Speech by Executive Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (Nyda), Mr Sifiso Mtsweni on the occasion of Youth Day, 16 June 2019 held at Polokwane Cricket Pitch, Polokwane
Today, exactly forty-three (43) ago South Africa’s youth marched the streets against a brutal apartheid education system and a colonial regime. Spearheading a later call by Oliver Reginal Tambo to “Make Apartheid Unworkable! Make South Africa Ungovernable! Prepare the Conditions for the Seizure of Power by the People”.
Young people abandoned their aspirations and dreams of acquiring an education because that form of draconian education took away their dignity. They had gone tired of watching their parents reduced to lesser human beings as other racial counterparts.
This year this historic day of martyrdom takes place in the same year our young democracy turns twenty-five years. Youth DAY 2019 is commemorated under the theme “25 Years of Democracy: A celebration of Youth Activism”. An important highlight of this day must be the fact that ten (10) years ago on this day, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) was formed.
Speaking at the official launch, then President Jacob Zuma said “It must initiate, design, co-ordinate, evaluate and monitor all programmes aimed at integrating the youth into the economy and society in general…develop an Integrated Youth Development Plan and Strategy without delay….
We expect the Agency to initiate programmes directed at poverty alleviation, urban and rural development and the combating of crime, substance abuse and social decay amongst youth…Agency to initiate programmes directed at poverty alleviation, urban and rural development and the combating of crime, substance abuse and social decay amongst youth…We urge the Agency to assist government in promoting all young people stay in school until they finish matric…We also expect the Agency to assist in promoting youth participation in democratic processes, community and civic decision-making and development at all levels".
As we celebrate #NYDA10 we must account to the youth of South Africa whom unlike Tumelo Chauke from Giyani a tomato farmer from Limpopo Province. Many other young people continue to narrate their stories on daily basis. Today we are joined by beneficiaries of the NYDA from the NYS Programme, namely Clara Ramokgopa, Wilma Mpata Kekana, and Sihle Ntshidi. Educational attainment continues to improve in South Africa. The percentage of individuals aged 20 years and older who did not have any education decreased from 11,4% in 2002 to 4,5% in 2018, while those with at least a grade 12 qualification increased from 30,5% to 45,2% over the same period. Inter-generational functional literacy has also decreased markedly.
While 57,8% of South Africans over the age of 60 years did not at least complete a grade 7 qualification, this figure dropped to only 4,4% for those aged 20 ̶ 39 years of age. Less than six per cent (5,5%) of adults over the age of 20 years were considered illiterate.
Today South Africa produces four times the amount of black graduates than we did in 1994. Our graduate unemployment rate is approximately 5% compared to a national unemployment of 27%. It is not uncommon to see South African doctors, scientists and accountants gracing the world stage for extraordinary feats.
NYDA believes in young people becoming the owners of the economy. NYDA has funded over Over the last five financial years we have funded 4 500 entrepreneurs and have created 15 000 jobs. Those of you who run your own business knows what this means. You can earn a little more money for your family. You can provide more for your children. And then there’s the pride that comes from creating something new and improving the lives of those around you. And that’s the power of entrepreneurship.
It’s about self-determination -- the opportunity to forge your own future. It’s the belief that even if you don’t have much -- maybe just a kitchen, or a sewing machine, or a car -- if you’re willing to work hard, you can make your own way and improve your situation in life for the next generation. It’s the spirit of youth -- talented and driven, daring young people like so many of you ready to make your mark on the world.
We believe in the story of Sibusiso Malambule who lost his father at the tender age of seven (7). Raised in rural KwaZulu Natal by a widowed single parent, Malambule, saw a need to improve the living conditions in his home. The reason he decided to start a business was because of lack of job opportunities.
