Media briefing on newly appointed NYDA board

25 May 2017

Media statement by NYDA Executive Chairperson Mr Sifiso Mtsweni at the media briefing to outline the strategic focus and direction of the newly appointed NYDA Board (#Nydaboard) for the duration of their term in office 

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the presence of the Honourable Ms Regina Lesoma (MP), who is a member of the Portfolio Committee for Public Services & Administration. We appreciate your presence. I would like to also acknowledge my fellow Board Members and the Executive of the NYDA. A special welcome and acknowledgement to the members of the media who are present today. You are an important stakeholder who keeps us accountable to the youth and helps us get the word out to the young people. We acknowledge the crucial role that you play.

Today Africa celebrates the 54th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) established on the 25th May 1963, and later renamed the African Union (AU) in 2002.

A defining moment wherein Africa rejected the colonial and imperialist domination of the continent. We take this moment to hail Africa’s unity towards emancipation of its people. Part of the successes of this union has been a policy framework for youth development in Africa. The African Youth Charter remains a blueprint of youth development across African states. It continues to guide our action towards outing youth at the centre of governments’ developmental plan through the National Youth Policy (2015-2020). 

We welcome government’s celebrations of Africa Month 2017 under the theme “The Year of OR Tambo: Building a Better Africa and a Better World” as reaffirming support for the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and commitment to the country’s role within the AU to ensure the successful implementation of the vision and plan to build a better Africa.

Killing of Women & Children

As the newly appointed Board of the National Youth Development Agency, we come into office at a troubling time in our country. It is a very sad time indeed and it saddens us greatly to see so many lives of women and children being lost in the manner that we have seen in the recent past. We seem to be a nation that is at war with its women, what has happened to us as a people? Despite the many laws and policies that we have in our country that favourable and seeks to empower women, yet many women suffer indescribable abuse and some at the hands of the very same people who are supposed to protect them.

The lost lives of Karabo Mokoena, Lerato Moloi, the young Nombuyiselo Nombewu from Jourbeton,

Klerksdorp; Bongeka Phungula and Popi Qwabe, 3-year-old baby Courtney Pieters of Elsiesriver in Cape Town and many others cannot be in vain. This cannot and should not be allowed to continue any further. We need to take a stand as a nation and preserve the future which is our youth. More needs to be done through our law enforcement agencies to curb the violence against women.

Status of Youth

As we come into office, we are also cognisant of the fact that as much as a lot has been achieved in the space of youth development, more needs to be done.

There are many issues facing the youth of this country and the most prevalent being youth unemployment. The latest unemployment figure by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) means that the gap between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have nots’ has widened even further, which has catastrophic implications for the country’s economic growth ambitions. The latest unemployment rate (26.7%) for the first quarter of 2016 means that 5.5-million people out 35.8-million of South Africa’s working age were without a job during the first four months of the 2016. This is the highest reading since September 2005. South Africa remains one of the most ‘unequal’ societies in the world and what these unemployment figures show is that 23 years later after the advent of democracy, many people still struggle to make ends meet or afford a decent living.  

Of the 5.5-million officially unemployed people in South Africa, 65.9% are youth. This makes unemployment predominantly a youth employment problem. Extremely high youth unemployment numbers have an impact on both the economic and social landscape of a country.

According to the social impact study by GCIS (Government Communications & Information System):

  • Education levels of South African youth is concerning. Only 8% of the employed and the unemployed have tertiary education. 
  • Majority of our youth are in the rural and informal settlements- Rooted realists. 
  • Youth in the cities (City Seekers) are mainly optimistic and appreciative of social grants but believe in a better life through decent work despite challenges of financial distress, lack of opportunities, poor education. This is in line with the call that the young people made during the National Youth Policy (NYP2020) consultations that they need a “Hand Up” and not a “Hand Out”.

Proud Moments

Not all is doom and gloom! We are still seeing today the great zeal and spirit that drove activists such as Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu to lay down their own lives for us to enjoy the fruits of freedom today. During his trial, Solomon said “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight". Today, we are seeing some of the fruits of his sacrifice that are starting to emerge in the academia space. 

We congratulate and welcome the appointment of Professor Thabo Msibi as the Dean and Head for School of Education (SoE) by the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN). At 34 years of age, Prof Msibi is inspiring a new generation of academics who are set to change the status quo in academia. This appointment is indeed futuristic in its thinking as it recognises the role that young people have to play in moving our country forward in line with what the National Development Plan (NDP2030) seeks to achieve.

