President Cyril Ramaphosa told a crowd of African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) members on Wednesday that work experience should not be a requirement for young people when applying for employment.
“Experience must not be a requirement that is used for young people to get jobs. I use the argument, which is quite logical, if we say you must have experience, where are you going to get that experience?” said Ramaphosa.
He said he would “do away with” the notion that experience was essential amongst the public sector and would push the private sector to follow suit.
Ramaphosa was speaking in Durban at a youth rally in honour of Peter Mokaba, who was the first youth league president after the unbanning of the ANC. Mokaba would have celebrated his 60th birthday on January 7, had he lived. He died in 2002 when he was 43-years-old.
Mokaba gained international notoriety for using the slogan “kill the boer, kill the farmer” and for denying the existence of HIV.
He was appointed a deputy minister of environmental affairs and tourism by former president Nelson Mandela and was thrice voted a member of the ANC's national executive committee. He is widely regarded as a national hero amongst many of the country’s youth for his militant stance against apartheid, for which he was imprisoned.
Ramaphosa said Mokaba embodied the values that the youth should espouse. Mokaba was a hero of his generation because he “immersed himself heart and soul into the struggle for the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa”.
Mokaba should also be used as a mirror for the youth, said Ramaphosa, as he was not scared to raise difficult questions about the direction in which the ANC and youth league were moving.
Ramaphosa said that while the youth league was autonomous, it was still part of the mother body and should be radical in generating new ideas.
“It must be militant in terms of agitating for those ideas and must always remain true to the principles of the ANC. You as the youth league must have the courage to defend the principles of the ANC at all times and advance its principles even when the environment seems hostile,” he said.
Ramaphosa called the youth league a “defensive shield” for the governing party.
“The youth league should be the storm troopers for non-racialism and non-sexism as we continue with the building of a national democratic society.”
He lauded the league for “raising the land question early on” and for fighting for free education.
“The government has had to follow behind you and say ‘yes, we will find the means’”, said Ramaphosa, adding that it had been difficult to source the money to fund free education for those from poor families.
He also commended the league for fighting for economic emancipation and said that 20 percent of those nominated onto party lists for the upcoming national election were youth.
“We have made sure young people will have 20 percent representation in parliament and legislature. It’s a start and it will keep rising,” he said.