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Top 4 youth issues President Zuma could address at #SONA2017

by: Neo Maditla - 8 February 2017

President Zuma

Got plans this Thursday night? Cancel them. There’s only one event that needs your eyes, ears and tweets from 7pm – #SONA2017. It might not sound like a fun night in but President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation (SONA) address will touch on critical issues that affect young people in this country. So listen up and out for these four topics:

1. How will the government grow the economy?

Think economic growth is just a graph in an economics class? Think again. It affects your daily life – high unemployment, low foreign investment and rising food prices are all a direct result of slow economic growth. At last year’s SONA, the president told us our economy wasn’t growing fast enough, which he blamed on the 2008 financial crisis. He went on to outline three initiatives to turn the situation around:

1) National Development Plan (NDP)

2) One Stop Shop/Invest SA initiative

3) Inter-Ministerial Committee on Investment Promotion

How are these three initiatives doing in 2017? That’s the burning question. Listen out for the president’s progress report on these and any other plans he has to stimulate economic growth.

2. Aligning economic growth with NDP unemployment targets

The NDP has been tasked with reducing unemployment to 14% by 2020 (and 6% in 2030). In 2017, unemployment sits at around 25%, with unemployment among the youth being very high. How can this still be? The NDP’s plan is based on the economy growing 5-6% every year, when the current economic growth is less than 1%, year-on- year. So there’s a big gap between target and reality. The president needs to explain how we're going to reach 6% growth so we can get back on track and meet the NDP targets. Last year he managed to talk around the unemployment issue, but this year we’re hoping he’ll give us some direct answers and detailed plans.

3. How close are we to getting National Health Insurance (NHI)?

In December 2015, Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, outlined the country’s plan to create a universal health coverage under the National Health Insurance (NHI). Two years and many pilot projects later and we still haven’t heard how the government will fund this plan or when it will become a reality. Will Thursday be the night we hear how the NHI is progressing, or stalling?

4. Funding for higher education

We don’t need another #FeesMustFall to know that higher education is still inaccessible for too many young people in SA. The October 2015 march on the Union Buildings resulted in a 0% fee increase for 2016. But in October 2016, universities like WITS and Stellenbosch announced 8% fee hikes while others like Fort Hare said their fees would not increase in 2017. Will the president address higher education funding or talk around the burning issue? Be sure to school yourself on Thursday night by listening out for this hot topic.

Tell us on social media

What key issues would you like President Zuma to address during #SONA2017?

Project Demo finds the voices of young people in South Africa, amplifies their stories and turns their cause for change into a reality. Tell them your issue. They’ll take it on and campaign with you.