We also have Dr Salome Maswime, who at 34 has recently obtained her PhD as a Clinician Scientist Fellow at Wits. She is the Director and Lecturer for the Wits University’s Obstetrics & Gynaecology Clinical Research Division and also works as an Obstetrics & Gynaecologist at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. We applaud her commitment to public service. While some doctors choose to pursue the lucrative path of opening a private practice, Dr Maswime is committed to remaining in the public service and improving the lives of the mothers and infants from the most vulnerable communities of our societies.

These appointments at these universities guarantee the future of our higher education institutions and we hope they will inspire other young people to look at this field as a field of choice. It further opens up dialogue about our education system and its throughput as we consider access to higher education critical for youth development.

We support the call made by the Department of Higher Education to set up a Ministerial Task Team to investigate an anomaly that 23 years into democracy, that 83% of all university professors are white which stood at 66% in 2015.  

Acknowledging Work Done 

As we take over the reins of the NYDA, we must acknowledge the good work that has been do over the recent years to turn this institution around. 

The institution has moved and matured in leaps and bounds from a place where it was characterised by under performance and irregular expenditures that amounted to millions of rands. The turnaround has seen the Agency achieve its highest performance ever in its history and Clean Audits in two consecutive years.

As the new Board, good governance remains our priority. 

The New Strategic Focus

As we stir this ship forward, we want to build on the positive legacy that is starting to emerge. In terms of the way forward, the following are the key strategic areas that we will be focusing as the Board. 

We want to see and do the following happening:

  • Take the NYDA back to the young people.
  • To see more branches established across the country. We will be launching three new office in the near future.
  • To rebrand the Agency to reflect the character of the youth of today.
  • Improve on our communications strategy to make sure it speaks the language of the youth and resonates with them.
  • Meet with all youth formations to present our plans and get their buy in for the programme that we will be having for Youth Month. We all understand that collaboration in youth development is key.
  • Speed up the process of amending the NYDA Act from Section 75 to Section 76, so that we will be able to establish of Provincial Boards of the NYDA.
  • As part of our mission to mainstream youth development in all sectors of society, we will convene all Youth Directorates and Youth Units in provincial and local governments so that we align youth development programmes into one. This will assist the NYDA in playing the coordination role. We will convene a Summit that will speak to this process.
  • Lobby government and private to deal with the issue of youth (ONLY) set-asides. When you look at government contracts/business for instance, at least 30% must be allocated to the youth.
  • Challenge government and private sector to ensure that at least 40% of the workforce must be youth graduates. We have a crisis of youth graduates in the country that are not employed. 
  • We are not happy about the budget that has been allocated to the NYDA, we feel that more can be done. We will engage with the National Treasury. But we understand that we need to be creative with what we have. 
  • To support youth enterprises further that what the NYDA is currently doing, we are looking at establishing two funds which are:

a) Youth Fund: 

  • For this fund, we are looking at engaging government and private to pledge funds and make investment into the fund.
  • The funds will be used to fund youth owned enterprises that need funding to grow that falls outside of what the NYDA Grant Fund R100 000 threshold. b) Skills Fund:
  • We will engage the SETA’s and Department of Labour to set a fund that will deal with the skilling and training of artisans.

Both funds must raise at least R1bn each. We are looking at a model that will have an Investment Committee that will sit and review funding requests from young people. The Committee would be made up of members from all the stakeholder to ensure good governance and that the funds go where they are supposed to, which is to the young people.

The Investment Committee will be made up of people from both public and private sector that understand and have experience in funding businesses.

  • As part of Youth Month, we will also be meeting with young people in the arts and culture space. We was to meet with actors, musicians, dancers etc. to engage them on the challenges they are facing in this space.
  • We also want to look into sports and recreation. We want to meet with young people in different sporting codes and try and understand the challenges that they face in the industry
  • We will also look into issues that are faced by young people in the space of sports and recreation. We will be meeting with soccer and rugby stars to try and get to understand the issue they face.

In terms of the NYDA as an organisation, we are committed to maintaining prudent financial management and to retain the Clean Audit. We acknowledge that the Executive of the NYDA has done well and as a result, the Board is not looking to replace anyone in the team. We are not looking into changing a system that works. We will also focus more on performance output and make sure that they are made public so that the public knows what we are doing.

In closing, as we reminisce as a country on the life and values of OR Tambo as we have declared that 2017 is The Year of OR Tambo, let us never forget his wise words:

“A country that does not take care of its youth does not deserve its future”.

Let these words serve as a caution for all of us to do right by our youth. They are our future.

I thank you!

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