launch speech

Address by the Deputy President, Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka, at the launch of the Bokamoso Barona Investment Trust

25 April 2007
Programme Director
Chairperson of the Bokamoso Barona Investment Trust,
Tshilidzi Ratshitanga
Minister of Minerals and Energy, Ms Buyelwa Sonjica
Minister of Transport, Mr Jeff Radebe
MECs Present here
Lifetime Recognition Award recipient Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Past and Present Student leaders
Leaders of Business
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Being here at this event today, I cannot but carry a sense of that image from Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”, when Almustafa is asked by the people of Orphalese to speak to them about children, and he says:
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”.
There is an immense sense of generational connection through time that this image conveys, and it captures for me the sheer significance of this event tonight.

How remarkable it is that we are here today at the launch of the Bokamoso Barona Investment Trust, shot from a bow many decades ago.
The student organisations, Sasco, Cosas and Saspu, that today are launching this empowered initiative to help meet the needs and interests of impoverished students in our schools and tertiary institutions, were at the cutting edge of our mass democratic struggle in the days of apartheid, demanding rights to education that only a free and democratic South Africa could undertake to fulfil.

You were the bow that shot the arrow that has found its mark here today, and I congratulate you.
In this, I believe, is the fundamental role of the student movement in a transforming society.
When we talk about young people, how can we not but talk about “Bokamoso”, about the future. The question of the future is inherent to the being of young people, and is fundamental to our very sustainability as human society. We also show here that the future of the young is now and here.

The focus of a progressive student movement as you have historically demonstrated is to make for the best possible future for young people, for the benefit of society as a whole.
How you go about achieving those noble goals is framed by the times. I am sure the trustees of Bokamoso Barona Investment Trust would not have specifically thought of an investment vehicle as they “toyi-toyied” those many years ago.
The programmes the Trust aims to support will go a long way to achieving conditions for the best possible future of our young people, and will have the effect of partnering Government’s own programmes.

The leadership development programme you aim to support will meet the immediate needs of student organisation, but through this also anticipate the leadership needs of the country. You know from historical experience in the mass democratic movement that organizational involvement is hugely significant in the development of leadership.
Why some of you are even Trustees today!

I cannot stress enough the benefit of involvement in the development of leadership. So I am extra pleased to see that Sasco for example, promotes voluntary community service by students as a pillar of its activities. The biggest benefit will go to the individual students who participate as we say in the National Youth Service (NYS)…PROUD TO SAY, so do just that!
This complements the National Youth Service Volunteer Campaign and is in keeping with an objective of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) to create caring and sharing communities and economy.

It is through the practical experience of working among the masses of our people, contributing to social and economic development at grassroots, that a leadership of commitment, integrity and people skills may be developed. It bridges the ever existing gap between knowledge from books and reality in the society the youth read about.

Strong student leadership makes for strong stakeholder organisation, contributing to a strong relevant education sector.
The biggest challenge and opportunity to significantly change lives of all is in access and quality education, it is required for the shared, sustainable and accelerated growth that we need to eradicate poverty and improve the livelihoods of our people. Both education from Schools and tertiary; and skills experience is necessary in all our communities. In this, the appropriate skills to match the needs of the economy and the accessibility of quality education to the poorest are critical concerns that we need you to focus. We need you to be part of the Department of Education’s Adopt a School campaign and the campaign to increase the numbers of higher grade mathematics students.

The Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) addresses this in a co-ordinated manner and as a mater of urgency - as would Bokamoso Barona’s planned bursary scheme, focussing support specifically for the scarce skills needs identified by JIPSA. For those who graduate but will still lack experience where we can we arrange for them to gain experience through JIPSA.
The entire investment trust initiative, speaks wonderfully of the necessity of the strategic partnership required between the public and private sectors to maximise resources to overcome poverty, unemployment and the social ills that afflict South Africa.

I welcome the Trust’s plans to support the establishment of a research institute focused on youth issues.
There is a need for such dedicated research capacity to inform policy and programmes regarding the youth who, as defined, make up close to 40% of our population and who are among the majority of our country’s poor and unemployed. There is an even greater need for cutting-edge research capacity given the dynamic nature of the developmental challenges in a transforming society such as ours – and I look forward to the enlightening insights that will be produced by this research institute.

Africa is the most youthful continent and so is South Africa. For that reason, we need as much information and investment in youth. That is one of the most urgent needs. Furthermore, young people must be mobilised to be active in the improvement and protection of:

  • The culture of learning and teaching
  • Take part in fighting climate change or we have no planet for the young to inherit.

In conclusion, allow me to call on the leadership of the progressive student movement, present and past, never to forget where you come from and what made you. Never under estimate the difference you can make. Be the future and the change you want to see. It starts with you and what you do everyday just as one person than as a collective.

Let me remind you of my favourite teachings of Mahatma Ghandi, The Seven Social Sins that youth must be aware of:
1.Wealth Without Work
2.Pleasure Without Conscience
3.Knowledge Without Character
4.Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
5.Science Without Humanity
6.Religion Without Sacrifice
7.Politics Without Principle

Thank you.

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