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‘We Shall Overcome This Traumatic Period,’ Says SA Parly

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The presiding officers of parliament have called on South Africans to “work hand in glove” with the government in curbing the spread of Covid-19, as the country battles the third wave of infections.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chair Amos Masondo said they were confident the country would overcome the myriad of challenges it grappled with.

Among other things, they cited the high rate of unemployment, various forms of social ills, poverty and difficulties brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We all owe it to the 1976 young liberators to ensure that we build the SA of our dreams free from the pandemic and social ills. We shall overcome this traumatic period because we are a nation of hope.

“We want young people to be at the helm, driving the economic recovery post the pandemic. It is possible as the young people are ready to exploit all opportunities provided by the pandemic through the fourth Industrial Revolution.”

They said the historic events which took place 46 years ago, still echoed in their minds, “as it remains immortalised in SA.”

Reflecting on the Soweto uprisings, which claimed the lives of many including schoolboy Hector Peterson, they said these were a painful reminder of the country’s history.

“The march was against an unjust education system aimed at undermining and restricting their intellectual development. The cruel apartheid system retaliated with the violent scourge, killing unarmed young people.

“The event became a defining moment in our history and should be a stark reminder to all that democracy was achieved through bloodshed and sacrifice,” said Masondo and Modise.

Statistics from the Labour Force Survey show that in the first quarter of 2021 the unemployment rate among the youth surged to 46.3%.

The presiding officers said this had caused parliament to prioritise skills development through its constitutional mandate.

“Through its constitutional mandate of providing a national forum for public consideration of issues, the hosting of the youth parliament helps young people bring to the fore their challenges. In return, parliament can gauge the pulse of the youth and activate a programme of action.

“Through our constitutional mandate and power, parliament commits to addressing issues affecting young people. Our collective efforts will help build a better quality of life for all young people free from all social ills,” said the presiding officers.