Good afternoon and thank you for joining us as we commemorate Youth Day. Earlier today, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a virtual keynote address to our country’s youth.
We take this opportunity to join the President in affirming that indeed the youth of South Africa remains the best hope for our country; they carry the dreams of the nation, and they are the unquestionable agents of change.
To realise the full potential of our youth, the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal remains steadfast in mainstreaming youth development and empowerment.
We are a pro-poor and pro-youth developmental state because we know that our youth are an important asset, not a burden.
We see the considerable youth demographic in our country and province not as a weight or problem, but as a resource and an important dividend for socio-economic development.
In recognition of the strength, determination, and resilience of the young people of this country, this year we commemorate Youth Day under the theme, “ Youth Power: Growing South Africa Together in a Period of Covid-19.”
As we face the difficulties and challenges of Covid-19, we have no doubt that the youth of our province will rise to the occasion to overcome this pandemic.
On youth day, we pay tribute to the fallen young martyrs on 44 years ago in June 16 in Soweto and later throughout the country.
We draw inspiration from the power of the youth which marked a decisive turning point in the liberation history by their bravery and determination to face the monstrous apartheid regime.
Through their selfless action in the fight against apartheid, we continue to reap the benefits 26 years into our freedom.
We are certain that the current generation of youth will continue to draw inspiration and fortitude from the discipline, determination, and patriotism of the class of 76. To honour them, we must continue to work together to build a South Africa that is truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal, and prosperous.
Because of their bravery and courage, today the doors of learning and culture are open for the children of the poor and working class at institutions of higher learning.
Because of their sacrifices, today the children of the poor access no fee-paying schools, receive a nutritious meal, and are assisted with transport.
On Youth Day, we also recognise and honour many of South African young people who are giving hope by being torchbearers in various fields of human endeavour. These are young people who enable not just their peers, but the whole nation to dream again and to imagine afresh a world that knows no underdevelopment, poverty, and inequality.
These are inspiring young leaders driving innovation in science, ICTs and clean energy.
They are hardworking, motivated, and self-driven. We find them leading in business, health, sports, media, civil society and philanthropy.
Supported by our government, they have taken advantage of opportunities to deliver important public infrastructure like dams, bridges, roads, clinics, hospitals, and schools.
While we recognise and celebrate youth power, we know very well that many more young people are languishing in poverty without access to economic opportunities.
We are aware that it is our youth whose potential is being frustrated as they continue to carry a disproportionate burden of unemployment. While others lack adequate skills to be absorbed in the economy, some are struggling to find work or start businesses while they have tertiary qualifications.
Twenty six years into democracy, young people in South Africa face multiple, persistent socio-economic challenges that threaten their very well-being. These include, for instance:
• Unemployment. Unemployment for 15-24 was at 58.2% in Q3 of 2019).
• Low transition rate from schooling to participation in the economy.
• High Drop-out rates - only 60% of those who start Grade 1 actually write matric.
• Poor reproductive health and substance abuse.
• High levels of GBV
• Unacceptably high suicide rates (1 in every 40 seconds).
• Lack of social cohesion and unity.
• Racism, sexism, inequality, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.
In this regard, Covid-19 is only exacerbating a socio-economic situation which was already in decline. It is adding to joblessness, poverty, trauma, and untold stress. And the World Health Organisation is correct to describe the pandemic as public enemy number one which requires our utmost vigilance and change of behaviour to defeat it.
This is about us washing our hands with soap regularly, observing social distancing, wearing masks, and limiting the infections by avoiding crowded public spaces.
As they say, our fate literally rests in our own hands, and we must therefore continue with frequent hand cleaning with alcohol based hand rub or with soap and water.
As restrictions are eased, we must continue to observe social distancing even more carefully and wear face masks whenever we leave home.
We urge you to ensure that your actions speak louder than words by practicing social distancing and following good hygiene habits.
The transformation in behaviour that is required from all citizens is a transformation that is required in our institutions as well. We know now that we do not want to return to a world where the majority live in poverty, without water, without adequate healthcare, and without economic opportunities.
We look to the youth of this province and country to use their energy and resourcefulness in the reconstruction and development of our country and province. It will not be an easy victory, but one that the youth must accomplish supported by their democratic government.
