There were many interesting events in parliament over the past few months. From discussions about military conscription to Stellenbosch University’s appearance in parliament, here are five youth-related highlights from parliament’s third term.
Sending SA’s youth to the army
Earlier this year the presidency revealed they were discussing using military conscription as a way of dealing with youth unemployment. Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela said the aim of this is to encourage the youth to volunteer, be disciplined and to gain as much work experience they can.
This is still a long way off, however, as the Presidency still has to write up a draft plan before it can be tabled to cabinet ministers for a final decision. The programme is meant to start next June.
Youth Roundtable Discussion
In July parliament hosted a youth roundtable discussion to give young parliamentarians an opportunity to debate the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP).This created an opportunity to find out the challenges that young people are facing relating to education, health and education. EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi walked out due to a lack of youth representation, later tweeting: “We have been told we are here for a roundtable discussion but there are no young people, students or their formations.”
Stellenbosch University called to answer to MPs on racism accusations
The Luister documentary that went viral in August highlighted alleged racism suffered by black students on campus. The University’s management was called to explain themselves in the National Assembly while students, of different races, protested outside parliament on the day. Vice-Chancellor Wim De Villiers said that, while the incidents mentioned in the documentary were “painful and unsettling”, Elsenburg (the campus mentioned in the documentary) was not part of Stellenbosch University. The university’s SRC was also present and outgoing chairperson Stefan Lang concluded by saying “Stellenbosch has racists but the university itself is not racist.”
Crime stats released in parliament
This week, the Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko, presented the latest crime statistics before the portfolio committee on Police. The stats were not all positive: the murder rate is up by 4.6%, sexual offences are down by 5.4% and residential robbery went up by 5.2%. In addition, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said that peer pressure among youth acts as a catalyst in committing crime.
Reliable and safer learner transport discussed by MPs
The Department of Transport delivered the approved National Learner Transport Policy and Implementation Plan to the Basic Education committee. The policy aims to address transport challenges faced by learners (which include unroadworthy vehicles, learners having to walk long distances to get to school and learner safety getting to and from school).
Learners from grade R to Grade 12 as well as those with disabilities will be covered by this policy.
By Sheilan Clarke and Babalwa Quma
Live from Parliament casts a youth lens on parliament and government, covering committees, policy-making, MPs, and the sitting of actual Parliament. Our team of youth journalists report Live from Parliament every week in partnership with the People’s Assembly and Making All Voices Count.
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