I watched in amazment and horror last week when Mr Malema’s supporters ran amok in the streets. Surely they had come to sing freedom songs and to have a bit of a toyi-toyi outside Luthuli House. What could have caused such chaos?
It turned out that they were being prevented from getting anywhere near Luthuli House and they were irate. Presumably they had been bussed in from far. It was a rare opportunity to have their voices heard and their displeasure at the lack of prospects for the future expressed. It’s their democratic right. The Bill of Rights states clearly that they may toyi-toyi; lord knows everyone else has had a day in the streets. It’s their turn. Where better to stage their protest than outside Luthuli House where those who are supposed to be looking after their future are letting them down dreadfully; this coupled, of course, with the chastising of their outrageous leader, Mr Malema.
And then, blow me down if I don’t see these young people running, ducking and flinching as a result of being pelted with rubber bullets and water cannon. It was nine o’clock in the morning, for heaven’s sake. Mr Malema hadn’t even yet arrived at his chastising and already the people who had come to support him were being pelted with rubber bullets and drenched with water cannon? How is that possible? Who is it that has not the sense to open their mouths and speak to those who were getting agitated and calm them down?
Why were they being prevented from standing outside Luthuli House anyway? And why was Luthuli House surrounded in barbed wire? What were those inside expecting? Are they fearful for their lives? Why? Are things in our country so bad in their estimation that they need barbed wire and water cannon? I think that it is an extraordinarily violent response to justifiably angry young citizens, and if they are so quick to turn to rubber bullets and water cannon, how long before they start turning live ammunition on young justifiably angry citizens? Democracy? Really?
Whatever the outcome of the chastising, these young people have much about which to remonstrate. Among other things, there is 77% unemployment among the youth. There are many among them who will never in their lives have a job, so they see no prospects for the future. There is no welfare for them. They have nothing but their freedom to protest and they should be allowed to protest at Parliament, Luthuli House or Nkandla for that matter, because they need to be heard. Are those at Luthuli House who are letting them down not interested in hearing them? And after treating young South Africans like water cannon fodder, will they ask them for their vote?
I’m disappointed and dismayed. I’ve heard those who say that the youth are just a bunch of thugs. I don’t agree. I don’t think they are thugs. What do you expect to happen when angry young people are pelted with rubber bullets and water cannon? Naturally, they will do what they know how to do, they will fight back.
I’m glad that they fight back. South Africa’s youth have not given up on themselves. They will not be oppressed. They will fight for their future. They must fight for their future. Viva that!