He had no work experience to access job opportunities. In his quest to start his own business, Malambule found the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) on the internet and recalls that the one thing that stood out about the organisation was its willingness to assist aspiring entrepreneurs who are under-privileged just like him. The NYDA assisted Malambule with a grant worth R50 000 for his IT business, Malux IT Solutions. Transnet and SEDA also played a role in kick-starting his business. Malux IT Solutions now employs three (3) fulltime employees
His Excellency, we must today use this platform to provide support the response you gave in response to a tweet by @MalumeJabuli under the auspices of the #HolaMatamela after he said, “I don’t see the purpose of the NYDA…I can’t get any assistance from them”.
Honourable President, we stand here to appreciate the support you continue to give to the agency cemented in your assertion in response to this fellow South African when you said “Bra yaka, the NYDA is a structure that was requested and demanded by young people. It has been set up and its working wonders for the young people it has been able to reach. I would ask you to continue reaching out because in the end if you are sitting in a corner how will get it”.
Programme Director, in the spirit of the Presidential call for Thuma Mina, we cannot underscore the importance of uzoyithola kanjani uhlele ekoneni as an important principle that youth must adhere to at times.
We gather in the Year of the Youth as declared by the NYDA. A year committed to dealing decisively with the challenges facing young people. Our youth are the hardest hit by triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and unemployment.
Programme Director, South Africa has recently went to the polls for its 6th democratic election amidst a blurry image about the future as painted by Statistics South Africa. A great emphasis placed on the rising number of young people Not in Employment Education nor Training (NEET). A lot of eligible young people eligible to votes abstained from voting by registering and not showing face at election day whilst other did not bother to register. Is our democracy at danger at the face of inheritance not showing interest about the future of our democracy?
Programme Director, at the centre of any county’s developmental agenda should be its youth. The National Development Plan (2030) singles out young people as key to the development of the country. It highlights that South Africa’s youthful population presents an opportunity to boost economic growth, increase employment and reduce poverty. Today, 43 years later we must earnestly reflect on this view and ask pertinent question on the trajectory we are traversing as the youth are hopeless on future prospects.
Today we must be able to indicate that the National Youth Policy (2020) currently under review is in course. I will reflect on the latter point however I rather focus on our ten-year scorecard and way forward to most hopeless young people. We must be able to give an account on how government policy and strategic interventions have managed to alleviate poverty and encourage amongst many young South Africa.
At the launch of youth month as Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto I maintained that the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 proposes the strengthening of youth service programmes and the introduction of new, community-based initiatives to offer young people life skills training and entrepreneurship training. It is in this context that we are implementing that NYS program. It is a direct response to the lack of patriotism amongst young people through the National Youth Service Programme (NYSP).
Amongst the many calls like when we called for the scrapping of experience as requirement for all entry level vacancy which the government has responded positively, is the demand to have a compulsory National Youth Service as a country. His Excellency, the NYDA launched its National Youth Service Day on the 14th June 2019. This day will be celebrated every year until the government legislates a compulsory National Youth Service to its young people.
Since the inception of this programme we are delighted to amongst other report that the programme went through different phases with pockets of successes and challenges. Of importance to note are:
- the institutionalisation of the programme within the construction and infrastructure sector implemented by the Departments of Public Works and Human Settlements – these departments plan, budget and implement the programme annually with minimal technical support from the National Youth Service Unit . This is an artisan development programme that recruits and trains young people in construction and technical skills to prepare them for their participation in government construction and infrastructure projects. This programme accounts for a bigger number of young people participating in the NYS programme.
- the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) is one of the successful NYS project, still being implemented by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, since 2010 -. Since its inception NARYSEC has recruited 22341 (as on 30 April 2018) rural youth in all 9 Provinces. It exposes participants to different skills fields which focus on instilling a culture of discipline, patriotism, community service as well as technical and vocational skills that equip participants with skills on Construction, Agriculture, Household profiling, Welding and Records Management amongst others.
- The Department of Sport and Recreation National Youth Camps – the objective of the camps is to develop young people, and empower them with the requisite values, soft-skills and knowledge that can assist them to become responsible, conscious citizens and to strengthen their sense of patriotism and national identity.
