If we had a government that put the needs of the neediest first, what would Grahamstown/eRhini, arguably the most divided city in South Africa, be like?
What would life be like for the Joza Youth Hub, which, as a voluntary non-profit organisation, seeks to enrich the lives of children and youth in the townships?
How would it be for all children and young people to have access to music, to books, to computers, to toys, to games, to swimming pools and other pleasures that the highly-resourced private schools here take for granted?
What then would be the role of our volunteers from Uckar and from the community, who give of their care and expertise freely to make a small difference in the lives of these impoverished people? Would they have to struggle daily in the midst of uncertain and precarious funding?
What would our state schools be like if the Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education had not returned unspent a sum of R530 million in 2016?
What would the youth of this township be doing if we did not have an unemployment rate of 40.6%?
For us, it would make no difference if Zuma stayed or went, if Gordhan was brought back or not! As long as South Africa continues with its neoliberal policies, the developmental needs of our people will be neglected. When a highly competitive global economy is prioritised over the basic needs of our most vulnerable people, our children’s futures will remain bleak.
So our protest today is against a government which has allowed global interests to dictate the policies and programmes of a young, democratic nation.
We protest against a government that has simply magnified the disparities between rich and poor. We protest against a government that protects the interests of the powerful and ignores the needs of the powerless. We agitate for a Joza Youth Hub that is fully funded by the government so it can be a place that fulfils the long, long dreams of youth.
- Esther Ramani, who is the Chair, Joza Youth Hub, writes this in her personal capacity