In order to effectively realise our objectives as a political organisation, it is vital for us to understand what our exact role in South Africa is. Many of us engage in campaigning and vote-winning activities for the party, but why are we actually here? What must we aim to achieve through our activities?
There are three elements that being the official opposition in South Africa entail. They are, succinctly, to oppose, propose and expose. It is vital for all three of them to be present, not just for the success of the DA, but most importantly for the success of constitutional democracy in South Africa on the whole.
Often we have been criticised when carrying out one or more of these duties, but in looking at them more deeply, we understand that none of them can, or should, be forsaken.
The role we are often criticised most for is opposing. Opposition should never be done for opposition sake, but where the policies or decisions of Government conflict with the best interests of South African citizens and their advancement, strong opposition is vital, lest we end up a failed state. Perfect examples of where robust opposition is necessary are in the case of the Protection of State Information Bill, through which the state seeks to criminalise the exposure of Government wrong doing; or the review of the independence of the judiciary, which seeks to undermine one of the main tenets on which the Constitution is based.
The DA has and will continue to be at the forefront of protecting citizens rights from those who seek to concentrate power in the hands of a few.
The second role we occupy, and by far the DA Youth’s favourite, is that of being proposers. The visualisation and articulation of an open, opportunity future for all has been at the centre of the DA Youth’s campaigns. Some of the proposals we have made over the last year include the proposal for completely new operating structure for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the proposal of a number of unique interventions government can implement to facilitate increased levels of entrepreneurship among young people, the Youth Wage Subsidy to alleviate youth unemployment and a voucher scheme for successful matriculants that will see them given cash to either put into further studies or starting a business, to name but a few. One thing the DA Youth is not short of is innovators, all of whom are masters at envisaging a new future for South Africa and planning how to get us there.
The final role of an opposition party in South Africa is to expose. In a well-functioning democracy, citizens hold government accountable for their actions. When we lack information, we cannot effectively monitor or hold them accountable. Hence, part of our role is to question the Government of the day and hold them accountable to the public, specifically the youth. The DA Youth in particular has played a leading role in exposing wrong doings by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), who have spent millions of youth development funding on ANC Youth League events, inflated salaries, parties for totalitarian youth wings from other countries and tenders for family.
On any given day, the DA Youth may be playing the role of opposers, proposers or exposers, or even all three simultaneously. What is certain is that each role is necessary for the maintenance of a healthy democracy and at all times, the DA Youth will execute them with the interests of young South Africans as our primary driver.
DA Youth Federal Leader