South African youth are constantly reminded that they have much to be appreciative of. Being born into a free country, abundant opportunities, quality education, a promising future and growing up in an non sexist, no racial and inconclusive South Africa. If so why is it that most young people I come across so despondent, unmotivated and doubtful of the direction the country is currently on and ever getting their share of the “South African dream?
Twitter was a buzz after US president Barack Obama managed to secure a second term in office beating Republican challenger Mitt Romney in what many pundits refer to as “one of the hotly contested elections in history.” While many were nothing but pleased of this result, it was a bittersweet result for many South Africans who hope for an inspirational leader such as the US president.
Why not us…?
When Obama was giving his victory speech one of my colleagues said “why can’t President Jacob Zuma be like that when he gives a speech? America has problems yes but this man gives you hope that his administration will do much to tackle them.” Another tweeted “Zuma congratulated Obama on his win but was relieved Romney didn’t win because it would have meant him (Zuma) handing over his Worst President Title to the Republican challenger.”
These tongue-in- cheek tweets no matter how playful and sarcastic one might regard them, are a clear indication that most of SA’s youth is despondent with little confidence in our government’s ability to tackle the massive challenges South Africa is confronted with.
President Jacob Zuma last week criticised many for what he called “misguided pessimism” about South Africa and if they did not stop it would bring the country down. Zuma went on to say that his administration had done much in improving many South African’s lives (Nkandla does not count Mr President). The general feeling is that while issues such as Marikana massacre, wildcat mining strikes, increasing unemployment, depilating education system and persisting inequalities the presidency seems more concerned about building bunkers in Nkandla rather than attending to challenges that SA is embattled with.
Mangaug is not the answer…
The African National Congress elective conference takes place next month where delegates will decide if they support Zuma for a second term (sadly it seems likely) or his reluctant deputy Kgalema Motlanthe will succeed him to the highest office in the land.
Whatever the outcome is many are not confident that this will bring about real change in the way that government deals (or doesn’t) with the countries issues. Graduates are without jobs, poverty is still rife, job creation is stagnant with the middle class complaining that rising costs are making it hard for them to make ends meet. Judging from the wildcat strikes labour union Cosatu has emerged as a hypocritical organisation which lambasts government corruption but still pulled its weight behind Zuma to get another term.
The ANC has a tough road ahead as more and more young people are becoming less patient with the slow pace things seem to be moving for them. The ANCYL was one of Zuma’s loudest supporters at the last elective conference in Polokwane but even they have voiced their dissatisfaction with the current leadership. Julius Malema and co have gone from being prepared to kill for Zuma to cataloguing as the worst president SA has ever produced.
Zuma has an enormous task awaiting him if he is re-elected for a second term as South Africa’s president. With young people struggling to penetrate the job market, education hanging in the balance (WEF ranks us among the worst) and rising living costs the “South African dream” is slowly turning into a pipe dream for many youngsters.
Find me on twitter @BongaDlulane.