The president said this on Tuesday in a message to observe Youth Day and the commemoration of 30 years of Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years of his imprisonment.
The annual Youth Day pays tribute to the school pupils who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto, and this year’s theme for the day was “Youth Power: Growing South Africa Together in the Period of Covid-19.”
During a panel discussion with young entrepreneurs who called for more government support, Ramaphosa challenged the youth to take the post-Covid-19 period as a time to create “great opportunities.”
The youth also told the president of their struggles to access government programmes meant to support small businesses.
Responding to them, Ramaphosa called on young people “to begin to see that the post-Covid-19 is a new platform.”
“We need to set up different ways of running our economy, of ownership of our economy, of managing our economy and of even production,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that the post-Covid-19 period would create “great opportunities,” especially for the youth, who make up 58 percent of the country’s unemployed people.
Turning to technology, the president advised the youth that this field underpinned nearly everything that would have to be done to recover from the pandemic.
“Technology is ushering in a new digital society. As young people we need to ask ourselves: are we prepared to continue living with the inequality that has persisted forever and a day?
He concluded: “We are looking forward to innovation, creativity, new ideas from young people and we want young people who are going to speak out – and step forward.”