by Safiyia Stanfley – Provincial Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Women’s Network in the Northern Cape
Date: 14 June 2017
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature today by the provincial chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Women’s Network, Safiyia Stanfley MPL, during the Youth Day debate.
As we commemorate the 1976 uprisings, the Democratic Alliance applauds the resilience and the passion of our youth, then and now. We acknowledge that many strides have been made in our country’s history because of the extraordinary commitment of ordinary young people. And if we harness the optimism and dedication of our youth, our country would soon be able to take its rightful place amongst the economic forces of the world.
Youth Day is a day dedicated especially to the youth and is observed by 18 countries across the world, at different times of the year. A lot of importance and significance is given to the young men and women of our world.
Unfortunately, South African statistics show that the ANC-led government is failing our youth. Similar events that triggered the uprising in 1976 can be seen and felt today. Last year we experienced #FeesMustFall, which forced students to take to the streets and put their studies on hold so that decision-makers could sit up and listen to their pleas.
The quality of education offered to the majority of our learners remains uneven, academically deserving students remain excluded from further opportunities and unemployment among the youth remain worryingly and unacceptably high. Our youth are meant to be our generation of born frees, but they remain shackled in the chains of poverty, hopelessness and unemployment.
In the Northern Cape alone, unemployment amongst the youth stands at more than 36%. Our youth are not free when one in three cannot find a job.
It is for this reason that the Democratic Alliance has launched a campaign to rescue the lost generation of unemployed youth. Our rescue mission focuses on two pillars – the first addresses the skills needed for jobs and the second looks at economic growth which can stimulate the sustained creation of sustainable jobs. Our twofold rescue mission will create a cycle where opportunities are plentiful and where our youth are capacitated to take full advantage of these opportunities.
When we talk about Skills for Jobs, we talk about improving the quality of basic education and improving access to further opportunities. We firstly look at methods to ensure that every child in every school receives high quality education in every subject – from the first day of schooling until the last. Without exception!
Our Rescue Mission will empower our youth to improve their chances of finding work by offering a number of diverse education, training and internship options.
Qualifying and academically deserving students will be able to access funding through an expanded National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which will provide comprehensive support to the poorest of the poor and proportional support to the missing middle. No young person with the skill and inclination to succeed at tertiary studies should be denied this opportunity. Administration of the NSFAS needs to improve if our youth are to enjoy the full benefits of the opportunities it can provide. How can our youth focus on their studies and focus on improving their futures when they have to worry about a roof over their heads because an administrator delays payments to the service provider?
Aside from tertiary education, we will also offer a free year of technical and vocational training to matriculants.
Our focus will also be on expanding opportunities for work experience, which will enable our youth to seek further employment. We will invest heavily in a government internship programme across all departments, establish apprenticeship programmes with the private sector and implement a comprehensive Youth Wage Subsidy which will incentivise the hiring of young jobseekers.
We do not want to create a generation of young people who rely on hand-outs; we want to empower our youth with a hand-up.
And that speaks to the second part of the Rescue Mission. Once we have succeeded in creating a supply of skilled, capable and able young people, we need to create a supply of job opportunities for them.
We firstly need to run a transparent, honest government which entices businesses to invest – not a country which invites junk statuses, but a clean, well-run administration which is geared towards providing opportunities for its youth and services to all its citizens.
Ninety per cent of our potential to create jobs at the pace we need lies in the small, medium and micro enterprises. We need to provide our youth with the start-up capital, advice and training they need to create their own companies. To ensure that those companies flourish, we need to minimise the burden of red tape on the SMME sector. We must make it easier for SMMEs to exist, to grow and to employ more people.
The proof of this plan is in the pudding. Where we govern, we have implemented aspects of the rescue mission and it is working. It is working so well that Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, says that the Western Cape is the best performing province when it comes to education. It is working so well that cities governed by the Democratic Alliance are able to create and continue creating job opportunities while elsewhere unemployment is on the rise.
We need to empower our youth to be the engineers of their own destiny, to seize the opportunities that life can offer and to become owners of wealth and capital in their own right. The Democratic Alliance is the only party in the country that can offer this to our youth.
Provincial Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Women’s Network in the Northern Cape
084 919 4157
071 251 5558