Executive Chairperson Sifiso Mtsweni: Briefing on 40th Commemoration of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu

3 Apr 2019

Statement by Executive Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Mr Sifiso Mtsweni during the media briefing with the Department of Arts and Culture and National Heritage Council (NHC) on 40th Commemoration of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu

Honourable Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa,
Executive Deputy Chairperson of the NYDA, MS Bavelile Hlongwa
Chairperson of the Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Scholarship Foundation, Mr Gideon Mahlangu,
Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council (NHC), Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa,
Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Mr Waseem Carrim,
Members of the Media,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

The history of South Africa’s freedom and democracy tells a story of a committed youth in the fight against apartheid. Many young people played a significant yet prominent role in the realisation of a free, non-sexist non-racial, democratic and prosperous country. The 16th of June 1976, being the hallmark and synthesis of the youth revolt in the country, young people were already at the centre of fighting for freedom much earlier before the eventful day.

We gather a few days before the world remembers Solomon Mahlangu, affectionately known as Kalushi. A fearless revolutionary who met his death under the brutal apartheid regime. Unlike the many mortals, Kalushi had zero fear for his execution by hanging such that he uttered the infamous words to his Mother, late Mama Esther Mahlangu at the gallows and said:

“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight”

The month of April is a painful reminder of the loss of Mother of the Nation, Mama Winfred Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela. Explained by His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa during the occasion of her official funeral that “In death, she has demonstrated that our political party and racial lines and the numerous disputes we may have are eclipsed by our shared desire to follow her lead in building a just, equitable and caring society”. It is Mama’s teachings that we as the youth, must emulate in our daily lives. The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) says no to xenophic attacks, because Mama Mandela believed that “South Africans should know their history and where they come from, by knowing that they will be aware that they are Africans first and they should treat their fellow African as brother and sisters well”.

Honourable Minister, as South Africa marks 25 years since of freedom, it has been our preoccupation as the NYDA to place at the centre of youth development a deliberate preservation of our history and appreciation of the role played by youth during the struggle for democracy and freedom.

Cognisant to this fact, in 2014 the NYDA established the Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Scholarship Fund (SKMSF). The SKMSF emerged out of the idea of embracing Kalushi, as a symbol of bravery, martyrdom and source of inspiration to reaping the fruits of Freedom by working towards a better future for youth.

Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu had a desire to become a teacher. Thus, preserving his legacy through provision of free education to students from poor and working-class background became prudent. The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has successfully run this programme for the past 5 years. We will on Friday celebrate the success of this scholarship fund through a gala dinner and showcase some of the most outstanding and high-performance beneficiaries.

Since its establishment, the scholarship has benefitted students across various fields of study including law, commerce, engineering, agriculture, information technology, natural sciences, etc. The SKMSF has identified key field of studies that contribute much in the economic development of the country which will afford youth economic opportunities. Since the establishment, the SKMSF has educated over five hundred (500) youth across the country, studying in various public universities and universities of technologies.

It also important to mention that establishment of SKMSF by NYDA is part of executing its constitutional obligation which, amongst is to provide education opportunities for the youth from the rural areas of academic excellence who are unable to afford to further their studies at a tertiary level. The main beneficiaries are youth from rural and under-developed areas, including townships.

In line with the announcement by government to provide fee-free quality public higher education to be implemented in phased approach for household of incomes below R 350 000, the NYDA has during the 5 years of the scholarship made the following amendments:

  • NYDA will continue to support students on the programme as the new policy applied to first year students.
  • New applicants would be in the sectors of post-graduate studies given low number of youth black postgraduates students and the need to create more research.
  • New applications would also be in the sector of creative arts given the importance of this sector in the National Development Plan and its lack of coverage with the free education policy.
  • Applicants would also be considered for artisan training not otherwise covered by higher education.

Members of the media, we are also happy to announce that through our partnership with the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), 180 000 have manage to apply for NSFAS at our offices across the country. A partnership that aimed at increasing access to funding for youth to benefit from free education.

Programme Director, the combination of the SKMSF and the initiative of the National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) to preserve the memories of the liberation struggle as part of the country’s heritage makes the 40th commemoration of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu a significant gesture to honour the sacrifices of young people through celebrating the legacy of Kalushi.

The NYDA declared the year 2019 to be the Year of the Youth, spearheading to its logical conclusion the battle for the scrapping of experience as an entry requirement to all government and private sector entry level vacancies. A victory for all young people as declared by government that as of 01st April 2019 experience will be a thing of the past. We are still urging the private sector to consider this option and implement, to respond to the crisis of youth unemployment, inequality and poverty.

We began deliberations with the Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council (NHC) Advocate Mancotywa earlier this year with the view of establishing why 40 years later , there no site to preserve the story and legacy of Kalushi as a key player in the liberation heritage of South Africa.

I am delighted to announce that Advocate Mancotywa will in his remarks announce the decision and process to follow regarding the decision taken by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) regarding this matter.

We must however declare to the Mahlangu family, South Africans and the international community that Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu will not die whilst we are alive!

We hope that the decision by SAHRA will indeed be welcomed by South Africans and instil a sense of patriotism amongst the youth. We have also ensured that a lot of young people go out in their numbers to register to vote in the upcoming national general elections. The Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Voter Registration and Education Campaign (VREC) by the National Youth Service Programme intensified in the last leg of registration by the IEC target eligible young voted across all high schools, universities and TVET colleges. We are hopeful that come the 8th of May 2019 , young people will go out in their numbers to vote.

I thank you.  

Lerato Gambu
Cell: 064 860 0716