South Africa’s youth faces many social challenges, which many feel are not being adequately addressed. From unemployment, poverty and inequality, disengaging in the labour market is leaving many young people disgruntled. According to the 2018 Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Statistics South Africa, in the first quarter of 2018, 3.3 million young people between the ages of 15 to 24 were not in employment, education, or training. With Youth Month coming up, it may seem like young people should prepare themselves with long frivolous speeches from government on how they pledge to end their daily social struggles.
Government youth organisations are all set out and ready to launch projects they regard would help young people this Youth Month. Take the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) for instance. The agency established by an Act of Parliament (Act 54 of 2008) to address and tackle the socio-economic issues faced by young people of this country. The organisation hosted a media briefing on the initiatives it was planning on launching in June. The chairperson, Sifiso Mtsweni, said the organisation is working towards the call for 40% youth representation across all government departments and all jobs in the private sector, and called for government to scrap experience as a requirement for entry-level jobs. Although this can be seen as an important call, considering the fact that the number of unemployed graduates is currently sitting at over 40%, one cannot help but wonder how long this call will take, when it will be implemented, and when young people can expect a response to this call.
With no direct or detailed plan on how the NYDA planned on doing this, a question came to mind on whether or not if these plans were guaranteed to be a success. Young people have been speaking out on the lack of more proactive approaches to address issues like unemployment and inequality in this country, and to say the least, it is quite disappointing to find out that young people are not being listened to by our government.
The organisation condemned the killing of and violence against women. The NYDA said it will be raise awareness and “drive programs aimed at conscientising young men on this scourge”, and also have necessary dialogues with students at universities. Violence against women has been an ongoing crisis both nationally and throughout the world. Dialogues and discussions have been hosted for many years, speaking against gender-based violence, but with women still being murdered by their intimate partners every eight hours, there clearly hasn’t been any tangible change in society.
High ranking public figures, like the likes of Mduduzi Manana are still making headlines in the media for violating women, and still get to keep their jobs. It would really be interesting to find out if there had been any successful dialogues that have vastly contributed towards the protection of women and children in South Africa.
The 0.4 percent increase in youth unemployment in South Africa is a red flag. Inequality has been an issue in South Africa that needs more than dialogues in order to be tackled. Gathering men into a room and telling them to stop abusing, killing and raping women clearly does not help with anything because these men refuse to listen. Young people need proactiveness. This is not to say no attempts have been made by youth organisations like the NYDA, but hosting events in stadiums and telling young people they are faced with unemployment is definitely not a solution. And can we please also stop splitting struggles into seasons because waiting for certain dates and months to address urgent and stifling issues is also not a solution.