Young people challenged to take responsibility for their future

Friday, June 2, 2023

As the country marks Youth Month, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has challenged young people to take responsibility for their future.

Dlamini Zuma made the call at the launch of Youth Month campaign held in Soweto on Thursday.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), under the stewardship of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, hosted the event, in partnership with the Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture (DSAC).

The 2023 Youth Month is celebrated under the theme “Accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future”.

While acknowledging that the situation in the country is not perfect, Dlamini Zuma argued that young people have access to education, and no young person can say they are denied education because of their race and gender.

“I hear young people saying a lot about what they expect, but I don’t hear them saying what their responsibility is. They don’t even say we want access to education [and] our responsibility is to pass. …they don’t even mention that as their responsibility, but it is their responsibility.”

The Minister also encouraged young people to be more organised so that they can push the frontiers much faster.

“The right to vote was fought for very hard and I don’t know who is stopping young people from voting. Voting is very important because it determines who runs the country, what policies are implemented [and] it determines part of your future.

“Not going to vote is actually a dereliction of duty for young people. Young people must mobilise and get young persons to register. Now you all have smart phones, you can assist [other] young people to go register online and assist those who don’t have smart phones to register.”

The Minister also formed part of a panel discussion on “Our journey and Our Generational Mission”, called for the country to process its raw materials, as opposed to exporting it.

“If you export raw material, you are not only exporting that material, [but also] exporting jobs that are going to beneficiate and process it.

“You are exporting revenue, because by the time that exported raw material comes back as a finished good, it is very expensive and ten times or even more than what you even sold it for.”

Support for small business

Meanwhile, NYDA Board member Thulisa Ndlela challenged the State to look at how it procures and looks for services.

 “How the State procures must be deliberate in so far as it’s biased towards young people. Your average small [and] medium enterprise (SME) employs more people than a multi-national because the [multi-national] has access to machinery. So, if your procurement and sourcing strategy is biased towards SMEs, it then allows you to give that aspect,” Ndlela said.

NYDA Board Executive Chairperson, Asanda Luwaca, warned that political freedom will mean nothing in the absence of economic freedom.

She said the NYDA co-exists to ensure that the youth is capacitated with the necessary economic opportunities so that the struggles and sacrifices of yesterday’s youth are not in vain.

While it is often said that the youth is resilient, energetic and got a lot to offer, Luwaca said resilience will mean nothing, unless “we are able to create necessary conducive environment for that resilience to be able to be translated into tangible solutions that will ultimately change the material conditions for the better.”  

Echoing Dlamini Zuma’s sentiments, Luwaca emphasised that young people need to take it upon themselves to be the agencies of change, by grabbing the opportunities that exist.

“We need to encourage young people to participate in the democratic processes. We have an NYDA Amendment Bill that is currently out for public comments [and] how many of us are participating in that?

“We must equally, as young people take that responsibility to ensure that legislation reflects what is that we want. We want many young people who are representatives of government because of the activism that we carried, we also want to encourage the youth to participate in those processes,” said Luwaca. –