Is there a long-term plan to eradicate youth unemployment?
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This year marks the 48th anniversary of the June 16, 1976, student uprising in Soweto, when young people took to the streets protesting against the Bantu Education Act, which enforced Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools.

In 1994, South Africa entered a new democratic era, which brought hope for those who died for a better South Africa. Former president Nelson Mandela in his first speech as the democratically elected president said “The government is determined forcefully to confront the scourge of unemployment, not by way of handouts but by the creation of work opportunities.”

In 2022, during Ramaphosa’s sixth SONA at Cape Town City Hall, he said, “We all know that government does not create jobs. Business creates jobs. In the 2024 manifesto, the ANC said they would create jobs. Flip-flopping on the issue of addressing unemployment has far-reaching consequences, which means there’s no long-term plan to address youth unemployment. 

Statistics South Africa reports a staggering 45.5% unemployment rate among young people aged 15–34 years, compared to the national average of 32.9%. Half of young people are struggling to find work.

Speaking to the Guardian Report, Kristal Duncan William from Youth Capital says, “To reduce the youth unemployment rate, we need to have a cohesive plan that brings together all of society. We have a department of labour with its specific targets; then you have the presidency with its targets; and then you have the department of higher education with its specific targets. As a government, you need a holistic plan and tie the interventions together as opposed to everyone coming up with their own targets.”

She further adds that we need a combined approach from civil society, academics, and the private sector.

Azapo National spokesperson Jabu Rakwena says, “Ever since democracy, we’ve been depoliticizing the youth, and that has been deliberate. When you have nonpolitical youth, it is easy to manipulate them. When you’ve got a youth that is aloof to the plight of the poor, what you do is subject the poor to being dependent on the state.”

Mr. Rakwena further states that it is wrong for the country to have over 20 million people who are dependent on grants, and if you add them to another seven million who are receiving the R350 grants, you are giving false hope to the people. 

The legacy of apartheid still lingers, 30 years after the dawn of democracy.

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