It was 42 years ago, on 16th June 1976, when courageous young people rejected an educational system designed to restrict the intellectual development of Africans
The apartheid government’s move to make Afrikaans the compulsory medium of instruction at African schools ignited the Soweto student protest on 16 June 1976. Its draconian reaction – with gunfire and teargas – forced the world to take notice and act against a government prepared to kill even children so it could enforce its racially discriminatory minority rule.
With their heroic open defiance, the generation of '76 intensified the revolutionary journey towards constitutional democracy – based on values of human dignity, achievement of equality, advancement of human rights and freedoms, a Parliament representing the people and government by the people.
Today, we pay tribute to that courageous ‘76 generation of young South Africans for their immense contribution to our struggle for democracy.
It is also a time to reflect on what our democracy must still do to realise the aspirations and unleash the full potential of young South Africans – who constitute a significant majority of our population. Indeed, our country has a unique opportunity to harness the youthful energy of its population to build an inclusive economy, create much-needed jobs and end inequality and poverty.
As the national legislative authority, Parliament continues to ensure government of the people under the Constitution by providing a national forum for public consideration of issues, passing legislation and overseeing executive action to ensure the realisation of, amongst others things, the National Development Plan. Through the assessment and review of key legislation exercise conducted recently, Parliament will ensure that it accelerates change to radically better the quality of life of all South Africans.
Young people are the future and must take active interest in the legislative and other processes of Parliament, such as, the current process on the review of section 25 of the Constitution. Parliament has mandated its Joint Constitutional Review Committee to investigate possible amendments to section 25 of the Constitution, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation. The committee is going to be holding public hearings in all nine provinces.
This year we also celebrate the centenary birthdays of former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Ms Albertina Sisulu, prominent and steadfast leaders of our struggle for democracy. We must learn from the principles by which they lived to enrich our efforts to realise, fully, the society envisioned in our Constitution. Tackling the blights of poverty, unemployment and inequality still troubling so many of our people needs unity of purpose from all of us.
THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA