Gauteng premier David Makhura delivered the State of the Province Address (SOPA) at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus on Monday morning. “In the next/first 100 days” seems to be the best phrase to summarise the speech. This is the deadline Makhura has set for a lot of the plans he wants to see implemented in the gold mine province, Gauteng. But what does it mean for the youth of Gauteng? The Daily Vox answers this question by looking at what Makhura said about the youth, employment and education, and also speaks to political analysts to find out.
The state of the province address (SOPA) is a localised version of the state of the nation address (SONA) delivered by the premier of the province to reflect on achievements and communicate commitments and action plans in respect to key areas in governing the province, including education and employment.
In Gauteng’s SOPA, the premier David Makhura heavily reiterated his deadline for members of the executive council (MECs) to formulate plans and strategies for their respective departments being “100 days”.
With the unemployment rate in Gauteng standing at 28.9 percent, the premier needed to say something concrete to give the youth some substantial reasons to be hopeful. The Daily Vox previously reported on seven alarming facts about unemployment statistics in South Africa, which showed that employment had decreased as of recent which means that unemployment has gone up. To top it off, many unemployed youths are actually recent graduates.
“We must acknowledge that momentum has slowed down in out trajectory owing largely to the tough economic conditions, especially in the aftermath of the downgrade of our country in 2017,” the premier admitted when commenting on Youth Unemployment, after stating previous success.
“In Gauteng province, there are close to two million young people who are neither in employment, in education nor in training,” Makhura said, showing that not only is the youth unemployed but they are also not in school.
The Tshepo One Million programme is the solution that the premier says is what is putting Gauteng in the lead of solving the youth unemployment issue, being an extended reboot of the Tshepo 500 000 flagship programme that benefited nearly 460,000 young people. The programme aims to target one million young people with skills training, job placement and entrepreneurship development.
Improving infrastructure for the fourth industrial revolution seems to be the main objective for premier, in relation to basic education: “Skills development initiatives and educational outcomes must meet the needs of our changing economy and changing society and must be aligned to the key sectors of the economy of the future.” Makhura said.
“We welcome the introduction of the free higher education for students from working class and poor family backgrounds,” the premier said, his only words on Fees Must Fall and higher education. However, a matter of concern fallists have now, which former fallist now MP, Naledi Chirwa, asked at the SONA Debate, is the issue of accommodation. An issue, Makhura, did not touch on.
What Does This Mean
Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng caucus leader Solly Msimanga, responded to the address saying that: “the ANC has not been living in the same province as the millions of residents who have received substandard services under his watch over the past five years”.
Msimanga believes that the address fails to give any concrete plans but merely gives many wishes, flagging the fact that “MECs still have 100 days to formulate their plans for their respective departments”, showing that the premier did not really have much progress to report on.
Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said that Msimanga’s response was rather harsh, saying that the first half of the speech did have substantial examples of what Gauteng has done in the last five years and what the province intends to do in the future.
“The first half of his [David Makhura’s] speech was very plan orientated and very rich with initiatives and examples thereof,” Maluleke said.
With these examples and initiatives, whether the youth can hold their breath for these 100 days in hope for jobs and implementation of these initiatives, Professor said “I don’t know but I hope he realises that the people of Gauteng are probably the toughest electorate the ANC [African National Congress] has ever faced”.
In this year’s elections in May, the ANC only managed to get 53.20% of the votes in the National elections and only 50.19% in the provincial elections, showing the ANC waning popularity in the Gauteng.
“I hope that he does what he promises he will do otherwise they [the ANC] will be punished by the people of Gauteng” Prof. Maluleke continued.
The Daily Vox spoke to student activist, Lindokuhle Xulu, to find out whether or not actual youth and students can be happy with the premier said.
While understanding that the provincial government does not have direct power in higher education, Lindokuhle said “they have not exploited the area of student accommodation where they are sleeping on a lot of buildings and resources where they can be of assistance, even with bursaries” commenting on the premiers silence on the issue in his speech.
“If you are going for a second term, you must be able to say this what I have done and this is how far I will go,” Lindokuhle said in regard to youth employment, particularly in the township economy, saying that the premier only mentioned initiatives and “PR stunts” but has not said anything that can give the youth much confidence.
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