Intervene now for the future, says Zuma

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nelspruit- President Jacob Zuma says it is important that the government ensures the youth reaps the benefits of democracy as well as all other constitutional rights they have as citizens of South Africa.

He was speaking to a crowd of about 20 000 people during Youth Day celebrations in the Thulamahashe Stadium in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, to mark the 34th anniversary of the 1976 youth uprising in Soweto.

It is also the United Nations' Year of the Youth and, in South Africa, Youth Month.

Zuma said the way the youth's challenges were addressed now would have a great bearing on them as the future of the country.

"We have to continue to work hard to create opportunities where they can realise their dreams and aspirations. The World Development Report of 2007 challenges us to develop and broaden opportunities for the youth, as well as to develop their skills to optimise such opportunities.

"It also expects of us to create an enabling environment for their self-affirmation and expression, so that they develop all aspects - physical, intellectual as well as personal and social - to participate meaningfully in the society as fully developed citizens," he said.

Zuma said that, in South Africa, the National Youth Development Agency had already made great strides in the year since it had been launched.

"Most notably, the NYDA has adopted eight key performance areas in order to map and monitor the development of the youth over time. These include economic participation; education and skills development; effective and efficient resource management; information services and communications ... and the national youth service."

He highlighted that the agency had helped the youth to access 7 000 loans worth R23-million for microfinance enterprises, while R3-million had been given to small and medium enterprises.

"Significant strides have also been made in advancing education and skills development. About 40 000 beneficiaries were enrolled in skills development and community service for the current financial year, and the National Youth Service programme has enrolled 16 000 young people in several projects."

According to Zuma, these projects included young volunteers who built 76 houses, symbolising the year 1976, for indigent families in Ivory Park, Gauteng.

"They are also planning to build 34 houses, symbolising 34 years since 1976, in Mpumalanga and refurbish selected schools in all nine provinces during Youth Month," he added.

Fittingly, Zuma also used the opportunity to wish Bafana Bafana well in their crucial game against Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria tonight and urged the crowd to support them "resoundingly".

"Thank you for the support that you have been giving to the World Cup tournament, and please continue to cheer up our national team. Tonight they take on Uruguay. You are the 12th man on the pitch as South Africans. Our resounding support keeps the team going and makes them succeed," he said to loud cheers from the crowd.