The youth in South Africa need to stop fighting their leaders' battles, DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said on Thursday.
"We have a new South Africa led by old South Africans with old South African thinking," Maimane said in Johannesburg.
"We need to look at what are we mobilising the youth to do."
He said it was concerning when young people stood up and said they would kill for their leaders, and called to make provinces ungovernable.
Former ANCYL leader Julius Malema said in 2008 that he was prepared to "take up arms and kill for [President Jacob] Zuma". The league recently said it intended making the Western Cape ungovernable.
Maimane was speaking at a debate, hosted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, between the Democratic Alliance, the Young Communist League of SA, and the ANC Youth League, about youth participation and mobilisation.
YCLSA national chairman Yershen Pillay said the country's youth needed bold and radical policy decisions.
"We need less dependence on the state if we are going to drive change."
This was why the proposed youth wage subsidy would not work.
"It doesn't adequately respond to... the unemployment we face."
Pillay said the youth subsidy served the interest of business rather than the youth, and did not consider the education and skills gap.
The YCLSA was proposing a medium-term, and a long-term plan for 2050. This included investment in co-operative development.
"We need to give young people a chance," said Pillay.
"There needs to be a cultural change, make education fashionable."
He said the youth needed education and skills development, access to information, and entrepreneurship development.
"You have a melting pot of interventions. A culture of service needs to replace a culture of entitlement," said Pillay.
The ANCYL's Vuyo Roji said there were people in South Africa who wanted the economic status quo to stay the same.
"There are enemies," he said.
On the National Development Plan tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, Roji said the ANCYL did not believe a "political elite" could solve the problems.
"We don't think academics can sit in a corner and tell us what we need to do."
The ANCYL's vision was to have an economy which eliminated poverty.
He said the youth league still believed in nationalising strategic sectors of the economy, expropriation of land without compensation, and free education.
Youth leaders needed to provide leadership.
"They must be able to persuade and be persuaded," he said.