The crisis facing the youth is caused by a crisis of bad leadership

Author Tracey Reign has criticised the leaders of this country including the government for not doing enough to empower the youth. Picture: Supplied.

Author Tracey Reign has criticised the leaders of this country including the government for not doing enough to empower the youth. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jun 30, 2024


The author of the book South African dream, Tracey Reign, has criticised the leaders of this country - including the government, for not doing enough to empower the youth - arguing that not much was said in Youth Month in support of young people.

June 2023 marked the 47th anniversary of the June 16 Soweto uprisings which ended tragically with hundreds of young people brutally killed.

Following the dawn of a democracy in 1994, the June became known as the Youth Month.

The government said earlier this year that Youth Month would be celebrated under the theme: “Accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future”, however, Reign said not enough was being done to emancipate the youth in the country.

She stated that ordinarily, the youth would be prioritised, but in recent years, the month appeared to have carried no meaning.

“A majority of the youth in our country sit at home unemployed, with dreams that have dried up like the fig tree that Jesus cursed. Their ambitions have been reduced to nothing but an R350 grant and an RDP house – the truth then set before our very eyes in the realisation that ‘Tintswalo’ has always been a fictional character.

“Stories of empowerment are always whispered in the corridors because they are never true, but their plight has not been heard even during a month that is supposed to highlight their needs and push for implementation of solutions,” she said.

Tracey Reign. Picture: Supplied

Reign did not mince her words in criticising the government for its failure to create job opportunities, saying the Department for Youth Empowerment was not displaying any form of meaningful representation of the youth.

She added that talks about the Government of National Unity had been prioritised over young people.

“They are going ahead on how they will share and control the resources of the state, and not one leader has spoken of youth empowerment, instead, they are caught up fighting over positions. It would seem that the intention is truly not to cater to the needs of the youth but to continue with selfish ambitions to slice and dice our country while embracing the politics of division.

“When the power to achieve a desired outcome is not present simply because those who carry that power are lacking in political will due to selfish ambitions. There is a need for policies that must practically lead to the implementation of programmes that are effective for youth empowerment, Institutions must stop operating in pretence and get to work – there is no point in having platforms that do not change people’s lives materially while claiming to do so.”

She also stressed that advancing for the interest of the youth be prioritised and inclusivity be encouraged through various platforms including “free education”.

“The youth must be granted opportunities, we cannot have our strongest citizens sitting as spectators while our leaders fatten their bellies through seeds of corruption instead of allocating resources and catering for the needs of the youth.

“Government needs to craft policies that will allow the youth to benefit from every resource that this country carries. We do not have a crisis of scarcity of resources, but the crisis facing the youth is the crisis of bad leadership which does not hold them as a priority at all,” said Reign.

She encouraged that business and government work together to find long-term solutions that must be implemented to combat the over-exploitation of the youth where employment opportunities emerge.

The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities said on its website earlier this month that South Africa was still a developing country with a population of 62 million where a majority of its population is young and below the age of 34, with the youth population of almost a third of the country’s population - 9.04 million males and 8.80 million females.

“A majority of young people in South Africa are confronted with the government’s triple challenges (poverty, unemployment, and inequality, as well as corruption), with unemployment being a weighty burden facing the country’s youth, with adolescent girls and young women facing far more challenges,” said Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The department stated that the enormous participation of young people in the peaceful 2024 national and provincial elections which ushered in the 7th democratic administration - signalled their commitment to protect the country’s hard-earned freedom and the legacy of those who came before them.

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