OPINION: Where is the post-Peter Mokaba youth leadership in the ANC?

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The youth of the country need to be taught to be South African youth and accordingly behave like historical young people of South Africa. Rhetorical as it may sound, the current generation of South African youth are not behaving in tandem with the past young generations. For the purposes of this article, younger generation refers to political activists of the 80s, 90s and the millennium.

It is recorded that the youth of South Africa have, upon resolve, changed the cause of historical events. From the fearless young Tsietsi Mashinini, Ephraim Mogale and Solomon Mahlangu, to Nokhuthula Simelane and Peter Mokaba, young people in South Africa have always proved that a resolved generational mission is achievable. South African youth are known to have been politically impatient with deceit and lies, uninspired by mediocrity, intolerant of corruption, edgy and irritable when things don’t go right.

When former African National Congress (ANC) President, Oliver Tambo commanded the youth of the time through a message of the National Executive Committee (NEC) on the 73rd Anniversary of the ANC on 8 January 1985, which said they must render South Africa ungovernable, the message fell on a compliant generation. The highest form of nationalism and patriotism is being able to rise to defend the dignity of your people. For South African youth, the future should be now. There is no miracle that will happen to change the current sad state of affairs in South Africa.

This situation can only be changed by resolute and determined people, especially the younger ones. And, the sooner activists of the 80s, 90s and the millennium recognized their role in society, the better. Recent unemployment statistics that are approaching 40% did not seem to bother the most affected, young people. Instead, through their social media, young people were more worried about Lionel Messi’s move to Paris Saint-German, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Manchester United, Zodwa Wabantu’s nude videos and Khanyi Mbau’s relationships.

Why is unemployment not igniting the revolutionary conscience of the youths? This behaviour plays in the hands of the old and tired leadership of both the ANC and the Republic whose time has passed and must be replaced. Leadership change must happen in South Africa, and it must happen soon.

The leadership of youthful activists must emerge. Those that led with Peter Mokaba or the post-Kanyamazane Conference Youth League leadership must answer the clarion call for ethical and energetic leadership. The old people are tired and must retire. They make unforgivable mistakes daily without any consequences. They must not be stubborn because they were also elected into office at very young ages but have refused to leave the stage.

What more does Angie Motshekga, Lindiwe Sisulu, Naledi Pandor, Mathole Mosthekga, Gwede Mantashe and many others still want to do? President Cyril Ramaphosa was only 37 years old when he was elected Secretary-General of the ANC, whereas other earlier leaders of the movement were even younger. It is time to bow out.

World history is clear: JF Kennedy was 43 years old when he became president of the USA and Barack Obama was 47 years old. Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz is 33 years old; Sanna Marin, Finland Prime Minister is 34 years old; Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador is 39 years old; Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Costa Rica President, Carlos Alvarado Quesada are both 40 years old.

Meanwhile, Oleksiy Honcharuk became the youngest-ever Prime Minister of Ukraine at the age 35 in August 2019. Leo Varadkar was 38 years old when he became Ireland Prime Minister in 2017. France’s Emmanuel Macron is today 42 years old; while the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Youssef Chahed is 44 years old.

The point in pursuit is not about government positions the aforementioned hold, but the decisions they took to lead their people when change was necessary. Therefore when things don’t go well in a country, the question is where are the youths? They should be providing moral caution but are not. Their paralysis should worry any developing democratic state.

Rahohang masole…ntwa ea lwanwa!

By Teboho Magafane – Secretary General of Cosas