The 2017 State of the Nation Address had the MOST. The anticipated event shook the nation from pillar to post from all that transpired. Ideally, the State of the Nation Address is to report back to the people- the main stakeholders- as to what the country’s current standing is, its future plans and programmes for the betterment of the people. It is to highlight and reflect on the plans made yesteryear, and what action has since been adopted to ensure the fruition of such plans.
Activators from across South Africa gathered at this year’s State of the Nation Address held at parliament to make their voices heard on matters they feel directly affect young people. This was done in a peaceful, legal and cohesive manner.
Wielding placards and message boards with messages like: “YOU(th) MATTER,” “State of the Youth = SONA” and “HEAR US, Prioritise our voices” Activators took to the ‘People’s Assembly’ that was held at the Grand Parade in Cape Town to share the message and make the voices of the youth heard. The picket was structured to symbolise the unity and solidarity of our youth and how much the government, now more than ever, needs to hear the voice of young people.
Currently, individuals between the ages 18 – 35 constitute about 60% of the country’s population, yet the largest estimation of unemployment falls within that group as well. Tragedy? Most probably. You may be asking yourself, why a picket? Well, picketing originated in France and has since been used by groups of people to extend their message. It is a form of protest in which people (called picketers) congregate outside a place of work or location where an event is taking place. Often, this is done in an attempt to dissuade others from going in (“crossing the picket line”), but it can also be done to draw public attention to a cause. Picketers normally endeavour to be non-violent.
Picketing, as long as it does not cause obstruction to a highway or intimidation, is legal in many countries and in line with freedom of assembly laws, but many countries have restrictions on the use of picketing. It can have a number of aims, but is by and large to put pressure on the party targeted to meet particular demands and/or cease operations.
The focal points of concern for these Activators were the contents of the 9-point plan and National Youth Plan on matters pertaining to Youth unemployment, Skills development programmes and education. The SONA itself addressed these matters and our young people now all look forward to the budget speech which will give the cost implications as well as the time frames for all the said plans. Do we trust our government to prioritise youth concerns, do we believe the promises already made and do we have faith that service delivery cometh forth? The budget speech may surely provide more of a green light on the aforementioned.
As powerful and significant as the picket was, it could have done with a lot more Activators in their numbers to also be a part of this historic footprint. The ACTIVATE! network hosts and toasts a total of 2000 Activators actively driving change for the public good across the country and imagine if all those minds, voices and human force gathered together in one space to spread one message, imagine the collateral signage that would be.