Keynote address by the Honourable Acting Premier S. Manzini on the occasion of the 47th Commemmoration of June 16 , 1976 “Accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future”

16 June 2023

Members of the Executive Council;
Members of the National and Provincial Legislatures present;
The Executive Mayor of Gert Sibande District Municipality, Cllr Walter Mngomezulu;
Our host, the Executive Mayor of Msukaligwa Local Municipality, Cllr B Nkosi;
The Chairperson of the African National Congress in Mpumalanga, Cde Mandla Ndlovu;
The Leadership of the ANC- led Alliance in our province with us today;
Senior government officials led by the Director-General of our province, Mr Makhukhu Mampuru;
Abaholi bentsha yenhlangano ebusayo and other representatives of youth formations in our midst;
Leadership of broader civil society;
The community of Ermelo,

Programme Director
  1. Programme director, I wish to thank the organizers for inviting us to join you all on this 47th commemoration of the valiance displayed very of the youth of June 1976.

  2. We are indeed honoured to be part of this occasion that celebrates the heroic student and youth driven revolt against the crime against humanity that was apartheid.

  3. The June 1976 uprisings set the system of Bantu education on a path towards destruction. Young people stood up and were firm despite the brute force of a racist regime hellbent on preserving that abominable status quo.

  4. Today we commemorate and celebrate the bravery of the thousands of young people without whom this freedom and non-racial democracy that we enjoy today would be nothing but a pipe dream.

  5. I am glad to observe that the spirit of June 16th 1976 still lives among many of our youth today.

  6. It is clearly manifested in young people’s active participation in youth, student and community activities that contribute towards our arsenal in the immense battle against the immense challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

  7. As his Excellency President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa reminded us when he commemorated this day in 2023;

  8. “The struggles of young people in South Africa today are many. Young people have remained at the forefront of activism, whether in pursuit of free education or against social ills like gender-based violence.”


  9. It is perhaps fitting that today we commemorate June 16th 1976 under the theme “accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future”.

  10. This theme recognizes that whilst the long night of Apartheid may be over, as we enjoy 29 years of a democratic constitutional dispensation, young people continue to face many challenges, particularly youth unemployment and the limited participation of young people in our mainstream economy.

  11. Sadly, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic on our shores in 2020, has worsened matters.

  12. The respected Geneva-based International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that young people account for roughly 47% of the world’s unemployed. They are also 4x more likely to be unemployed than adults.

  13. In our province, the strict unemployment rate of youth of working age (between 15-34 years) was at 54.6% in quarter 1 of 2022.

  14. This figure is too high. It says that at least 1 in 2 youth in the labour force is without a job.

  15. We worry also about the percentage of young persons aged 15–34 years who were not in employment, education or training ‘(also called the NEET’) who increased by 2,7 percentage points from 43,6% to 46,3% (out of 20,7 million) in Q1: 2022.

  16. With the onset of COVID-19, the situation of young people in the labour market has deteriorated because their access to education, training and work-based learning was disrupted.

  17. Young people were in most cases the first to be fired or retrenched as businesses faced difficulties during the lockdown.

  18. As their working conditions and access to the labour market became difficult we were sad to learn of many young people whose mental health and well-being was negatively affected.


  20. Programme Director, allow me to re-assure our young people and all present here today that ours is a caring, responsive provincial government

  21. As a province we have not remained unmoved by these developments but have rolled up our sleeves with the aim of implementing economic and youth-centred policies and programmes.

  22. Indeed, our provincial government has continued to support youth development through a number of initiatives such as bursaries, youth incubation programmes, youth development centres, artisan development training, and youth empowerment programmes.

  23. However, these interventions are currently developed and implemented by a range of departments and stakeholders across sectors.

  24. We are seized with ensuring that they achieve a better impact on our youth across the length and breadth of our province.

  25. Having internalized the rallying call of the youth - that there can be nothing about them without them, we are at an advanced stage to issue a public call for applications and/or nominations of young people for possible appointment into a Premier’s Youth Advisory Council. An invitation in this regard will be circulated widely in the form of an advertisement for suitably qualified young men and women to be appointed to advise me on matters that affect them.

