Youth unemployment is a result of apartheid legacy, says Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
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Johannesburg - Growing youth employment in South Africa takes centre stage as the country marks 45 years since the June 16, 1976 student uprising and the government launches its Youth Month programme.
The June 16, 1976 uprising, which began in Soweto and spread countrywide, profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa.
The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and its agency, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, launched Youth Month 2021 on Tuesday in Pretoria.
The theme of this year’s Youth Month is, The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society.
Speaking at the virtual launch, June 16 Foundation activist Oupa Moloto said that the apartheid regime dehumanised black South Africans, and urged all South Africans not to dehumanise each other.
“If there are challenges let us not resort to violence because we are helping the apartheid system to achieve their own means to an end. The system’s main aim was to dehumanise us,” Moloto said.
SA Youth Council president Thembinkosi Josopu said that the challenges faced by the youth of 1976 were different from the challenges faced by the youth of today.
“At that time we had an enemy that used guns to ambush us and we had to use stones and petrol bombs to fight them. Today’s challenges are different, they don’t need petrol bombs or stones. They need knowledge,” Josopu said.
He said that this meant that young people in South Africa needed to invest in knowledge-production and find solutions for the problems faced in South Africa.
Reflecting on the theme of this year’s Youth Month, NYDA chief executive Waseem Carrim said that youth employment was not the only issue affecting young people in South Africa, but it was a primary issue affecting young people.
“The absence of employment often leads to devastating socio-economic effects which include the dependence on other people, substance and drug abuse and violence in many communities,” he said.
Carrim said that meaningfully tackling youth unemployment required real political will and effort from all sectors of society, including the government.
Carrim added that the official government Youth Day celebration would take place in Pietermaritzburg at the Harry Gwala Stadium where President Cyril Ramaphosa would reflect on the progress made by the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative.
Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that youth unemployment was a result of the legacy of the apartheid regime.
“South Africa is facing the Covid19 pandemic like every other country in the world but we are also facing the historic challenge of poverty and unemployment,” the minister stated.
She added that gender-based violence and femicide was also a pandemic that South Africans were facing.