Keynote address by the Honourable Premier R.M Mtshweni-Tsipane of Mpumalanga Province on the occasion of the Commemoration of Youth Day

17 June 2021

Honourable Members of the National Legislature;
Honourable Members of the National Council of Provinces;
Honourable Members of the Executive Council;
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature;
Honourable Members of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders led by Inkosi S.G. Ngomane;
The Acting Chairperson of the ruling party the African National Congress in Mpumalanga Cde Mandla Ndlovu ;
Umfelandawonye kamadlelandawonye oholwa nguKhongolose i-ANC, iCosatu, Amakhomanisi, nabaholi Babahlali bendawo iSANCO;
The Acting Director General of the Province Mr Peter Nyoni;
Senior Government officials at national, provincial and local government level;
Abaholi bentsha yenhlangano ebusayo;
Abaholi bezinhlangano zemiphakathi Civil Society Kanye nabamasonto;
Umphakathi wendawo yaseRonaldsey;
Sanibonani, Lotshani, Dumelang

Amandla, Awethu, Matla, Arona, Matimba

  1. Programme director, It is a singular honour to join you all on this 45th commemoration of the bravery of the youth of 1976.

  2. Indeed, we gather here today to pay homage and celebrate the gallant, revolutionary and indomitable spirit of the young lions who displayed the ultimate altruism by sacrificing their lives to preserve the dignity of the marginalised and disenfranchised African child.

  3. As they gathered to take part in the march against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools, they were driven by the desire to see justice, equity and equality.

  4. Little did they know that the march they partook in, would reinvigorate the worldwide condemnation of the crime against humanity that was apartheid.

  5. It was on that unforgettable day 45 years ago that the apartheid regime brutality showed its outright disregard for African people.

  6. Through the murder of hundreds of young people and injuring of thousands more, that fateful day, seminally captured by one of our own, uBaba Sam Nzima, would serve as a painful catalyst towards the eradication of apartheid.

  7. To quote His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, “June 16 1976 proved once again that young people have been at the centre of every decisive historical moment in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid.”

  8. In essence any positive development in the history of our nascent democracy has either directly or indirectly, been driven by young people.

  9. Launching the youth month under the theme “The year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke recently, Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society” Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana Mashabane called upon all of us not to ignore our youth if we are to see our society progress.

  10. Our struggle icon uMama Charlotte Mannya Maxeke whose life, times and contribution to our liberation we are celebrating this year dedicated her life helping young people cope with challenges of that time.

  11. uMama Maxeke refused to be defined by stereotypes and is a testament of the limitless potential we all possess.

  12. As a community leader, uMama Maxeke was always ready to serve as a volunteer for the greater good of our people without any motive of personal gain.

  13. She sacrificed her own interests to fight for the freedom and advancement of others

  14. The best way we can honour her sacrifices is to follow her example.

  15. Programme Director, the current generation of young people is confronted by new challenges that are complex in nature and include poverty, inequality unacceptably high levels of unemployment all in the midst of a complicated pandemic era.

  16. The recent quarterly labour force survey for the first quarter of 2021 released by Statistics South Africa paints a gloomy picture. It reflects an unemployment rate of roughly 63,3% amongst young people between the ages of 15-24 and an unemployment rate of 41,3% amongst young people between the ages of 25-34.

  17. In practical terms, the report reflects that there are approximately 7 242 000 unemployed people in the country with a significant majority of these people being the youth.

  18. Programme Director, as I have indicated earlier, the scourge of unemployment is exacerbated by the advent of the Covid-19 crisis which has deepened the hardship experienced by the youth in our Province

  19. Empirical data and lessons learnt from the 2008 global financial crisis and the recent report of the International Monetary Fund on economic prospects of South Africa indicate that young people are more vulnerable to the decreasing demand for labour.

  20. Whilst temporary initiatives such as the R350 Covid-19 relief grant played some role in shielding our young people from some of the devastating impact of the pandemic, it is not a sustainable long term solution to the challenges faced by our young people.

  21. Mpumalanga driven initiatives

  22. Programme Director, we are alive to the fact that the challenges faced by our young people will require a collaborative and multi-sectoral effort from all material stakeholders before we begin to see the rewards.

  23. We must take cognisance of our shared responsibility, as government, business, labour and civil society, to develop pathways for young people towards sustainable work streams.

  24. It is this responsibility that must direct all our efforts and all our energies.

  25. To this effect, the Mpumalanga Office of the Premier will continue to engage youth organisations such as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the South African Youth Council (SAYC) in order to steer policy development and planning towards the promotion of young people’s involvement in material economic activity across the Province.

  26. Furthermore, we have roped in a number of stakeholders from different spheres of government and the private sector to establish the Provincial Youth Development Coordinating Forum (PYDCF).