  26. One of the interventions is our partnership with the Provincial Youth Development Coordinating Forum (PYDCF). We remain guided by this structure through its efforts of monitoring the implementation of youth development programmes.

  27. Allow me to remind our people that this PYDCF is a multi-sector platform made up of the private sector, public sector and civil society stakeholders whose mandate is to deal with the overall youth development agenda in the province.

  28. Programme Director, evidence from the experience of many countries and regions suggests that a faster growing competitive economy is the main solution for reducing unemployment, including youth unemployment.

  29. As a province, much of our focus has been on crafting a Mpumalanga Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (MERRP).

  30. I am pleased to announce that our province shall soon be reporting on progress with the implementation of the MERRP together with its social partners at a provincial Summit. Details will be available soon and we will ensure that all stakeholders are represented, including the Youth.

  31. As part of the MERRP is a commitment to the Employment Stimulus which will see the province provide many hundreds of working opportunities for young people through programmes such as the National Youth Service, Contractor Development programme, the paving of township and municipal roads, and the Social Enterprise Development Programme (SEDP).

  32. Through the Employment Stimulus pillar of the MERRP we will further intensify public employment programmes, such as the EPWP, to create a large number of jobs in the shorter term and support increased procurement spend for women and youth.

  33. These are programmes that are already being rolled out and are budgeted for .

  34. For example, by the beginning of 2023, the Siyatentela Roads Maintenance Programme had achieved 4 536 work opportunities for poor local households

  35. At the Summit and through other communication platforms the provincial government will provide audited figures on its achievements with the MERRP to highlight progress and challenges it faces in addressing the challenge of youth unemployment.

  36. The Mpumalanga Provincial Government is firmly committed to ensuring that young people are assisted to participate meaningfully in the provincial economy

  37. Whilst aware of the challenging global economic outlook brought about by the pandemic, geo-political tensions and conflict in Europe, rising inflation and worsening socio-economic realities, we have not folded our arms

  38. The provincial government will continue to support young people to access opportunities and benefit from our enterprise development efforts

  39. Our flagship intervention in this regard is the Premier’s Youth Development Fund (PYDF).

  40. Since its inception, the Premier’s Youth Development Fund has empowered 97 youth-owned businesses across the province, to the tune of R140 million. These enterprises are drawn from a wide spectrum of sectors, such as mining, manufacturing, retail, ICT, transport and logistics, health and fitness, and restaurants, to mention but a few.

  41. The disbursement of funding has created numerous employment opportunities and afforded young people ample opportunities to become part of the mainstream economy.

  42. During the course of the current financial year, we have set aside a total budget of R114 million, which is inclusive of a roll-over of R16 million. 30% of this budget is earmarked for enterprises owned by young people with disabilities.

  43. We continue to provide the necessary post-funding operational support, to ensure that these enterprises are sustainable.

  44. Programme Director, it is truly heartening to see how the beneficiaries of the Premier’s Youth Development Fund are making an impact in their communities, through this financial injection.

  45. Take for example the 1246 Gym, which is owned by two young siblings in Mkhuhlu, Bushbuckridge Municipality. The gym is fitted with state-of-the-art training facilities. Not only has the gymnasium created sustainable job opportunities, with a prospect of growing, but has contributed significantly towards the adoption of a healthy lifestyle by the community of Mkhuhlu.

  46. I wish to reassure the youth of our province that we have heard their cries and empathize with their plight.

  47. In all the provincial economic strategies and interventions proposed or implemented we ask ourselves on their implications for women and youth

  48. This is because we have long realised that no country can prosper without taking care of its youth and ensuring that they have the capabilities to access opportunities.

  49. As we pay homage to the youth of June 16 1976 let us pay tribute to their selflessness and courage.

  50. In celebrating the spirit of the youth of 1976 the Mpumalanga provincial government pledges to invest in its youth and adopt strategies to harness their energies.

  51. In embracing the spirit of the youth of 1976 young people today can act as drivers of transformation, and join us in our quest to deliver a better life for all.

  52. I thank you.
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