Zweli Mkhize pictured. File photo: Siyabonga Mosunkutu.


DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has called on KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize to implement the youth wage subsidy.

“I am here to offer a challenge to Mkhize,” she said during a march in Pietermaritzburg on Monday..

“I want him to ask Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for his share to implement the youth wage subsidy,” Mazibuko said.

Hundreds of DA youth supporters marched peacefully for the youth wage subsidy, without the clashes that marked a similar march in Joburg last month.

“As a young person I know there are many young people without jobs and opportunities to work. The youth subsidy needs to be supported,” Mazibuko said.

She said the youth subsidy would address unemployment.

DA supporters were dressed in blue T-shirts and carried flags and placards reading: “youth wage subsidy now” and “we demand jobs today”.

Mkhize sent provincial planning committee head Cyril Xaba to receive the DA memorandum on his behalf.

Last month, the DA marched to Cosatu’s headquarters, in Joburg about job losses and Cosatu's opposition to the youth wage subsidy.

The march turned violent when it was met by toyi-toying Cosatu members who allegedly stoned the DA supporters.

Cosatu believes a subsidy suggests that high wages and restrictive labour laws are behind youth unemployment, when improving basic education, skills development, the “green economy”, and local procurement will help more.

It believes the subsidy will encourage companies to hire cheap young labour just for the subsidy and retrench older workers.

President Jacob Zuma announced the R5 billion subsidy in Parliament in February 2010.

On Monday, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said moves were underway to accelerate discussions at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, particularly in June, which has been called youth month.

Until now talks have consistently deadlocked amid opposition from Cosatu.

“We have elevated the discussions to senior level with the constituents concerned to ensure that the discussions are concluded expeditiously,” Patel said in response to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Kenneth Mubu.

“Based on progress, a report will be submitted to Cabinet to finalise the matter,” he said. – Sapa