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SA: Paul Mashatile: Address by Deputy President, at the launch of the South African National Service Institute, CSIR International Conference Centre, Pretoria (21/05/2024)


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SA: Paul Mashatile: Address by Deputy President, at the launch of the South African National Service Institute, CSIR International Conference Centre, Pretoria (21/05/2024)

Deputy President Paul Mashatile
Deputy President Paul Mashatile

22nd May 2024


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Programme Director;
Honourable Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma;
Honourable Minister of Defence, Ms Thandi Modise;
Honourable Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande in absentia;
Senior Government Officials;
Our partners from the various Government Departments, the private sector, the CSIR, Chief of the South African National Defence Force; The Defense Industry and all representatives of the SA National Defense Force;
Learners from various schools present today;
National Youth Service (NYS) participants present today;
Members of the media;
Esteemed guests, Colleagues, and Compatriots

Good Morning, Sanibonani, Avuxeni!

It is indeed a great honour that I stand before you today as we launch the South African National Service Institute (SANSI). As Deputy President, I am proud to witness the establishment of an institution that seeks to implement one of the key interventions - the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)-led National Youth Service (NYS), which will be a bastion of unity, service, and progress in our nation.


Maybe I should also confess that I felt compelled to be part of this launch because it speaks directly to my delegated responsibility of leading the Human Resources Development Council of South Africa (HRDC), which is tasked with fostering collaboration between Government and social partners towards addressing the shortage of skills in the critical sectors of the economy.

Minister Nzimande, who helps run the HRDC, will attest that we have been interacting with diverse stakeholders in order to develop social compacts that will help create a capable and progressive state. 


As Government, we need more business and Government initiatives that provide young men and women with opportunities to learn and give them a national service identity that embodies discipline, patriotism, and the highest level of professionalism. 

We aim to ensure that young individuals are equipped with the necessary skills and qualifications to secure employment upon completing their education. Additionally, we want to foster an entrepreneurial mindset among young people, enabling them to contribute to the reduction of unemployment in our nation.

To this end, the 6th Administration identified high youth unemployment as its top priority. We have implemented numerous mass-scale employment programmes, many of which are significantly addressing the youth unemployment crisis and transforming the lives of our young people, their families, and communities.

We have introduced initiatives such as the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which is founded on the belief that inclusive economic growth cannot happen without social justice. As it stands, the initiative has created over 1.7 million jobs, opportunities, and more.

Despite these interventions, many of our youths remain on the margins of real economic participation. According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for instance, the official unemployment rate stands at 32,9 %, which was an increase of 0,8 of a percentage point in Q1 of 2024 compared to Q4 of 2023.

According to the survey, youth aged 15–24 years and 25–34 years continue to have the highest unemployment rates at 59.7% and 40.7%, respectively. Approximately 3,6 million (35,5%) out of 10,3 million young people aged 15–24 were not in employment, education, or training (NEET).

This implies that we must double our efforts and collaborate to address this socio-economic imbalance, which disproportionately affects young men and women who wish to contribute to the growth of our society. Our efforts should focus on disrupting the structural after-lives of an economy that has consistently subjugated the marginalized for decades.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

There is also no better way to confront the unemployment problem than to face it head-on. However, we must solely focus on skilling the youth in sectors with high absorption capacity, connecting them to much-needed jobs, eliminating the inequality gap, and lifting them out of poverty to achieve economic liberation.

In this regard, I am pleased that the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities, in collaboration with the Department of Defence, adopted a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to the skills revolution for the unskilled.

This will have a significant impact on restoring livelihoods, creating wealth, and alleviating poverty and hunger among the marginalised. Therefore, we prioritise the SANDF-led NYS as a special project, piloting and implementing it in the country's poorest districts, where the greatest need is present.

The SANDF-led National Youth Service aims to optimize government resources by spearheading impactful projects that assist the nation's most vulnerable citizens. This initiative provides the basis and motivation for what will be a game-changing intervention by the South African Government in advancing the well-being of the country’s marginalised population.

In a broad sense, we envisaged inviting and encouraging young people to voluntarily join the National Youth Service, beginning with a character-building programme and progressing to industry-demand-based education and training, ultimately leading to gainful employment or entrepreneurship.

The younger generation in this country is a valuable asset, and I contend that it is our duty as a society to help them realise their latent capabilities. They are also resilient; many of them have faced adversity in their lives, yet they persevere. They also have brilliant minds; to participate in the economy and sometimes all they need is recognition.

Consequently, this initiative is a step towards reinforcing our country's ongoing war on youth unemployment by massifying value-chain-driven and sector-specific skills development, enterprise development, production brigades, and infant industries to power South Africa's re-industrialisation targets.

Therefore, the SANDF-led NYS, as a nationally coordinated war on youth unemployment, represents a massive investment in the effort to get young people trained and capacitated to participate in the economy. It is also a significant milestone in our journey towards a stronger, more resilient society. It stands as a testament to our commitment to foster a culture of service and civic responsibility among our youth and citizens in general through robust implementation of the SANDF-led NYS.

Furthermore, it will serve as a hub for nurturing leadership, fostering skill development, and promoting community engagement. It will empower our young people to contribute meaningfully to the development of our country and the well-being of our communities.

As we launch SANSI today, the institution that will be responsible for implementing the National YouthService let us reaffirm our dedication to building a nation where service to others is not just a duty but a way of life. Let us embrace the values of compassion, solidarity, and inclusivity that define the essence of national service.


I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has worked tirelessly to bring SANSI to this point, both inside and outside Government.

Your unwavering commitment and forward-thinking have laid the groundwork for a more promising future that will benefit future generations.

We certainly hope that more organisations and private institutions will follow suit to benefit our youth, who are the future of our country.

Youth with skills are a greater resource for the country in terms of economic growth, fighting inequality, and poverty alleviation. They play an important role in shaping South Africa into the kind of society that we want it to be.

Let us, therefore, avoid being a stumbling block and instead serve as a stepping stone to a more promising future that offers unbounded opportunities to all individuals.

In conclusion, I would also like to urge all South Africans to support the SANDF-led National Youth Service and embrace the opportunities that the National Service Institute will offer. Provincial launches will take place throughout all nine provinces, with the project aiming to reach at least 100,000 youth participants in the current fiscal year. 

I urge all young individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for the NYS to submit their applications promptly and in large quantities. The youth must also take advantage of the opportunity presented by the programme to equip themselves with the much-needed skills.

Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to thank all our compatriots living abroad who flocked to voting stations to cast their ballots over the weekend. I encourage all South Africans to go out in their numbers and vote on 29 May 2024.

Remember, placing your crosses on the ballot papers will fulfill a task that history has put on your shoulders. Most importantly, you will be deciding for yourselves the direction of our country and the path that we should take to get there.

It is my greatest privilege and honour to officially launch the South African National Service Institute.

I thank you.


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