Sol Plaatje must turn streetlights on for festive season
Democratic Alliance Press Statement by
Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Spokesperson on Economic Development
Youth Day debate: ANC fans the flames of joblessness
26 May 2016
Note to Editors: The following debate was delivered by DA Spokesperson on Economic Development, Boitumelo Babuseng (MPL), during a sitting of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature in Kimberley today.
Today, we debate the significance of June 16, or rather, Youth Day.
On this day, we commemorate the start of the Soweto Riots of 1976, sparked off by a government order that all instruction in black schools would be delivered in Afrikaans.
The iconic picture of the dying Hector Pieterson, being carried by another student while his sister ran next to them, will be engrained in our memories forever. The 13-year old schoolboy was shot by the police in Soweto near Johannesburg during a peaceful protest march. In the weeks that followed, scores of people – mostly youth – were killed and injured.
The horrors of this youth massacre bring home the brutalities of the apartheid regime.
Youth Day now serves to bring across the message that something like the Soweto riots should never ever happen again. It also serves to remind us of the importance of our youth, who are also our future leaders.
I so wish we could be celebrating the gains that have been achieved for the youth of South Africa since our hard won democracy 22 years ago. The youth should be reaping the benefits of this freedom but in reality, they remain under attack. Only this time, it’s not the gunfire of the apartheid regime that threatens their lives. Instead it is government’s failure to create a better tomorrow that jeopardizes their future.
In 1994, this country obtained political freedom yet economic freedom remains a pipedream for the 8.9 million jobless South Africans.
Youth unemployment in particular has skyrocketed and as many as 5.9 million out of the total 8.9 million unemployed people happen to be young people who can’t find a job or who have given up looking.
Hon. Speaker, at 54%, the unemployment rate for ages 15-24, which does not even include those who have given up looking for work, is four times higher than the global and African average of 13% – this is according to the International Labour Organisation.
As the DA’s Federal Leader, Mmusi Maimane, recently said, this is not just a crisis but a SUPER CRISIS!
To make matters, worse, research conducted by Stats SA indicates that the new generation of black Africans, aged between 25 and 34, are less skilled than their parents, and every other race and age group.
In the words of Statistician-General, Pali Lehohla, at the release of The Social Profile of Youth, 2009-2014”:
“When parents are better equipped than the children, it’s a sign of regression.”
Regression, weakening, deterioration – these are discouraging words that all translate into one and the same thing – a hopeless future for our already despondent youth.
The most obvious reason for this decay, Hon. Speaker, is that our education system fails to prepare young people for the world of work. Even those with a matric or a tertiary qualification, are seen by many companies as unemployable. This is because government has failed to equip them with the skills they need and also because government has failed to facilitate sufficient opportunities for young people to enter the job market to gain experience.
In other words, the ANC regime has locked the youth out of the economy and is itself fanning the flames of joblessness.
It is then little wonder that the number of youths living in poverty has declined in all provinces.
It is nevertheless very disturbing that youths in the Northern Cape appear to be most affected by poverty and are more likely to go hungry than their counterparts in other provinces.
This is certainly not a legacy that the Hon. Premier and her cabinet should be proud of.
As we know, high levels of poverty and unemployment are like a contagious disease that quickly leads to the spread of social ills, which exacerbate the circumstances in which the youth find themselves.
Hon. Speaker a study released by an organisation called Youthonomics looks at the prospects of young people in 64 countries across six continents and takes a wide range of indicators into account, including early education, university and skills, access to employment, work and living conditions, wellbeing and health and then ranks the countries on how youth-friendly they are.
South Africa, I am ashamed to say, is ranked number 63 out of 64 on the list. What does this mean, you may wonder?
Well, according to Stats SA’s Vulnerable Groups Survey, it means that the prospects of young people living in South Africa are grim indeed:
• It means that young South Africans are more susceptible than any other age group to violence and crime;
• And it also means that young men are most likely to die of unnatural causes like violent crime or car accidents while infectious diseases like HIV, AIDs and TB are most likely to cause the death of young women.
Hon. Speaker, the proof is in the pudding – Youth Day remains but an inconvenient reminder of what government has failed to achieve for this country’s young people and there can be no denying that youth development in South Africa is completely out of touch with the realities faced by the youth:
• Many young South Africans are still waiting for their symbolic FREEDOM to become real freedom that they can use;
• Many young South Africans are still waiting for a time when FAIRNESS means a society where their efforts are matched by their rewards;
• And many young South Africans are still waiting for the OPPORTUNITY to make a better life for themselves and their families.
This has to change. Young people need and deserve to be recognized as the powerful agents of social transformation and change that many will become.
So how do we turn the future around for our youth?
1. Firstly, this can be done through the provision of quality schooling and post school training. This must be coupled with increasing assistance to struggling students to enable them acquire relevant qualifications and in turn skills.
2. Secondly, we need an overhaul of the current jobs strategy, which must be remodeled to ensure that young people are incorporated back into the economy. In this regard, the creation of additional entry-level jobs must be increased by ensuring adequate support to small-business and youth labour markets. Opportunities must also be increased to allow young school leavers to enter the job market and gain on-the job experience.
3. Thirdly, we also need deep structural reform that will see government cutting unnecessary red tape to ensure a business-friendly regulatory environment.
4. And lastly, we need job-creating investment, like expansion of public transport systems and roll out of broadband services that will create local conditions for business to flourish.
Hon. Speaker, I want to close this debate on an inspirational note.
I want the youth, and everyone else out there to know that while our economy is crumbling, services are falling apart and hope has become a long lost word, things don’t have to be this way.
In this regard, the DA has a Vision in which we see Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity turned into a reality by 2029, after 10 years of a DA-led government:
• We see a South Africa where rising unemployment has not only been halted but rather cut in half because our focus is on growing the economy to create jobs;
• We see a South Africa where all the state’s money gets spent on delivering services to the people because we don’t tolerate corruption;
• We see a safe and peaceful South Africa, where no one is above the law, because we believe in the Rule of Law;
• And most importantly, we see a South Africa where young people can dream big.
I want to categorically state that this vision is not just a dream but that it is in fact achievable.
All it needs is a DA-led government to make it a reality – unlike the ANC, the DA will resume the fight started by the youth 40 years ago for opportunities for all through quality education.
Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
Spokesperson on Economic Development
179 874 6179
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387