Today, our country needs the type of youth which was described by Anton Lembede in November 1945 where he said:
“We are not called to peace, comfort and enjoyment, but to hard work, struggle and sweat. We need young men and women of high moral stamina and integrity; of courage and vision. In short, we need warriors. This means that we have to develop a new type of youth…a youth of stoical discipline, trained to endure suffering and difficulties. It is only this type of youth that will achieve the national liberation of the African people.”
The generation of Anton Lembede, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, AP Mda, Dorothy Nyembe, Victoria Mxenge, Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph, Hector Peterson, Tsietsi Mashinini, Portia Ndwandwe and many more helped us achieve the political liberation of the black majority from apartheid-colonialism.
Today, we need new disciplined and committed youth warriors who will lead our country in global war against Covid-19 and lead South Africa to achieve economic emancipation for all our citizens.
The Provincial government is deeply invested in the success of the youth of KwaZulu-Natal. We urge our youth to make use of the educational opportunities that are provided by this democratic government. We cannot overemphasise that it is more challenging to overcome the indignity of poverty for citizens who drop out of school early or those who have no skills.
Education and health remain our apex priority as the KZN government. We urge the youth to adopt healthy lifestyles which should include regular exercise, avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs.
There is no shortcut to success, so please stay away from crime no matter how tempting it may look. You will be caught and forced to spend your productive years in prison.
HIV and TB infections remain major causes of death, so please, if you are sexually active, use a condom to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you are infected, get counselling and treatment. Remember that TB is curable, so please adhere and complete your TB treatment if you are diagnosed with it.
Let us fight stigma and ignorance around all diseases, but in particular the epidemic of stigma associated with HIV, TB, and now, COVID-19.
When we discriminate against sick people, we make the diseases go underground and difficult for us to defeat.
Let us stand up against the so called ‘blessers’ or ‘sugar daddies’ who take advantage of young vulnerable women. And we again wish to caution teenage girls and young women to avoid falling pregnant when they are not ready because having a child when you are struggling can frustrate your future plans.
We ask this generation of the youth to think outside the box and bring proposals that will end the scourge of violence directed at women and children.
In your circles and organisations as young people, please discuss what we could do to create a new South African man who will not abuse a woman verbally, psychologically, sexually, or physically. We need our young people to be at the forefront of the campaign for moral regeneration and social cohesion.
To our girls and young women, please complete school and pursue tertiary education at our TVETs and universities so that you can empower yourself and not be forced to live with an abusive partner.
We applaud the Department of Education in the province for working tirelessly to ensure that we do not lose the academic year because of COVID-19.
We know for instance that during level five and level four lockdown, the department introduced a number of measures to mitigate against the time lost not being in the classroom.
These measures included radio lessons, virtual lessons and making study materials available through the KwaZulu-Natal Funda Portal.
Compatriots, once again, we salute the 2019 matric class and our teachers for obtaining 81.3% for the first time in KZN. This impressive achievement came as a result of our rigorous implementation of the Provincial Academic Improvement Plan.
We continue to make significant investments in Early Childhood Development (ECD) including the training of ECD teachers.
In 2019, there were nearly 4000 schools with Grade R classes and 27 subsidised community-based sites servicing more than 185 000 learners. ECDs have seen 98 per cent of learners receive formal Grade R education.
We are also pleased with the improvement in the performance of learners in the new technical subjects which include Civil Technology, Electrical Technology Mechanical Technology, Technical Mathematics, Technical Sciences, Digital Systems, Fitting and Mechanic, Welding and Metal Working, Electronics, Technical Science, and Sign Language.
To adequately prepare and meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are piloting the introduction of Coding and Robotics at Foundation Phase in KZN.
As we speak, 60 primary schools, 55 multi-grade schools and 8 special and full-service schools in Grade 7 have been identified to model the teaching of these subjects.
In addition, the Department of Education in partnership with Vodacom, will during the course of this financial year train 900 girl learners from disadvantaged communities under their programme called “Coding like a Girl”.
The Department of Education budgeted R49, 8 million in the 2019/2020 financial year to rollout an e-Learning Solution to 100 schools, starting with 50 schools in uThukela District and 50 schools uMzinyathi District.
We care about the education of Learners with Special needs. Currently we have 74 such schools in KwaZulu-Natal catering for deaf, blind and learners with intellectual disabilities and autism.
