Young people ‘exploited in protests’

2012-06-16 13:08

Young people are exploited in service delivery protests because of their vulnerability, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane has said.

“We call on young people to resist this exploitation and focus on their education and uplifting their lives,” he said at a Youth Day event in Port Elizabeth today.

“You should play a significant role in uplifting your communities rather than destroying them through the violent protests we have witnessed in recent times.”

Chabane was speaking at a rally at Wolfson Stadium in Silvertown. He said today’s youth should honour the class of 1976 through words and positive deeds.

The 1976 Soweto uprising was a series of high school student-led protests.

Students from various schools in Soweto protested in the streets against the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium in schools.

About 20 000 students took part in the protest, and 176 people were killed.

“Yours as the current generation is to take those struggles forward, informed by the conditions of today,” said Chabane.

“There is no better way to confront your challenges than to confront them head on.”

Earlier, Silvertown residents embarked on a service delivery protest outside the stadium before Chabane’s speech.

The residents claimed they were not informed about the Youth Day event.

“The protesters told us that they were not properly consulted about the event and complained about the lack of service delivery,” said police spokesman Major Ernest Sigobe.

Police had to intervene to calm the crowd who had been burning tyres and barricading roads nearby.

“We explained to them that their protest was illegal and requested them to follow the right procedures to address their grievances,” said Sigobe. “Fortunately they listened and the situation returned to normal.”

Initially, President Jacob Zuma was to speak at the stadium but pulled out to attend the G20 meeting in Mexico, which starts tomorrow. Chabane replaced him.

Chabane’s spokesman Harold Maloka confirmed that Chabane had delivered his speech, but declined to comment on the protest.

During his address, Chabane told the crowd that government was aware that despite progress, many challenges remained for South Africa’s democracy.

Chabane highlighted the different programmes which created thousands of jobs for the youth through government departments, such as arts and culture, environmental affairs, tourism, and public enterprises.

“The national budget continues to support job creation, with a particular focus on unemployed youth.”

He said through the prioritisation of infrastructure development, government had already assisted in job creation.

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