  27. The PYDCF is a multi-sector platform made up of the private sector, public sector and civil society stakeholders tasked with dealing with the overall youth development agenda in the province.

  28. The PYCDF has been established to expedite the inclusion of young people across the Province in the mainstream economy. The PYCDF is established in recognition of the fact that there is no-one-size-fits-all solution to addressing the youth problem in Mpumalanga. All stakeholders need to come on board and work together to tackle the youth unemployment in the Province.

  29. The forum will be convened quarterly in order to monitor progress on youth development in the province.

  30. Their work will be informed by the fact that the lasting solution lies in the profound restructuring of the Province’s economy so that it can work for all the people of Mpumalanga.

  31. As we have seen in the last 27 years of our democratic dispensation, the current highly concentrated Mpumalanga economy is less likely to distribute resources or create enough sustainable employment for all job seekers, particularly the historically marginalised young people in the medium to long term.

  32. Informed by the processes unfolding in the national sphere of government, the reform in property ownership coupled with wealth distributive measures will go a long way in addressing youth unemployment across the Province in the long term.

  33. Programme Director, sometimes as leaders we tend to underestimate the potential of young people to be agents of change. It is not uncommon to find leaders denying young people an opportunity to take party in key decision making processes. This denies the youth a chance to deliberate on key issues that affect them directly but also affect the country.

  34. We must engage with young people, in a way that will influence the way they envisage their futures and create an environment that enable them to realise their aspirations. We must empower young people to navigate and negotiate transitions to adulthood, given the often challenging and unpredictable circumstances they find themselves in.

  35. One of the most effective way to do this is to empower them with knowledge and make them take a quantum leap from the mind-set that you leave school and get employed in offices where a pay-check will come every end of the month.

  36. We need to make them realize that starting their own businesses in various industries including those that are looked down upon and regarded as for people who are illiterate and rural could be a long term solution to the current high unemployment that they are facing.

  37. Agriculture is one such economic sector that has proved to be resilient even during difficult times like we are currently experiencing. But because some young people think a degree holder cannot do farming, they end up disgruntled and lose hope of fulfilling their dreams.

  38. We have put in place strategies and policies that that encourages and bring youth into agricultural sector and also create champions for the improvement of other young people.

  39. As part of advancing our support to young people and through the Mpumalanga Youth Development Fund (MYDF), the Provincial Government shall provide a wide range of financial and non-financial support services to Mpumalanga youth owned businesses.

  40. The Fund will, amongst other things, prioritize SMMEs owned by historically marginalised groups of young people including, young women, young persons with disabilities and above all, youth residing in rural areas.

  41. This initiative will increase youth participation in the economy, whilst reducing unemployment across the Province.

  42. An amount of 90 million rand will be invested in this programme in the current financial year. Additional support will be provided to young people without the requisite skills to develop bankable business plans but keen to establish businesses, to be capacitated through targeted mentoring, coaching and training programmes.

  43. We are hoping to see more proposals that embraces new technologies and promotes artificial intelligence.

  44. The fight against Covid-19

  45. Programme Director, the youth of today must invoke the value of selflessness, discipline, hard work and an abiding love for the people that was ever-present in the youth of 1976.

  46. The youth of today are faced with the covid-19 pandemic that has wreaked untold damage and devastation to life as we knew it.

  47. As we navigated the third wave of this global pandemic, I urge the youth of Mpumalanga to be central to government’s initiatives to contain this pandemic.

  48. I call upon the youth of Mpumalanga to exercise maximum caution in light of increasing infection rates. I urge you all to discourage recreational social gatherings.

  49. As we continue to implement the second stage of our vaccination plan, I urge young people to use their smartphones and register the elderly for vaccination through the following platforms;
    • Registering on the website
    • Registering through the 0600 123 456 whatsApp line;
    • By SMS through the *134*832#; and
    • By calling the COVID-19 hotline 0800 029 999;

    The legacy of uMama Charlotte Maxeke

  50. Programme Director, as we celebrate the youth month in a year where we are also celebrating 150th commemoration of the birth of uMama Charlotte Maxeke, who embodies the values and qualities we must all aspire to emulate.

  51. We must embrace collective and inclusive prosperity that put young people at the forefront of economic development.

  52. We must not stand idle during the persecution of others.

  53. We must never rest while millions go to bed without a meal, while others do not have a roof over their heads and others do not have work.

  54. We all have a responsibility to better the quality of life for generations that will follow us.

  55. The spirit of uMama maxeke must never leave us. It must be central to our decision making process. Her values must inform the Mpumalanga we build or else we would have failed her gigantic legacy.

  56. In conclusion allow me to quote one of the founding fathers of our democratic dispensation uTata Oliver Reginald Tambo when he said “The children of any nation are its future, a country, a movement, a person that does not value its youth and children does not deserve its future.”

  57. Ngiyathokoza
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