South African’s National Liberation Movement

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Media Statement


Today, the African National Congress (ANC) joins millions of South Africans in commemorating Youth Day, a solemn and significant day in our national calendar. On this day, we remember and honour the brave students who, on June 16, 1976, stood up against the apartheid regime’s oppressive policies in Soweto. Their courage and sacrifice sparked a pivotal movement in our struggle for freedom and justice.

The Soweto Uprising began as a peaceful protest by thousands of black students opposing the compulsory use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in their schools. Afrikaans, seen as the language of the oppressor, symbolised the broader system of racial subjugation and inequality. The students, demanding their right to be taught in their own languages, gathered to march to Orlando Stadium. However, the peaceful demonstration was met with brutal force by the police, resulting in the tragic deaths of hundreds of young people. Among them was 13-year-old Hector Pieterson, whose photograph, taken as he was being carried by a fellow student, became an iconic image symbolizing the brutality of apartheid and the innocence of its victims. The violence of that day ignited a wave of protests and resistance that spread throughout the country and intensified the struggle against apartheid. The Soweto Uprising marked a turning point, galvanising international condemnation of the apartheid regime and mobilising further support for the liberation movements within South Africa.

The defeat of apartheid stands as a testament to the resilience and determination of the South African people, fuelled by the sacrifices of those who fought for justice and equality, particularly the brave youth of 1976 who refused to accept oppression. June 16 is a significant milestone in our historic calendar. In commemorating this day, we are reminded of the valiant struggles and sacrifices of the youth in fighting the apartheid system and carving a path that would shape the country’s trajectory toward democracy. A democratic South Africa is where each of us can unleash our potential, create equal opportunities, and build a prosperous nation.

We honour the leaders of the 1976 generation in furtherance of the Freedom Charter, which aims to open the doors to learning and culture, eradicate mud schools and pit latrines, and promote the dignity of learners through the Basic Education Laws Amendments Act. This includes transforming higher education to meet the country’s human capital needs, ensuring access through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), creating decent jobs, providing universal access to health through the National Health Insurance Act, and fighting poverty through the Basic Income Grant.

The ANC salutes young people for nurturing our democracy and engaging in dialogue to address challenges such as unemployment, a weak economy, crime, substance abuse, and gender-based violence and femicide. The ANC, in its Elections Manifesto, prioritises these issues, focusing on Investing in People, Defending Democracy, and Advancing Freedom. Despite the daunting challenges and competing needs, the ANC is committed to addressing the needs of young people. This includes creating a conducive learning environment, strengthening the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), increasing funding for NSFAS, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs), ensuring access to financial institutions, and uprooting corruption.

The ANC expresses profound gratitude for the youth vote in the 2024 national elections. This vote reaffirms the youth’s trust in the ANC’s leadership to build a state capable of empowering young people to meet their aspirations. For this support, we are thankful.

As an organisation, we join the country in commemorating this important day and pay tribute to the 1976 generation by building on a dream of a future filled with hope, dignity, and prosperity. This day must be commemorated with dignity, reflecting the struggles of the youth of yesteryear and the values upon which their struggles were waged. President Oliver Reginald Tambo once said, “A country, a movement, a person that does not value its youth and children does not deserve its future.” The ANC is committed to advancing President Tambo’s dream of a future for our youth and children.

The 1976 generation fulfilled its mission. It is now incumbent upon the present generation to fulfil its mission as we build on 30 years of democratic achievements. Any act to the contrary would betray their struggles and desecrate the history upon which our nation is built.



Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri


Martina Della Togna
082 355 3645

Mothusi Shupinyane Ka Ndaba
084 498 0105

Bonnie Ramaila
072 573 7583