Parliament recently hosted a Youth Round Table Discussion where the National Development Plan and other youth issues were discussed. Young MPs from all provinces and civil-society were part of the discussion. The event was poorly attended by young people, as EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was quick to point out. “Where are the young people? Honourable (Mosiuoa) Lekota, are you young? We want to hear from the young people,” he said. Though some in the opposition agreed with Ndlozi, he was heckled by others. Ndlozi later stormed out of the venue. We tried to find out how the invitation process for this event worked but we were unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, lots of interesting and valuable discussions took place when delegates were split into four commissions to brainstorm solutions around various themes that affect the youth. After the brainstorm, delegates reconvened to present their ideas on issues on the table, including health, social transformation and sports. Here are the highlights:
Public participation through social media
The DA’s Terri Stander proposed parliamentarians and government officials look into using social media to reach out to young people: “If we provide a live online platform where the youth can tweet, email or submit online to say, ‘hey, this is what I think’, then someone needs to be responsible for collation and giving the information to the oversight bodies.”
Sports in schools
The ANC’s Tasneem Motara said the education and sports departments needed to work together to fix school infrastructure: “There is a requirement to align the two [departments] as well as to do proper budgeting.” She said more support needed to be given to sports like netball, which does not receive the same level of support as soccer, rugby and cricket.
Health and social transformation
The DA’s Zakhele Mbhele said the attitudes of health workers were an impediment to young women receiving help from clinics, especially for contraception or issues to do with sexual health. He said although the laws and policies are there, their effectiveness needs to be monitored better. “There’s a very clear ban of selling alcohol near schools. Yet, in township communities, you still find shebeens near schools when they are legally not allowed to operate there. This contributes to the social ills of alcohol abuse young people face.”
A query was raised from the floor urging Parliament to have a report back, on what actions have been taken to avoid this discussion turning into another “talk show”.
To get an invite to parliament events, you or your organisation need to be on Parliament’s PR mailing list. Or be on the lookout on the social media platforms.
Tell us your thoughts of the Round Table Discussion or pose any questions you have in the comments section or on social media.
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