The National Assembly had an oral reply session from the government cluster, which consists of The Presidency, Women In the Presidency, Public Service and Administration and the Department of Traditional Affairs. They discussed issues ranging from the violence against women and children as well as the government’s plans to use conscription to address youth unemployment.
Here are some highlights:
Will young people be forced to join the army?
Last month, it was revealed that the presidency was considering conscription as a means of decreasing youth unemployment. According to media reports, the compulsory military training was the department’s way of bolstering the government’s National Youth Services programme (which aims to better society by developing the abilities of young people). The DA’s Phumzile Van Damme asked whether this was still set to happen. Minister of Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, said they had appointed a task team to look into the matter.
DA MPs Mike Waters and Sej Motau pressed for a response, with the latter commenting that forcing young people to join the army would be a “return to apartheid”. Shabangu responded: “Any young person who joins the army will do so voluntarily. The choice is still theirs.”
What’s being done to curb the death of initiates?
Mkhulekho Hlengwa, an IFP MP, asked the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs about the number of initiates who died during the winter initiation period and how the minister plans to curb deaths during the summer initiation period.
Andries Nel, the deputy minister, said 34 deaths had occurred during this year’s winter season (last year 80 initiates died during the same period). “We’re working closely with SAPS, traditional leaders and the Department of Health to curb the deaths in initiation schools.” Nel added that the partnership has resulted in 31 cases of murder being opened in the Eastern Cape, two arrests in Limpopo and the detention of six traditional initiation school principals in the Western Cape.
“The Department of Women has failed South African women” – Denise Robinson
New research suggests that of the 62 649 sexual offences reported during 2013 and 2014, only 5484 resulted in convictions (less than 10%). The DA’s shadow minister of Women in the Presidency, Denise Robinson, called this a disgrace and asked what department was doing to address this.
“I haven’t seen the stats you’re referring to,” minister Susan Shabangu replied. “But we have not failed women. In fact, this Friday, together with the deputy president [Cyril Ramaphosa], we’ll be hosting a roundtable to deal with gender-based violence. We can’t only engage survivors and victims, we need to engage both men and women.”
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