Solomon Mahlangu scholarship fund a seed of his legacy

Friday, April 6, 2018

Deputy President David Mabuza says the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund (SKMSF) established in his honour is a seed that is yet to bear fruit - but a step in the right direction.

The Deputy President was reflecting on Mahlangu’s last words in which he said: “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom”.

“We wish to acknowledge the good work of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in being the voice of South African youth. Giving young people skills and abilities to fend for themselves is the best honour and gift to give to the memory of Solomon Mahlangu,” said the Deputy President.

He was speaking at a commemorative dinner for Mahlangu, an ANC Military Wing uMkhonto weSizwe combatant, who was executed by hanging 39 years ago after being wrongfully accused of murder and terrorism on the 6th of April 1979.

The Deputy President highlighted that the commemoration of Mahlangu coincides with the passing of the mother of the nation, Mam’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

“We meet at a time of national mourning, when we have dipped our flags in honour of our struggle icon, Mam’ Nomzamo Winfred Madikizela-Mandela. She was the embodiment of our struggle, the proud bearer of the scars of liberation and the mother who stood bravely between bullet, child and the people,” said the Deputy President.

The dinner, which was held at Freedom Park in Tshwane, also celebrated four years of the SKMSF.

The scholarship was established in honour of the late Mahlangu who was 23 years-old at the time of his execution and according to his late mother had ambitions to be a teacher.

Beneficiaries of the scholarship

The top 15 beneficiaries of the scholarship, who have recently graduated from South African universities and TVET colleges, were in attendance.

“I never thought I would be standing in front of Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Today, we stand here in front of you as doctors, farmers and engineers as a result of the scholarship. We stand here because Solomon Mahlangu fought for us,” said a SKMSF beneficiary Christine Ngoveni.

Since its establishment, the scholarship has provided financial support to young people, increasing their chances of employability and entrepreneurship.

Advocate Priscilla Jana, who represented Mahlangu at his trial, relayed how her efforts were stifled and Mahlangu received a wholly unfair trial but remained steadfast even as he walked his 52 steps to gallows.

Lend a hand and carry the baton forward

The Deputy President said while the NYDA’s efforts in ensuring that Mahlangu’s call to “continue the fight” has been done through access to education more needs to be done.

NYDA Executive Chairperson Sfiso Mtsweni called on the private sector to lend a hand and carry the baton forward by providing graduates with entry level jobs.

“It remains our submission that the private sector through legislation must employ young people. We need to scrap experience as a requirement for entry level jobs,” said Executive Chairperson Mtsweni.

The Deputy President said the NYDA should also work towards rallying behind job initiatives to alleviate unemployment amongst the youth.

“As the NYDA, as the (Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College) SOMAFCO Trust, as the custodians of the legacy of Solomon Mahlangu is to speak for these young people.

“Working with you, we must mobilise the South African private sector to make sure that the recently launched Youth Employment Service (YES) by President Ramaphosa becomes a success and is sustainable,” said the Deputy President.

The Deputy President said government will continue to prioritise the empowerment of youth through skills development, enterprise development, and job creation.

“As Deputy President and Chair of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC), I have committed to work more closely with the NYDA to ensure that we multiply the success of the NYDA in its youth development programmes,” said the Deputy President. –

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