This government continues to prioritise the building of new schools, and we urge our youth to look after these assets and to help us root out the culture of violence and destruction of public property.
In his recent Budget Vote Speech, the MEC for Education in KZN, reported that the following schools have been successfully been completed:
- La Mercy MST Academy in Pinetown District at a cost of R252 million.
- New Mahlabeni Primary School in Umkhanyakude District at the cost of R39 million.
- KwaMbonambi Secondary School in King Cetswayo District at the cost of R39 million.
- Holinyoka Primary School in Zululand District at the cost of R41 million.
- Ntshongo Secondary School in Harry Gwala District at the cost of R18 million.
- Nqobane Primary School in Pinetown District at the cost of R56 million.
- Phumelela Secondary School in Umzinyathi District at the cost of R31 million.
- Incophelelo Primary School in Umlazi District at the cost of R17 million.
- Mbuyiselo High School in Ilembe District at the cost of R17 million.
- Velangaye High School King in Cetshwayo District at the cost of R95 million.
Under construction, are the following schools:
- Sinothando Secondary School in uMgungundlovu District (R32 million).
- Open Gate Special School in uMgungundlovu District (R59 million).
- Collingwood Primary School in uMlazi (R93 million).
- Solomon Mahlangu Primary school in Pinetown District ( R61 million)
- Dingukwazi Secondary School in Zululand District ( R90 million).
- Pholela Special School in Harry Gwala District (R109 million).
- Xoloxolo Primary School in Harry Gwala District (R56 million. )
- YWCA Special School in aMajuba District (R75 million).
- Lloyds Primary School in iLembe District ( R51 million).
- Fundokuhle Secondary School in uMzinyathi District (R56 million.)
Our government is working hard to tackle bullying at our schools and to improve school safety. We are implementing the Schools Safety Strategy which involves:
- The Deployment of Community Based Volunteers to all our schools.
- Fencing all our schools.
- Establishment of Safety School Committees.
- Regular police patrols and improving police response.
Our provincial government is implementing Radical Economic Transformation or Operation Vula to deracialise the economy and to reverse the exclusion of the youth in the mainstream economy.
Departments have set aside 35% of their budgets to procure from women, youth, and people with disability.
We believe that through an SMME revolution, we will be able to fuel economic growth and create employment as research shows that all over the world, most jobs are created by small businesses.
Our Province is the first to introduce a Youth Empowerment Fund which provides dedicated funding to SMMEs and cooperatives owned by the youth. In October 2019, we provided just over R71 million rand to 55 youth owned businesses which created 408 jobs.
When we launched the Youth Fund, ABSA also supported this initiative by providing a R500-million in a soft-loans programme towards SMMEs working with government. To date, 51 SMMEs have been supported to the value of R158-million – 65% of recipients are African female and 60% are youth.
We announced in the State of the Province Address in March that our Province has again set aside R50-million Rand for the 2020/2021 financial year to support youth owned enterprises. We urge youth and female owned businesses in particular to apply for the funding.
We have also created instruments for microfinance in every district for small business. Through the Department of Economic Development, government has transferred R15, 9 million to Ithala to ensure the support of SMMEs and Cooperatives in the cleaning detergents sector.
We also applaud Ithala for disbursing R226m business loans which resulted in the creation of 546 new businesses and 3 284 jobs during the 2019/2020 financial year.
Through the Enterprise Development Fund and Ithala Development Finance, R274 million was spent to support SMMEs and Co-ops. This translated to 574 new businesses and total of 3683 jobs. We are pleased that of 574 small enterprises supported, about 427 are owned by our target group such as 153 women and 274 youth-owned enterprises.
About 300 jobs have been created as a result of R40 million worth of investments in manufacturing through industrial parks such as Isithebe, Ezakheni and Emadadeni.
Through Ithala, we are also building the rural and township economies by supporting Spaza Shops. Ithala is inviting Spaza Shop owners to apply for working capital of R100 000 and for R50 000 for refurbishment of their outlets.
The provincial Department of Transport is also leading in empowering youth-owned entities for materials sourcing for construction in line with Operation Vula and iGula.
