by Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL – DA Provincial Spokesperson for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism
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Date: 14 June 2018
Note to editors: The following is an extract of the speech delivered today by the DA Provincial Spokesperson for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism, Adv. Boitumelo Babuseng MPL, during the Youth Day debate held in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature at a sitting in Colesberg.
I am proud to participate in today’s debate as a representative of the only political party which has shown that it can, and does, promote and protect the interests of our youth. The Democratic Alliance honours the sacrifices made by the generation of 1976, whose bravery and courage influenced the direction of our country’s history.
Where we govern, we continue to respect their sacrifices through the provision of high quality education and the creation of an economic climate which empowers our youth to be economically active. Time and again, the statistics show us that the Western Cape has the highest quality of education and the lowest unemployment rates.
But let’s be honest about the challenges facing young people in this country.
The socio-economic conditions imposed on our youth at large through the ANC-led government’s consistent, systematic failures neither respects nor honours the sacrifices made by the generation of 1976.
The ANC-led government’s inept implementation of half-baked policies combined with a non-official policy of corruption, state capture and criminality has condemned our youth to perpetual unemployment and poverty. In this province, policies aimed at economic development remain nothing but smokescreens for kickbacks and our youth continue to be excluded from the economy.
The economic exclusion of our youth begins with the poor quality of education offered by an ANC-led government which prioritises union politics over the future of our children. The uprisings of 1976 was partially directed against an educational system designed purposefully to keep our young black South Africans the hewers of wood and drawers of water. But the quality of education offered so proudly by the ANC today is such that 78% of grade 4 learners are functionally illiterate.
Learners in the rural provinces governed by the ANC are more likely to drown in pit toilets filled with human faeces than to learn how to read and write!
When the Member of the Executive Council for Education presented her department’s budget last week, she conveniently forgot to mention that fewer than 30% of those who were in grade 2 in 2007 went on to pass grade 12 in 2017. She forgot to say that, while her department complains about financial constraints, it underspent on its procurement of Learner and Teacher Support Material in 2017/18 by more than 18%.
Is this what Hastings Ndlovu and Hector Pieterson died for? For the learners who survive the dangers of crumbling, unsafe and insufficient school infrastructure to be left without books in overcrowded classrooms with educators who are not vetted against the Sexual Offenders Register?
The consequence of this abysmal quality of education that the ANC prides itself on is that learners are not adequately prepared to pursue either further educational opportunities or to enter the labour market.
Youth unemployment remains twice as high as unemployment amongst adults. The Northern Cape has the second highest rate of youth who are not in employment, not in education and not economically active – and discouragement levels is growing among youth in the Northern Cape, as the dream of ever becoming employed or owning a business grows further and further into the distance.
The residents here today can tell us their stories of how unemployment in the municipality has been steadily growing, with some of the latest statistics showing that unemployment is reaching 40% here.
As I have stated earlier, the ANC-led provincial government’s response to the socio-economic crisis faced by our youth is simply to play politics.
The continued abuse of the Economic Growth and Development Fund is a perfect example. The youth of this province do not benefit from this Fund, which is intended to promote entrepreneurs and support small business enterprises. Last year, the single biggest allocation from this Fund was made to a Johannesburg-based NGO named Christians for Peace in Africa.
To date, the department could not motivate this disbursement. Is it perhaps because that money was used for the procurement of yellow shirts and other paraphernalia displayed at an event held here in Colesburg in May 2017?
The current Member of the Executive Council for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism announced his intention to reform the Fund’s transfer policy with great fanfare when he took up his post. But all he has in effect done is to ensure that beneficiaries are politically connected to ensure the continuation of a political patronage network!
When the Member of the Executive Council for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism is in Kimberley, he forgets about the needs of entrepreneurs in other parts of the province. Of the more than thirty SMMEs which received funding from the Economic Growth and Development Fund in the previous financial year, only 5 were located in Pixkley ka Seme – and how many were located here in Colesberg, here in Umsobomvu?
Kimberley and Frances Baard continues to receive preference, although entrepreneurs there have access to economic opportunities and avenues for funding aside from the department.
For example, Bosco Sports Event Management received R6 million for the hosting of one single event – although the sole director of the company is employed by the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality in Kimberley. Another events management company, Macronymn 37CC, raked in more than R24 million over the past three years for hosting a musical festival outside Kimberley over Easter.
The Member of the Executive Council for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism is not the only MEC who is blind and deaf to the plight of the youth. Earlier this year, I was contacted by a producer who wants to produce a documentary on the life of one of our iconic leaders in the Northern Cape, Mme Frances Baard. Her business plan indicates how she wants to use the talent and potential in the province to tell the story of one of our heroines. Yet despite numerous attempts from my office to contact the Member of the Executive Council for Sport, Arts & Culture, the producer has still not received any assistance. Indeed, she has not even had the courtesy of a reply from this department!
How are the youth of Colesberg benefitting from what the ANC is doing? What happened with that R1 million, which was paid in 2015/16, for a youth event to be hosted here? How did the youth of Colesburg benefit from this event?
The answer is that they did not and do not benefit from the ANC government’s corruption and criminality!
For the youth who want education of a high quality and for the youth who want decent access to economic opportunities, the only option is the Democratic Alliance. The DA-led Western Cape will, for example, be spending more than R65 billion on youth development in the next three years. We continue to roll out innovative programmes like free transport for jobseekers, so that they have greater access to the economic opportunities we create.
The Democratic Alliance believes in a national civilian service programme which would provide young school-leavers an opportunity to receive industry training in the fields of their choice and free higher education for students who are unable to afford it. We are also the only party that can grow the economy to enable true access to economic opportunities, as our governance record proudly shows.
It is no surprise that after the 2016 local government elections, the voters entrusted the Democratic Alliance with the government of the metropolitan areas which generate more than 50% of the country’s GDP.
After 2019, we will be in control of more than just the metros. And it will be to the benefit of the youth.
Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Provincial Spokesperson for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism
082 302 2117 / 079 874 6179
071 251 5558