Youth Power – Growing South Africa together in a time of Covid-19
Fellow South Africans
The United Democratic Movement Youth Vanguard (UDMYV) salutes the frontline workers and those in healthcare who place their lives in the firing line, fighting the invisible enemy. We also would like to convey our deepest condolences to the families of those South Africans who have succumbed to the Coronavirus.
The UDMYV also congratulates Prof Zeblon Vilakazi on being appointed as Chancellor of Wits University. We believe that adequate transformation will be seen at that institution.
Honourable Chairperson, it is almost a decade since the inception of the first sitting of the South African Youth Parliament in 2011, an initiative that was welcomed by the UDM Youth Vanguard.
Young people had gathered in this house to deliberate on the issues affecting young people, ranging from economic participation, prejudice, inequality, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and unemployment.
Little did we know that today we would gather in this house and still deliberate the very same issues, still seeking solutions. In fact, we now know, and Covid-19 has proven, that government has not been serious about solving our challenges as youth.
The UDM Youth Vanguard believes that we find ourselves barely existing in a society of crumbs, whilst the rich, connected elite and the politically powerful enjoy themselves at the expense of the poor masses.
Twenty-six years into democracy and South Africa ranks as one of the most unequal societies in the world, with the formerly oppressed still having no opportunities and living in squalor.
Our mostly geriatric cabinet has no clue how to deal with young people or their plight.
We have for years said that it is necessary to have young people in all kinds of decision-making positions. It is of no use to appoint a token young person as a minister who does not even deal with youth matters.
Youth unemployment has increased dramatically because of the Covid-19 lockdown and the end is not in sight.
Another thing the pandemic has proven, is our country’s lack of innovation and research tools. South Africa will need an economic repositioning, which focuses on youth and skills development. We no longer want to hear lip service; we want rigorous action.
We must get past the stumbling blocks that hamper our progress as young people. As it stands our education system does not adequately prepare young people for the future, or the job market, it needs a massive overhaul. It generates dropouts and perpetual jobseekers.
The UDM Youth Vanguard believes that there must be a greater focus on building young people to be job-creators – skilling them to, for instance, be innovators and artisans, work the land and produce food and start small businesses that can grow. Such a transformed education system must speak to today’s needs considering the current industrial revolution.
We note that young graduates sit at home hoping for a better, viable economic homeland. Their NSFAS debts are accumulating interest, meaning even if they are employed, they are already sinking in financial deficits.
The UDMYV proposes that government must be obliged to hire those who they invest in. Failing which, if a graduate sits for over 5 years being unemployed, his/her debt must be scratched. We further propose that for every R250 000.00 spent by government, must be equal to one graduate employed.
Lastly, the UDM Youth Vanguard has a lingering question for President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Lindiwe Zulu. Where is their R350 Social Distress Relief Fund monies? Aphi ama R350 of the unemployed siyawafuna maqabane, the promise was made in April and still today millions of young people sifile yindlala, siphatshe imilomo as such millions of young South Africans are without data and do not have the privilege to watch this session on a paid television platform. We want the R350 to be a permanent grant for the unemployed and it should be increased to at least R1000 a month.