human Rights
- Centre for Applied Legal Studies
- Keep Left
- Accountability Lab
- Trinity Arts Alive
- Voice of the People
- Kindle Knight Movement
- Equal Education
- Project 90 by 2030
- Zero Dropout Campaign
- Waterberg Women Advocacy Organisation
- Power of Women and Children
- Dube Community Watch
- Auwal Social Research Institute
- Team Free Sanitary Pads
- Activating Youth Activism
- Corruption Watch
- Muslim Student Association Union
- Project O
- Show Me Your Number
- Youth Policy Committee
- SA Youth Climate Action Plan
- Studio Sketch
- Matibe Malinga Foundation
- Marikana Youth Development
- South African Independent Human Rights Advocacy Group
- Inkombozi Development
- PSYSSA Student Division
- Women of Waqf
- Drink Pink
- Bukhobami Youth Centre
- #PayTheGrants Campaign
- African Climate Reality Project
- Koponang Africa Against Xenophobia
- Right to Protest
- Right to Know
- Women in Need Organisation
- Defend Our Democracy Campaign
- Legal Resources Centre
- Asylum Seeker Refugee and Migrant Coalition
- Open Dialogue
- Climate Justice Charter Movement
- Voice of Justice
- Friday’s for Future
- Housing Assembly
- My CA Hub
- 982 Youth Circles
- Amani INKD
- Young Catalyst
- Palestine Solidarity Alliance
- Azania 27
- Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund
- Xtinction Rebellion
- Fight Inequality Alliance South Africa
- Nyolohelo Justice and Peace Commission
- Youth Must Rise
- Ed Tech Bridges
- Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa
- Global Citizen
- Jiss Centre
- 350 Africa.org
- Leratong Advice Center
- Sisonke Revolutionary Movement
- Assembly of the Unemployed
- Engage South Africa – my.voice
- Anti-Racism Network of South Africa
- Mining Affected Communities United in Action
- iSeluleko Youth Development Forum
- Market Users Committee
- African Climate Alliance
- Project Youth South Africa
- Muslim Youth Movement
- Movement for Care
- Provide as Praxis
- People’s Assembly
- Virginia Concern Community
- Amnesty International South Africa
- Soul City Institute
- Ogaden Youth and Student Union
- Project Potential
- The Menstrual Project
- Khulumani Support Group
- My Vote Counts
- Africa Matters Initiative
- Equal Education Law Centre
- WAIII PTY LTD
- Muslimahs Making A Difference
- Sinako We Can
- Bukhobami Youth Centre