IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Picture: Melinda Stuurman

The future of South Africa is in crisis and is far from secure, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said at a Youth Day event in KwaMsane on Saturday.

“South Africa grapples with entrenchment problems and many of our people are suffering,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Dondotha sports grounds in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

“But those who suffer by far the most are our youth.”

He said while the unemployment rate in South Africa is 25 percent, unemployment among young people stood at 49 percent.

“While many young people want to work, only half of them can find a job,” he said.

“A university education is expensive and does not hold the promise of work. You are told you need experience to get a job, but you can't get experience unless you work.”

He said government's Youth Wage subsidy had been delayed by the African National Congress's alliance partner.

“Buying property and owning a house is an impossible dream,” said Buthelezi.

“Debt is rising, while the cost of living keeps going up. HIV and Aids are an ever-present concern. Personal safety is uncertain. Stress is high. Alcohol and drugs are a temptation. There is not enough to do, not enough to eat, not enough to inspire hope.”

Buthelezi said his generation grew up in a country where political freedom was denied, movement was restricted, dignity was trampled and education was poor.

“Yet somehow I feel that the battle you are facing today as young people in South Africa is incomparable. After all, you live in a country that is politically free and a world that is moving forward.

“You are continually told that you are a free generation. But you are not truly free to work when there are no jobs to be found, or truly free to go anywhere when you can't afford transport, or truly free to learn when the education system is failing,” he said. - Sapa