We failed the youth

2014-02-25 10:00

The enemy is the corruption that eats into our societal fabric and holds your futures and those of your children to ransom.

When I launched Agang SA, I said that we, as the older generation, had to apologise to you, the younger generation, for letting you down in the past 20 years. In the past three weeks, you witnessed first-hand how we adults let you down again.

First, we allowed the country to be sacrificed at the altar of party political agendas and egos.

Second, in the past week we used you as pawns to take the battles of political opinion on to the streets as physical battles, placing you in the line of fire, getting you arrested, placing your futures at jeopardy while we got off scot-free, put on tailored suits and gowns and walked on the red carpet as if nothing had happened.

I sincerely apologise for my part in it.

I am painfully aware of the deep disappointment many of you feel.

I am aware of the hurt and pain this has brought up.

Your tweets and comments over the past weeks have highlighted how you have been looking up to us.

Your letters have revealed how our recent actions opened up old wounds that may take months or years to heal.

You did not deserve this.

In all this, perhaps the greatest tragedy is that our actions have caused you to take your eyes off the common goal of ending corruption and restoring the promise of freedom.

It led you to look at one another as enemies as though you were on different sides of the fence while, in reality, you are all on the same side of the fence, collectively bearing the brunt of unemployment, inequality and corruption irrespective of your racial grouping or party affiliation.

None of you from Agang SA, the ANC or DA are the enemy?–?the battle to secure prosperous futures for yourselves does not lie in gouging one another’s eyes out.

The enemy is the corruption that eats into our societal fabric and holds your futures and those of your children to ransom.

Every unit of energy you expend in fighting one another instead of fighting injustice and corruption is a unit of energy wasted when our eyes should be focused on putting the country first.

Now is not the time for any of you to pick up arms against one another.

Our country is burning?...?What we see are the results of failed governance and accountability and a failure on our parts as the older generation to listen to you.

As a result of this you, the younger generation, have felt that you have limited options left other than to take to the streets in protest?– sometimes at the cost of your own lives.

Starting Agang SA has given me the opportunity to work with and learn from many dedicated, passionate and honourable citizens.

It has reminded me that leaders come in all shapes, sizes and ages. It confirms our initial vision of a political party made up of leaders instead of passive followers.

Through Agang I have the opportunity to see first hand the boundless energy and potential of the young people of this nation from every corner and every racial and cultural grouping.

We have always said we are in the business of building – turning on one another is not going to build our country to ensure that the fruits of freedom reach the furthest corners.

You have witnessed a tumultuous few weeks in our country’s democracy. We, the older generation, let you down.

The question now is: What have you learnt?

Will you continue to stand back and allow us to make a mess of your legacies or will you step up in the colours of your party and ensure that the mistakes of the past three weeks and the past 20 years are never repeated again?

This freedom, this democracy you enjoy is not inherited from our generation, you are borrowing it from your children’s generation.

The question now is how you will look after it so that when they take possession of it they will thank you instead of cursing you.

I love you and I’m jealous to see you living in the fullness of freedom that was so hard won. Don’t let yourselves down, don’t let future generations down.

As we look towards May 7, I am committed to ensuring that whatever the challenges we may have to face, we overcome them and finish strong.

Drawing from personal experience, I have dedicated my life to being a bridge-builder between the divides that keep us apart.

I remain dedicated to building that bridge, particularly for you as the youth to take up your rightful positions in the driving seat of our nation’s future.

Ramphele is the leader of Agang SA

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