SOUTH AFRICA’S “Born frees”, the generation born on or after 27 April 1994 are now 21 years of age. That’s right, South Africa’s democracy is celebrating its 21st year of democracy.
Symbolically, 21 is traditionally the age where citizens reached the age of majority. However, a 2007 act of parliament lowered the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized (and recognized or declared) in South African law to 18, to bring it in line with other countries.
The age of majority is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and thus assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over them.
Adults are able to sue and be sued, and generally lack any of the protections afforded children.
Welcome to adulthood and the freedom to be responsible for ones actions.
Thus we mark the threshold at which our nation’s Born Frees are forced into the job market by South Africa’s current economic system.
South Africa’s economic system is not voluntary. Thus consent to enter the job market is fraught with problems. Chief of these is the legacy of apartheid which hinged on outright exploitation of black labour whilst maintaining a cheap and compliant labour force.
A welfare system which benefits everybody, including job-seekers, and supported by a market economy, would remove many of the objections against modern capitalism.
Medialternatives has expurgated at length on what such a voluntary economic system could entail.
Thus we mark the threshold at which Born Frees are forced into the job market and provide solace to the future victims of South Africa’s current economic system.
We understand the many problems being experienced, including a short supply of jobs, low economic growth, a weak rand and corrupt politicians, and can only advise, that creating jobs via entrepreneurship and “flea-market” capitalism is perhaps the only way one can escape the trap in which many working class individuals find themselves.
Many Born Frees will have already experienced capitalist exploitation and will now be exposed to the full brunt of the neoliberal dog-eat-dog world.
The perennial debate in South Africa surrounding the age of consent, which is still 16, has unfortunately not seen a parallel debate on the age at which children may enter the job market and be employed.
Currently, the employment threshold stands at 15 years of age, lower than either the age of consent or age of majority, resulting in exploitation of child labour.
Medialternatives thus issues a challenge to all Born Frees, how can we reduce and end exploitation of South Africa’s children, while creating greater equality and sharing of resources in an ecological, sustainable way?
How can we preserve the secular and non-sectarian legacy of our nation’s founder Nelson Mandela, by accommodating all citizens irrespective of race, colour or creed?
How can South Africa bootstrap itself into the 21st Century digital economy and embrace the third industrial revolution?
Send your answers to The Editor, Medialternatives.