Which young South African would at the moment trust anything that President Cyril Ramaphosa says or would say? His yearly state of the nation addresses (SONAs) came off as mere “motivational speeches” and he has nothing to show for it.
He is best at repeating the same message and promises using different words, singing in a different tune. President Ramaphosa, the nation’s “Cupcake”, is in a wrong calling.
President Ramaphosa rose to power in 2018, taking over from President Jacob Zuma, who presided over what he termed as “nine wasted years” that he conveniently forgets he was a part of. In that year President Ramaphosa made several ambitious promises to the youth of South Africa and to date there has been no positive impact on us.
Rightfully so he said that young people are languishing in poverty, a sad and painful reality. It is even worse now with the impact of Covid-19. Then we have a president, who will never in his entire life subsist on R350 per month, deciding that a mere R350 is a feasible amount for our poor to buy even enough food for their families for an entire month. Now this government is going around claiming that this R350 has made a difference in a world where the cost of living is too high to even purchase the very basics.
The youth unemployment rate has skyrocketed, meaning those who had jobs have lost jobs since 2018 and no new jobs have been created. So much for President Ramaphosa’s promises. Will he hide behind the Covid-19 pandemic in this SONA 2021?
What we cannot understand is under which influence the President is when making these promises. At one point in 2018, President Ramaphosa promised to create a million jobs for young people over the course of three years and dololo imisebenzi, meshomo, mbereko.
President Ramaphosa was speaking at a visit to the late Queen Noloyiso Sandile of Amarharhabe Royal Kingdom at Mngqeshe Great Place (may her soul rest in peace) outside King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. His promises included, but were not limited to, getting young people off the streets and stopping them gallivanting in malls, but rather creating jobs and placing them in the agricultural sector and building the Eastern Cape economy. We wonder if he will account for this at his SONA today.
The President will today surely again talk about jobs, what he however will not tell us young South Africans is that the jobs are not sustainable. He will speak of internships that are solely to give young people experience for the workplace. This is not sustainable job creation for a sustainable future. The President is good at, and should be applauded for, hosting events such as the jobs summits. However, with the two summits that have promised massive investment, we still ask about the jobs that were meant to have been created by these events.
One of the biggest challenges facing the country is the mismatch between the jobs of the future and unemployment. There are about 133 million jobs to be created according to the World Economic Forum in technology especially in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). The President and our country’s leaders are using this term but do not seem to have an idea about what it entails and what it is going to bring. It is an enormous opportunity for young people to get involved because it is something that is new.
However, our youth lack the skills to prepare them for the 4IR and our government is lagging in leadership. The world is moving into the artificial intelligence space and the young people of our country have no idea how to tap into this revolution, which is going to change the world of work; initiatives are only centred around coding as if that is the only thing pertinent to 4IR. Will we see any leadership on this score from the President?
It is a clear indication of how the man who has been entrusted to look after the interest of South Africans, the majority being the youth, are out of touch with the realities on the ground and that of the future. A visionless leadership will not take this country forward.
The United Democratic Movement Youth Vanguard (UDM Youth Vanguard) proposes programmes for the South African youth that are modelled on and equipped with smart technology.
Children in classrooms should be exposed to media, new trends and innovation. This needs to be an environment where they can come up with ideas, experiment and explore, for them to have such an ability, the learning and or classroom environment must be safe and conducive.
Social media is growing all the time and behind all of that there are jobs and business opportunities. Young people should be trained to be data scientist; to know what information to put forward; they need to be trained to collect information, make sense of it, and then monetise that information. That is an example of job and small business creation.
We need to prepare our youth for theoretical, laboratory and on-the-job training for their participation in the 4IR in order to provide them with practical experience. There are opportunities in search engine optimisation and how to position companies better, because that is how people buy nowadays. Our young people can do that.
Government needs to create an environment that allows the creation of a live 5G network here in South Africa that will create new services and products for the future and give our children and youth opportunities. There are only two other such innovations in the world – one in America and the other in Finland. We have the potential to be the third, globally. South Africa’s greatest export is its people.
We need to address the needs of young people – how we identify great talent, how we get them to the right classroom environment, education, practical experience and matching them to jobs or enterprise opportunities is imperative.
We need a fresh mind and type of thinking in order to stimulate and rebuild our economy. That cannot be done by a president whose decisions are questionable. That cannot be done by a President who allowed a purchase for a Covid-19 vaccine that is expiring in two months and is not as effective to fight the virus after spending so much money on the project. This is gross negligence and sets a tone of being unfit of leading this country; from its president right down to its ministers. However, the UDM Youth Vanguard is not surprised because President Ramaphosa is forever surprised about what is going on in his country and under his watch.
Young people are ready to lead this country, they have a clear vision, and young people have the stamina to run the extra mile and far beyond expectations and dreams. They are ready to occupy positions in corporations; the gate keepers need to move. We want to steer South Africa in the direction of Integrity, Dignity and Prosperity. A country that is a shining beacon of hope for the development of Africa and the world to see.
We will not accept excuses and using a pandemic to justify or explain inherent failures. Promises were not fulfilled way before the “new dawn” of the Coronavirus.
The South African youth rejects this president and his party in the upcoming local government elections. Take back your power and vote for the UDM.
Mr Yongama Zigebe
UDM Youth Vanguard