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Minister: Lindiwe Zulu
Deputy Minister: Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu
Deputy Minister
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Address by the Minister of Social Development, Dr Zola Skweyiya, on the occassion of the National Launch of the Masupatsela Youth Pioneer Programme, Mbombela Municipality, Mpumalanga Province, 24 October 2008 Print E-mail
Monday, 27 October 2008

Your Excellencies the chiefs and traditional leaders,

Honourable Deputy Minister for Home Affairs: Cde. Malusi Gigaba,

Members of the Executive Council from the provinces of the Republic,

Executive Mayor of the Mbombela Municipality,

Honourable religious leaders and leaders of various congregations,


The Director General and officials from all the spheres of our government,

Honourable guests,

Youth of South Africa,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is a great honour to join you at the sunset of this year’s Social Development Month in order to launch a long overdue programme which aims at revitalising the spirit of youth activism and patriotism in our nation.  This god given moment is, in my view, only paralleled by the 1944 founding of the African National Congress Youth League.  In recognising the important role played by young people in the development of any nation the founding fathers of the League noted that: The AFRICAN, regards the Universe as one composite whole; an organic entity, progressively driving towards greater harmony and unity whose individual parts exist, merely as interdependent aspects of one whole, realising their fullest life in the corporate life where communal contentment is the absolute measure of value…His philosophy of life strives towards unity and aggregation; towards greater social responsibilities.” 

For us the formation of the Congress’s Youth League marked the rise of a new and redefined generation of African leadership.  For the League’s founding fathers and mothers youth emancipation had no political and country boundaries.  For them African unity in action was paramount.  

These youthful fore bearers enamoured with the vision of a new South Africa as embodied in the Freedom Charter made great sacrifices.  These young men and women took on the responsibility of liberating our society with no regard to personal price and no promise of individual reward. 

Today we gather, to emulate and take forward that gallant spirit of the previous youth generations.  Sadly, we gather during a troubled phase in the life of our nation.  We gather at a time when some young people fail to place due recognition to the fact that our hard earned freedom comes with enormous responsibility.  For instance with the right to free speech, comes the responsibility of tempering one’s statements.  These and other rights seem to have been marked more by their derision in recent times.  As public office bearers we must remain ever so aware that we occupy office at the behest of the people we serve. 

Such responsibilities require us to get back to the basics and reconfigure our society into a more caring society.  The building of such a caring society also requires an active citizenry in general, and a vibrant and committed youth in particular.  Such a youth “must carry out their responsibilities in a manner befitting the pioneer role in which history has thrust them”.  

Judging from the million expressions of interest and over 500 thousand applications to participate in this programme we have no doubt that the youth of today are willing to step up to the plate.  This is so despite the challenges confronting young people.  These challenges have also led to some young people resorting to vices which have resulted in an increased school drop out rate, soaring teenage pregnancy rates, as well as an increase in alcohol and substance abuse.  This is compounded by the high levels of unemployment and poverty that continue to bedevil our nation.  These challenges are not unique to the youth of South Africa but permeate most the world’s societies.  Given these global similarities and unbreakable bonds between the people of Africa and Latin America we found inspiration for this programme in the Republic of Cuba. 

We also took inspiration, for this programme from the original Masupatsela which was initiated by Duma Nokwe under the guidance of the late Kate Molale.  Mama Kate Molale is a well known activist of the struggle and a former secretary of the Sophia town ANC branch.  She played an important role in organising the pioneer organisation in Sophia town and in exile.  She is also well known for giving instructions in the big rallies to the Masupatsela.  The Masupatsela also played an important role of managing the crowd as marshals, bringing water to the thirsty as well as assisting the frail and elderly.  Indeed, through their resolute struggles, preparedness to sacrifice and determination to serve our people, they set the example that we strive to emulate.  

Ladies and gentlemen, the spirit of Masupatsela is as old as our culture and customs; hence we cannot afford to abandon it now.  I am happy to tell you that part of your curriculum will teach you more on our cultural heritage and the history of the Masupatsela.  The curriculum will also train and empower young people to serve to the best of their ability whilst also deepening their understanding of the social transformation processes in South Africa.  In summary this first crop of 1 746 Masupatsela, from the 7 piloting Provinces accompanied by their MECs, are our frontline in our war against poverty and vulnerability. These cadres are our youth agents for change!! 

The Masupatsela Youth development programme is a Department of Social Development facilitated initiative, which will recruit, train and absorb unemployed and out of school youth of South Africa.  The youth will be recruited from and will serve in their local communities.  Through this programme we will also seek to address the challenges facing South Africa’s youthful population by utilising them as development resources.  IN so doing we will reverse the effects of immense poverty, vulnerability, and high unemployment. 

The national and provincial Departments of Social Development are tasked with coordinating and implementing this programme.  The focus area of work, in this first phase of this programme, is within the scope of social development sphere.  The key responsibilities for the Masupatsela will include auxiliary social work services, community development, and early childhood development. Upon  the end of the programme the youth will have employment, bursary, and entrepreneurship opportunities  It is our hope that this programme will, in the medium term focus on the broad social and economic sectors. Programme director, our efforts here today mark the creation of a new generation of young leaders.  History has shown time and again that societies are made or broken by the few individuals who lead them.  These individuals - the leaders of society - determine the path of history.  The quality of leadership is fundamental to the development of any nation.  Once our leadership is true, our country can progress in leaps and bounds.  With good leadership in place, we can finally get on with the job of development.  South Africa has been blessed to have had an abundance of quality leadership from Nelson Mandela to the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  It is important that we sustain this quality leadership.   

The answer to this can be found in the essence of the Masupatsela Youth Pioneer Programme which will develop a new breed of leaders who are in touch with the needs of the communities they serve.  These youth will become pioneers and social activists for change.  We have reached a turning point in our country’s history.  It is vital that we seize the moment and develop the Masupatsela of the future, so that the youth of today may guide our country to a brighter future. 

The founding youth of 1944, and subsequent youth formations, placed its services at the disposal of the national liberation movement and all global progressive forces.  They were motivated by the firm belief, knowledge and conviction that the cause of Africa must and will triumph.  It is incumbent on the youth of today to carry forward that legacy in our war for the total emancipation and enjoyment of all the freedoms guaranteed to all our people---- especially the most vulnerable in our society. 

It was Nelson Mandela who said;"Each historical period defines specific challenges of national progress and leadership….as for me personally; I belong to a generation of leaders of whom the achievement of democracy was the defining challenge". 

It is our hope that through this programme we will saw the seeds that will turn our society into a more caring society.  It is you who are the first apprentice bricklayers for a caring society!!!   

Roar young lions!!!! Raor!!!