By Carien du Plessis
Cuban-style revolutionary youth spies could be on every street corner if a National Youth Development Agency plan for compulsory community service is approved.
Agency chairman Andile Lungisa told a press briefing yesterday that people as young as 13 in countries like Cuba have become "defenders of the revolution", keeping a close watch on the activities of people in their neighbourhoods.
The agency would like to see that happening here, said Lungisa, who is deputy president of the ANC Youth League.
He said it wanted to make the national youth service programme - which entails community service - compulsory for all young people, although interim agency CEO Malose Kekana gave the assurance that it would not be a reintroduction of conscription.
Kekana said benefits would be attached to this kind of community service, such as student loans or funding, although the service should not be purely about compensation.
For instance, students who applied for the government's national student financial aid scheme would be expected to do a period of community service.
Lungisa said the agency, which hopes to receive a budget of R930-million next year, would monitor the work of government departments as well as businesses to ensure that young people were given employment.
Cuba is a communist country, not a democracy. There, the 'non-revolutionary activities' are specifically defined. In our democracy (let's not criticise its quality right now), we do not have 'principles of the revolution' that we must keep to, so this begs the question on which activities should those young minds report on? So what is it exactly we are helping the youth with? Reminds me of those times when USSR led a propaganda campaign in the 1920-30s about the enemies of communism and how those enemies should be reported to the state to be dealt with, harshly. Or does our charming leading party wants to breed the new generation of Pavlik Morozovs?
Plus, R930 million budget? This is a bigger budget than some government agencies, which do actual work to benefit people, get.
By Carien du Plessis