Theme: 25 Years of Democracy: A Celebration of Youth Activism
Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa
Deputy Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize
Executive Chairperson of the NYDA, Mr Sifiso Mtsweni
MEC for Sports Arts and Culture, Gauteng Province, Ms Mbali Hlope
Gauteng Provincial Government Representatives present
Our VIP’s, Young Leaders of tomorrow
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed an honour to be here as we celebrate 25 years of our democracy and on the dawn of a new administration.
This is a historic moment that all of us should reflect on with pride as we once more re-affirm our commitment to carry on the baton to advance the liberation of our people from Poverty, unemployment and inequality.
25 years is how old our democracy is however the liberation struggle is on-going from the time 1976 generation embraced the responsibility to lead from the front to bring change in our society.
Ours was a colonisation was of a different kind. Today, we face a challenge of educated youth who are unemployed which then requires us to do things differently to make an impact.
In the Spirit of Thuma Mina-Khawuleza, we will not only talk but act ,walk the talk by fast tracking our pace to improve the lives of our youth.
The youth of our country are the future of this country and therefore nothing without them but with them as we launch Youth Month 2019 looking at this audience of future-leaders and I am confident that the future of this country is in good hands.
As South African Citizens, we have much to remember: 2019 is a year that marks 64 years since the Freedom Charter was adopted by the congress of the people on the month of June in 1955, the 40th commemoration of the hanging of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu 25 years since the dawn of the democratic dispensation in South Africa, as well as 10 years since the establishment of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
South African society is built on the Constitution that embeds democratic values, social justice, fundamental human rights, equality and human dignity.
Our Bill of Rights guarantees access to health care services, sexual and reproductive health and rights, sufficient food and water, and social security and social assistance. South Africa is signatory and ratifies international treaties with special focus on women, youth and persons with disabilities.
The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 2020 is a rallying point to insist on achieving the human rights of all women and girls and will be organized as global mobilization under 12 critical areas women (young women) and media, young women and health including persons with disabilities and gender based violence.
Against such a rich history, we are here today to mark the 43rd commemoration of the 1976 Soweto Uprising when youth revolted against the imposing of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.
Youth Month commemorates the bravery of multitudes of scholars who, on 16 June 1976, paved a new path of defiance that echoed across South Africa and showed the power of inter-generational activism.
There exists an opportunity within the current year and in the new mandate of the Department of Women Youth and People with Disabilities (DWYPD) to bring together the collective obligation of these milestones to better assess how as a nation we have improved the lives of Youth, including youths with disabilities.
It is no coincidence that we host this launch at the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum in Soweto.
At such a young age, Hector Pieterson took a conscious decision to participate in a march that was to become a turning point in the history of South Africa and changed the political landscape of this country internationally.
The museum we are at today is testament to Hector Pieterson’s bravery and his hope for a better South Africa.
The legacy he left behind should serve as a reminder to all future generations of youth that his life was not in vain and yours should not be too.
We should daily endeavour to make a ground breaking difference and be the architect of change in our country.
South Africa remains committed to the realisation of a better world for all.
With the recent formation of the Department, Government is re-affirming its commitment to tackling challenges that youth face on a daily basis.
As the Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, it will be my responsibility to ensure that youth are able to reach their full potential by creating an enabling environment through provision of equal access to opportunities.
The NYDA will be strengthened with resources to do more than advocacy to maximise the participation of youths in the economy.
To this end government has started implementing the decision that experience will not be considered at entry level of employment.
His Excellency, President Ramaphosa has committed government to focus on the status of the youth of South Africa because he recognises the important role the youth play in driving economic growth and development of our country.
Our interventions to ensure a better tomorrow for our youth can be counted across a list of services and programmes:
South Africa considers education a key driver towards youth emancipation. SA Government recently declared that children complete two years of Early Childhood Development and moved ECD from Department of Social Development to the Department of Education, creating an uninterrupted system of tracking children through their formal education.
Our government-backed tertiary education programme – National Student Financial Aid Scheme sponsors young men and women to study at a University or Technikon of their choice, covering tuition, accommodation, and also provides a monthly stipend (R275) for personal healthcare.
While our government also battles in a tough global economy, we remain committed to ensuring free tertiary education for deserving students. Our mission is to ensure that youth succeed through the system.
While there have been significant improvements across a number of economic indicators over the past several decades, especially in girls’ enrolment in school, access to healthcare and the introduction of legislation to deal with violence against women and girls; girls and young women including youth with disabilities still face disproportionate barriers to participate in the economy.
The NYDA runs a rounded entrepreneurship programme aimed at supporting start up youth entrepreneurs on their small business journey.
The NYDA has during the 2018 / 2019 financial year disbursed development finance to over 1 500 start-up youth entrepreneurs creating over 6 000 new jobs.
It has provided business development support to more than 21 000 young people.
These are the stories of ordinary young South Africans doing extraordinary things.
The National Youth Development Agency sees the National Youth Service Program as a pathway for young people towards social cohesion and economic emancipation.
In this regard it has established 17 new district centres in rent free collaboration with local government with its vision of finding presence in at least every district municipality by 2020.
In the 5th Administration the Department developed the Young Women’s Socio-Economic Framework with the vision to strategically and meaningfully increase participation of young women in social and economic transformation.
We will continue to support and strengthen the initiatives under the Youth Employment Services program that was launched by the President.
The NYDA continues to work with social partners such as the Youth Employment Service and Harambee and has raised over R80 million in the market to support its programs. It has hosted the BRICS Youth Summit which has culminated in the proposed establishment of the Youth Secretariat to oversee decisions of the BRICS Youth and to bring the vision of BRICS Youth to life.
We will further strengthen collaborations, partnerships and broaden our Intergovernmental relations and stakeholder engagement in both public and private sector to foster opportunities to advance the youth development agenda.
This will therefore require a strategic focus and a resourced machinery and the department been allocated a proper and adequate budget. We will strengthen our accountability machinery to ensure that government departments allocate adequate Financial and Human resources, implement projects and programs towards women, youth and persons with disabilities.
This year Youth Month 2019 will focus on several activities which will showcase the 25 years of democracy and June 16 will be commemorated and celebrated differently.
These will include build up events in the form of a cultural village which will house many activities such as:
- Youth Arts & Culture Expression which will promote local content, indigenous language
- Youth Business Expo whereby departments, youth business and key stakeholders will be expected to exhibit their product to the youth.
- Themed youth dialogue sessions
- Youth Wellness & Sports and activities will include wellness programme, fitness challenge, netball and soccer tournaments.
- National Youth Service activities
In conclusion, allow me to assure our young people that we have been given yet another opportunity by our people during the elections through their votes to work together for the advancement of a better life for our youth.
The future is in your hands.
I thank you.