It’s been 46 years since the South African youth revolted against the policies of the Apartheid government especially the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools across the country. This heroic action came with dire consequences for those who made the decision to embark on a peaceful protest to voice their dissatisfaction.  Today as we commemorate their courage in standing up against an unjust system, we call on the youth in a democratic South Africa to unite and stand up against the current regime’s failures. 

South African youth commemorating Youth Day. Photo: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

It is totally unacceptable that twenty-eight years into our democracy, South Africa is struggling with the highest youth unemployment rate,  with over 7,9 million young people struggling to find sustainable employment. Due to this, most young people are excluded from enjoying the fruits of our democracy.   

The Assembly of the Unemployed (AoU) is dismayed by the fact that despite this challenge, the government unilaterally decided to cut off the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant of R350 that was some young people’s only lifeline since the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic. This comes after the government gazetted new regulations to govern the grant. The decision taken by the government means fewer people will now qualify for the SRD grant. The politicians seem to be running away from the reality that millions of South Africans are living below the poverty line.   

We are tired of empty promises made by the government. In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa affirmed that the government will accelerate inclusive economic growth and create jobs. To date, we have yet to see any significant improvement.  Earlier this year, in his State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa also failed to address the country’s unemployment crisis by not tabling specific plans of action that the government is taking to create jobs, especially for the youth. Tired of repeating his false promises, the President absolved his government by telling the nation that ‘government does not create jobs. business creates jobs.’ 

This Youth Day, we reiterate our call to President Ramaphosa to implement a permanent Basic Income Grant of R1500 per month for all unemployed between the ages of 18-59, including caregivers, home-based workers and precarious workers who earn below the national minimum wage. This will bring much-needed relief to millions of South Africans who are languishing in poverty.  

We cannot continue with the rhetoric while we are sitting with a ticking time bomb. The youth of 1976 played an integral role in ushering in our democracy and today we celebrate their commitment by challenging the youth to fight for the implementation of the Basic Income Grant. Through their zeal and unwavering commitment, we might achieve some positive results just like the catalysts of ‘76. 

To commemorate youth month, the Botshabelo Unemployed Movement will be hosting a Youth Dialogue under the theme: “The youth is the backbone of our nation”. This discussion will be moderated by comrade Kenny Phaoane. 


Venue: Botshabelo Multi-function Centre

1230 Section E

Date: Saturday, 18 June 2022

Time: 10 am

In Mpumalanga, the Middelburg Environmental Justice Network will also be hosting a Youth Dialogue and the theme is “Our History, Land, Environment”. 


Venue: Reabotha hall, Mhluzi

Date: Saturday, 18 June 2022

Time: 9:30 am 

In Cape Town, the SAMWU Back To Work Campaign will be marching to the Cape Town Civic Centre. 


Meeting Point: Hanover Street (Keizersgracht)

Date: Saturday, 18 June 2022

Time: 10 am


1. Implementation of the 2015 Strike Agreement

2. Termination of Metro Cleaning contract and absorption of the workers by the City of Cape Town

3. Law Enforcement must continue having transport and we also demand rankings for the Law Enforcement Department just like other Safety and Security Departments

4. No to the closing of public clinics unilaterally by the City of Cape Town

For further comment contact:

Mooketsi Diba, Botshabelo Unemployed Movement: 073 217 9686

Bafana Hlatshwayo, Middelburg Environmental Justice Network: 076 923 2298

Mikel Khumalo, Back To Work Campaign: 065 021 5329