The developments that led to the recall and subsequent resignation of President Thabo Mbeki have been a matter of national debate and the youth have been compelled to speak out.
The developments that led to the recall and subsequent resignation of President Thabo Mbeki have been a matter of national debate and the youth have been compelled to speak out. The youth have been criticised for remaining silent on pertinent political issues but as student leaders representing Rhodes students, as well as members of the general youth of South Africa, we feel we must voice our views.
We are concerned that our system of governance has been compromised and the effective running of our public governance structures have been reduced to party factionalism. Our sentiments arise from the ruling party’s failure to provide good leadership when most needed.
The resignation of 11 ministers who formed part of the national cabinet continues remains a point of concern as it leaves us uncertain about the future of our country, despite assurances by President Kgalema Mothlanthe to the contrary.
Our leadership crisis has not only been manifested in recent events. Our concerns encompass issues from over the years, including government’s delayed response to HIV/Aids, the frequency of sexual and gender based violence and the rise in hate-crimes. Government has given little meaningful response to these issues when it is duty-bound to protect the weak and vulnerable.
The youth claim that they are under-represented in public discourse, especially when it comes to shaping the future of our land. But we remain silent and despondent when those who claim to represent us use violent imagery in our name to imply particular attitudes that run counter to our views. We condemn all violent utterances against our constitutional order due to our mired past of threats, hate speech and violent imagery.
In a free and democratic society, views opposed to the dominant discourse should be able to come to the forefront and be protected. It is concerning to note that there is no student voice that differs with the dominant political view. It is in that regard that we ask: where is the voice that represents the concerns of students and the voice of the youth?
It is high time that we critically engage our leadership more vocally and visibly, with the youth forming part of the solution instead of remaining despondent and silent. We need to bring our sentiments into the public domain and vote consciously. We need to engage in public debate around social issues and to rise to the legacy of our forebears who paved the way forward to a nation founded upon the principles of justice, democracy, equality and human dignity.