Freedom Day Reflections
By Dr Stanley Maphosa, NMCF Chief Programmes Officer
Freedom Day celebrates and commemorates the first democratic elections that were held in South Africa on 27 April 1994. These elections were the first post-apartheid national elections that were held in South Africa where anyone could vote regardless of race. Although the country has made remarkable progress since 1994, the triple challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment the most glaring impediments to the country’s goal of national unity and social cohesion. The commemoration comes at a time when about 65.5 % youths are unemployed. With challenges in Mathematics and Science in schools, there is a systematic exclusion of youths in the jobs of today and of tomorrow. While youths are encouraged to start entrepreneurship initiatives and businesses, there is a general lack of support for capital and sustainability of those businesses. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, various jobs and businesses that were started by youth have been affected.
The South African politics needs to be youthful. The participation of youth in decision making will enable young people to take charge of their lives as key agents of social and economic transformation. Participation is beyond just attending rallies, conferences and events but youth being centred and mainstreamed in all decisions of society. Besides the youth, the Fund works to improve child mortality and curb crimes committed towards children. The death of children before they reach the age of 5 continues to happen in various districts in the country. This happens despite the great policies in place. There is still sexual gender based violence towards children, corporal punishment in schools and bullying that is rife. All these issues affecting children and youth need to be addressed by all the members of society for a better future of this country.
We dare not forget the terrible past from which we have come and educate the children and youths as we commemorate this day. We also remember the many sacrifices that were made by various patriots including youths to ensure the democracy and freedom we enjoy. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund has the history, legacy and voice to continue to remind society to treat change the way it treats its children and youth as we move to 29 years of independence in 2023.
4/28/2022 04:08:58 am
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