Reviving South African politics: Time for youth to take baton

Stop rewarding struggle heroes who are no longer fit.


The newly elected leadership of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) seems to be sober-minded and clear on what its interests are.

The call to have 50% of MPs deployed to parliament to be young people is a genuine one and has been long overdue.

South Africans are tired and have lost faith in the older generation, that finds itself lacking in robustness because they are tired, sleepy and are no longer interested in moving away from their orthodox ways of politics.

ANCYL president Collen Malatji has dubbed parliament a retirement village and that cannot continue to be the order of the day.

We can’t allow ourselves to be the laughing stock of a world that is getting younger by the day. It is high time that the places that make laws represent the demographics of this country fairly.

This notion of saying that young people are rowdy is a very negative misconception and should be condemned.

In this country, especially within the ANC and the ANCYL, there are a lot of youngsters who are capable, educated, energetic and are willing to dedicate their skills and time to building a better South Africa.

And how will they do so if they are not given a chance?

Now is the time for the ANC to smell the coffee and acknowledge that the world is changing at a rapid rate.

The ANC can’t afford to be caught up in the past and reward struggle heroes who are no longer fit for purpose.

Space ought to be granted to the young lions.

For their inclusion in these places of decision-making will revive meaningful political debates, a new way of thinking will be developed and this might encourage the youngsters of this country to be active participants in politics.

Therefore, with youth seeing their peers being the face of politics, interest will be harnessed in them to be activists and they will be encouraged to vote in all elections that take place.

The presence of youth in these institutions will ensure that innovation is championed and that issues are solved differently because young people are not scared to be different and think in unconventional ways.

Hence, new solutions will never be left untested.

This is the revolution South African has been waiting for.

Because once youth are in parliament, they will never be afraid to hold the executive to account, reason being, they owe no-one anything.

Young people have been used in politics for far too long and that must stop now.

And this can happen provided that the members of the ANCYL support each other from the branches when it comes to processes of crowding their names on the ANC parliamentary lists come 2024.

With youth having numbers on their side, it will be absolutely difficult for the old ANC comrades to stop the moving train.

This doesn’t mean all old people must vacate their positions of power, because young people still need them for wisdom and institutional memory.

Therefore, the 50% youth will learn from the 50% old generation that has developed experience. And that is what generational mix seeks to achieve.

For if the old guard doesn’t want to give the young generation a chance while they are still alive, what will happen when the old guard are no more and the younger generation has to take over?


Mthembu is an independent commentator