Words by Abel Dantyi
Pictures by Siyabonga Mkhasibe, Siphelo Tototo and Leon Tshiza
“What have you done for me, lately?” Janet Jackson’s song poses the question Mzansi’s youth have been asking of the Government for some time now. LIVE chatted with Muhammad Khalid Sayed from the ANC Youth League and Thorne Godinho from the DA Youth League to find out what our ruling party and its main opposition have done for us in the past five years.
ANC: Fought for the establishment of National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which aims to equip young entrepreneurs with business skills to help grow their businesses and create jobs.
DA: Fought for the implementation of the youth wage subsidy, which the DA predicts will create over 400,000 jobs. The subsidy has yet to be implemented, due to COSATU’S opposition.
Also empowering youth through entrepreneurial competitions: Yearly entrepreneurial competitions allow young people to submit business ideas that can be funded up to R10 000. The idea must be practical in the long run and create jobs.
ANC: Allocated student loans such as NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme), which pays tuition fees for disadvantaged students who can’t afford to pay their way at universities. Also allocated bursaries to students who can’t afford tuition fees at FET colleges.
DA: Fought for the zero-tax campaign, which removed the tax on academic textbooks so students could afford them.
The DA’s Student Organisation (DASO) at the University of Pretoria also spent over R400 000 to help students who would be kicked out because they can’t afford to pay tuition fees, and to fund a textbook library and help with transport costs for inner-city students.
ANC: The ANC’s Sayed says: “The high rate of crime in this country is very bad, but as the youth league, both national and provincial, we will address the underlying problems like drugs and unemployment.”
DA: The DA’s Godinho agrees with Sayed, stating; “As DA youth, we are fighting the high level of crime by eliminating the underlying issues such as unemployment by having entrepreneur competitions and the youth wage subsidy.”
COMMITMENT TO YOUTH ISSUES
“ANC youth league is not neglecting the youth, but needs to get rid of the DA first; naturally in order to improve the lives of young people, we cannot have the DA in power, and it is the only way we can improve the lives of the youth,” asserts Sayed. Meanwhile, Godinho claims: “ANC is the greatest stumbling block in getting the work done. DA policies cater for the youth of Mzansi, and not about competing with the opposition.” With all this finger pointing back and forth, one wonders how much either of them really care about doing anything for youth issues.
According to politics professor at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), Sheila Meintjes, “Competition between parties is what politics is all about. But the youth leagues should come together and make sure they cater to the issues of the youth such as job creation and access to education.”
On the flipside: there’s a big gap for the new parties to satisfy the demands of the youth of Mzansi Afrika. The question is: are we ready for change?
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