Government prioritises youth development

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

By More Matshediso

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said government has shown its commitment to youth development and empowerment by placing the function within the Presidency.

“According to Census 2011, a third of South Africans are under the age of 35. This means a huge part of the population requires all of us to provide them with hope for a brighter future and direction,” said the President, tabling the Presidency Budget Vote in the National Assembly in Cape Town.

Apart from placing the function in the highest office in the land, President Zuma also established the Presidential Youth Working Group and will interact with young people from business, sports, arts and culture, professional associations, agriculture and many other sectors.

“This will promote youth participation in governance,” he said, adding that other working groups that will become operational this year are the Presidential Working Group on Disability, the Presidential Small Business Working Group and the Presidential Communication Working Group.

He said the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) also provides young people with support in education, skills development as well as economic empowerment.

Curbing alcohol and substance abuse

President Zuma said many families in the country feel helpless in the face of the scourge of drugs and alcohol abuse by youth, and report all sorts of distressing actions by their children.

He said drug addicts steal from home to fund their habits, while others become violent and attack family members.

“Dagga and alcohol are said to be the most abused substances. Some young people have also become slaves to Nyaope, Whoonga, cocaine, tik, heroin and others. Drug and alcohol abuse contribute to the escalation of chronic diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis,” said President Zuma.

He said young people who are dependent on drugs are also exposed to violent crimes as perpetrators or victims.

“Government will deal mercilessly with drug dealers. They are dangerous. They want to destroy the future of our country. We urge communities to assist by reporting the druglords to the authorities,” said the President.

Operation Fiela

He said one of the aims of the anti-crime campaign, Operation Fiela, is to clean up the country and get rid of the drug dens and the human trafficking rings in South Africa.

“Already, we have seen many syndicates being smashed during the Operation Fiela raids. Let us empower our youth to say no to drugs and to seek treatment.”

Families have raised concerns about the inadequate numbers of treatment centres and the Department of Social Development has identified five provinces for the establishment of public treatment centres. 

These are Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo, Free State and the Eastern Cape. Eventually, all provinces will have at least one public treatment centre.

Government has developed a comprehensive response to the scourge, using lessons gained from the President's visit to Eldorado Park in Johannesburg where drugs were a major headache for the community.

“A task team was established to work with the community after the visit and an integrated plan of action was developed. The plan focuses on prevention, early intervention, treatment and after care,” he said.

The President said eight provinces - Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State - were roped in to participate in the implementation of the plan to prepare for a roll out to all.

“I have been approached by other communities as well who are under siege and are crying for help. We need to work together as we respond to this crisis nationwide as leaders of our people,” he said. –