Address by the Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the Youth Sector Consultative Workshop on Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa, 17 January 2006

Chairperson of the National Youth Commission, Jabu Mbalula,
Chairperson of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, Malose Kekana,
Youth leaders from various formations,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

This year will see the 30th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising, which took place on the 16th of June 1976, where the youth of our country were catapulted to the centre-stage of the national democratic struggle. Since then the role of the youth has gained new significance and the youth have played a leading role in the struggle to liberate the country from the shackles of apartheid.

One of the outcomes of this leading role of the youth was that the majority of the youth of our country saw the attainment of liberation as the most urgent task. As a result, the late eighties and early nineties saw the development of a concept of a marginalised youth.

With the dawn of the democratic dispensation in 1994, the marginalisation of the youth had reached crisis proportions. Since 1994, however, the government has embarked on a number of initiatives to deal with this legacy of youth marginalisation.

Before 1994 South Africa had never institutionalized youth development issues. The democratic government has worked hard to ensure that it reverses that situation. The following are the steps the democratic order has taken to ensure that youth development is part of the national transformation process:

  • The inclusion of youth development in the Reconstruction and Development Plan,
  • The setting up of Youth Commissions with advisory powers, to lobby and advocate for the implementation of youth development programme by government departments,
  • The adoption of the National Youth Development Policy Framework. The Policy identifies five areas of strategic intervention for sustainable youth development. These are: social well-being, youth economic participation and empowerment, education and training, justice and safety,
  • The setting up of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund.

While the government has put all these systems and structures in place, many challenges do, however, remain. Among these is the fact that youth constitute the majority of the poor and unemployed:

  • 70% of the unemployed in SA are youths below the age of 35,
  • youth unemployment is highest in the 25-29 age bracket.

There are also challenges that relate to the programmatic and organisational issues of the youth commission that still need to addressed. Among these are:

  • The broad and relevant mandate of the National Youth Commission,
  • Specific mandate of Umsobomvu Youth Fund on promotion of youth economic participation,
  • Perceived duplication in the work of the National Youth Commission and Umsobomvu Youth Fund,
  • Youth need a "one-stop-shop" on youth development,

Government decided to support the process of the review of youth development institutions in South Africa.

The Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa aims to half unemployment and accelerate economic growth. The youth and women should be the major beneficiaries of this as the sectors that are highly affected by unemployment. As part of the ASGI-SA the Government will be spending R 370 billion rands on infrastructure development, youth must position itself correctly in order to benefit from this.

We must think about how youth businesses should benefit, how much of this amount should go towards youth enterprises, and implement strategies that will meet these objectives.

This poses a challenge to us to ensure that we fast-track the development of youth skills both in general areas and in specific priority skills that are required by the economy, for an example in Project Management and artisan skills.

We must also pay a special attention to Unemployed Graduates and ensure that we place them in jobs through the UYF and Standard Bank Databases.

We must also ensure that we link up the new youth professionals with the Retired Skills program that is spearheaded by the DBSA which has already started at municipal level.

Matriculants should also be assisted by way of re-opening of trade schools and by developing their entrepreneurial skills.

We need to ensure that the youth are participating in numbers in Business Outsourcing Process (BOPs), ICT and Tourism Sectors. There are real opportunities for the youth in the development of township tourism as tour guides, language interpreters, participating in the development of souvenir businesses and ensuring the safety of tourists who come to our townships.

Our second Economy initiatives like the Expanded Public Works Program should be geared towards dealing with youth unemployment and skills development. There should be training of youth around areas of early childhood development and home based care-givers for people who are sick and old.

As a way of resolving some of these challenges, Government has agreed that as part of a "build-up to 30th Anniversary to June 16" the country will convene a Youth Development Convention to undertake the task of reviewing these institutions as part of the broader policy review process.

Integration of Youth Development:

Government has also resolved that youth development must be an integrated process. The approach is that the following steps should be taken to ensure that this objective is realized:

  • Government clusters will need to incorporate youth development as part of the Programme of Action,
  • Positioning of youth development in government departments must be streamlined, for instance Youth Directorates will have to be situated in the offices of the Directors General,
  • Incorporation of youth development into the business plans of government departments,
  • Localisation of youth development by incorporating it into the Integrated Development Plans,
  • Rollout of the National Youth Service programme is under way,
  • Youth have a role in the social transformation of our country, fighting poverty and contributing to the creation of work,
  • Government Departments should integrate youth service into their existing programmes,
  • Youth service should be localized by integrating it into Integrated Development Plans and Local Economic Developments,
  • Education department should incorporate youth service into the curriculum,
  • The need to learn from our fellow brothers and sisters on the African Continent, (countries such as Nigeria have implemented successful models on youth service)

The youth have been critical of the role the private sector has been playing in youth development. Considering the resources amassed by the private sector, very little is being done that responds to the youth development objectives as articulated in the National Youth Development Policy Framework.

The "one company one learner" of the National Youth Commission should be accelerated to allow more youth to receive experiential training and ultimately to get absorbed into the world of work.

Izimbizo should serve as one of the primary vehicles to popularise youth development work, MPPCs should serve as information hubs for youth development,

Need to develop relevant strategies to communicate our youth development work to rural youth, young women, young African males, and young people with disabilities.

I wish you well as you deliberate around the challenges that face the youth. I hope that this consultative process will find responses to these challenges confronting our youth, not forgetting the role of the NEPAD Youth Desk that you will need to collaborate with, because South Africa cannot afford to deal only with only its issues without addressing issues of development within the continent as a whole.

Thank you.

Issued by : The Presidency

18 January 2006

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