- The Department of Social Development Youth Camps – young people are engaged in different activities aimed at promoting leadership development, social cohesion and nation building.
- The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Youth in Environmental Services (YES) Programme – participants are involved in activities which provide environmental service that benefits the community whilst they are also provided with opportunities for personal development, accredited training and exit opportunities.
- The Transnet Youth Artisan Development Programme – recruit and train young people in different disciplines of engineering at Transnet campuses.
- City Year Youth Service and Leadership Development Programme – the focus of the initiative is to place young volunteers, or Service Leaders as we call them, in primary schools and or with other service sites, where they act as tutors, mentors and role models to children.
- The Civil Society Volunteer Programmes in partnership with the government of the Flanders provides opportunities for both volunteer opportunity providers and young people seeking volunteer opportunities.
The success of the NYS programme as implemented by the NYDA is because of partnership with the following stakeholders:
- Department of Public Works and Infrastructure - through its EPWP Programme
- Department of Employment and Labour, UIF ( working with unemployed young people on the UIF data base)
- Department of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation, through its Youth Brigade Programme
- Department of Sports, Arts and Culture - Sports Camps and The Young Patriots programme
Most provincial departments and municipalities across SA
Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development through its NARYSEC Programme, to name a few.
National Youth Service International Exchange Programme:
- Flemish Government - 20 year support of Youth Volunteerism in SA and providing support for youth led community based organisations.
- Namibia/ SA Programme: Youth placed in various governments departments in both SA and Namibia
- Tanzania / SA Programme : Youth exchange programme between SA and Tanzania.
His Excellency, South Africa does not boost on a national youth service programme. It is in this context that amongst the many demands we are making as the NYDA including provision of a R2 Billion budget we demand a promulgation of an NYS Act that will assist in the following:
- Extend Community service beyond medical and related fields in HEIs
- Give dignity to young people in social security
- Give hope to the NEET group
The #NYDA10 celebrations cont give a detailed account of the road travelled. We look at ushering a new era in youth development. We will look at the successes and failures on youth development issues. Our celebrations look at how far we have gone as far as the following is concerned:
- Merger of the National Youth Commission (NYC) and Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF).
- Signing of the Youth Employment Accord by business, government, labour, civil society and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to improve the equipping and placement of young people in jobs, and generally make the economy sensitive to the employment needs of young people. The aim of the accord was to realize the creation of 5 million jobs by the year 2020.
- Establishment of the Presidential Working Group on Youth Presidential Youth Working Group (PYWG) to spearhead mainstreaming and integration of youth development into government policies, programmes and the national budget.
- Adoption of the National Youth Policy (2015-2020) which aims to have youth development programmes in place that respond to the challenges faced by the youth of South Africa and enable young people to have agency and take charge of their future.
- Success and Challenges of the NYDA (includes Integrated Youth Development Strategy, Removal of Experience)
- Recent commitment at Jobs Summit and Investment Conference.
South Africa’s youth will be convened at a colloquium to discuss their future amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The session will see previous Executive and Board Members of the NYDA in conversation about the imminent departure from a sporadic implementation of youth development affairs to a more uniform approach.
Though we welcome the reconfiguration of cabinet, we are yet to here how that speaks to youth development as there seems to be a different approach across provinces. President, we can afford any longer that youth development affairs are subject to a desk or portfolio within a particular sphere. We have done our part in the repealing of the NYDA act to allow for more access. We have also achieved our mandate to come up with an Integrated Youth Development Strategy (IYDS). We have produced the Status of Youth Report and expect business to play a meaningful role moving forward.
His Excellency, we have consulted many young people about their expectations on the address you about to deliver this morning. All they asked of the NYDA is to relay that “khuwuleza” President in your promise to make youth role players in the mainstream economy of the country. Our youth aspire for the success of South Africa, as the National Youth Policy dictates their demand for a hand up and not a hand out!
I thank you.