Under the DoT’s National Youth Service, 850 young people will be trained on accredited modules in the 2020/2021 financial year and 50 learners are to be trained on bricklaying apprenticeship through the Zibambele programme.
DoT is partnering with the NYDA to train 6 000 Zibambele beneficiaries on Business Management and Entrepreneurial skills. In addition, 1 032 people with disabilities will be trained on accredited modules.
Our provincial departments are actively recruiting graduates into the Public Service Internship programme which is part of government’s effort to reduce graduate unemployment and build skills to strengthen the capabilities of our developmental state.
We look to the innovative and dynamic youth of KZN to turn the Covid-19 adversity into an opportunity for accelerated and inclusive economic growth.
We have identified key sectors of the economy that we need to focus on to ensure accelerated economic recovery.
These key sectors include:
- Infrastructure Development
- Industrial Development;
- Health Innovation and manufacturing;
- Clothing and Textiles;
- Creative Industries;
- Informal sector;
- Investment and Trade;
- Fourth Industrial revolution;
- ICT and Innovation;
Our economic recovery strategy is anchored on promoting localisation, producing for domestic consumption and the export markets. We are promoting the Buy KZN Campaign and we urge our young people to take pride and be brand ambassadors of goods and services produced in our province.
The wealth of the people of KwaZulu-Natal is their vast and fertile land. We call on the youth to get involved in agriculture and agro-processing to realise the full potential of this strategic sector.
We have a vision of making agriculture a game changer and a catalyst for radical economic transformation.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) is rolling out a Youth Strategy which is informed by the Youth In Agriculture and Rural Development Indaba which took place in Umzinyathi in December 2019.
The Department is establishing the Directorate for Youth, Women and People Living with Disabilities, and we are pleased that 70% of its budget is aligned and biased to youth, women and people living with disabilities.
Empowerment initiatives targeting the youth are housed under the Department’s Inkunzi Isematholeni/ Umthente Uhlaba Usamila Programme.
In 2020/2021 DAARD will massively upscale its EPWP Programme to include the EPWP Youth Brigades; Youth Owned Enterprises / Incubators; ICT Training and Technology Training (4IR) and Youth Farm Experiential Learning.
DAARD’s programme of Farmer Production Support Units (FPSU) and agri-hubs will be used as springboards for the provision of land, tractors, implements, inputs, agricultural training and business skills to rural youth.
EDTEA continues to strengthen the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) Programme.
The Department reports that to date:
- 19 emerging farmers are supplying 27 hospitals weekly.
- 43 farmers are supplying Port Natal and RSA- Durban Fresh produce Markets Agents. They supply green beans, cabbage and butternut.
- More than 13 farmers supply cabbage and butternut to 90 KZN boxer supermarkets. They have been paid R440 000.
- Agrihouse, an HDI Fresh produce Agent who supply Cambridge shops, has also made weekly orders totalling R390 000. About 17 famers have directly benefitted.
Work is ongoing to revitalise the sugarcane industry. In February 2020, the Department of Minerals and Energy published the SA Biofuels Regulatory Framework which provides for the use of sugar in the blending of bio-ethanol in fuel.
These developments will unlock more opportunities in bio fuels, bio plastics and bio-electricity production.
We invite the youth to take advantage of opportunities in medicinal plants and aromatic plants for essential oil production.
We appeal to our youth to take advantage of the new opportunities that are presented by the cultivation and processing of cannabis for local and export markets.
We are preparing our youth to benefit from this multibillion industry. Through the Moses Kotane Institute of Technology, KZN has a fully-fledged Cannabis Unit.
We continue to support Black Industrialists, and to date, 35 black industrialists from KZN have been supported with an amount of R700 million and created 4000 jobs in the process.
We have not yet fully tapped the potential of the oceans economy. There are abundant opportunities for the youth in maritime tourism, ship building and repair, fisheries and maritime support services.
We encourage young people to acquire skills related to the oceans economy at the Maritime TVET College which we launched last year in Umfolozi.
We have put together a strong business case for the establishment of a Clothing and Textile Special Economic Zone (SEZ) ranging from Newcastle to Richards Bay. This initiative will support local designers and expand the manufacturing sector, beneficiation, and localization.
We are forging ahead with our plans to establish a leather processing hub in Pietermaritzburg, and we have already trained 42 people from uMgungundlovu and uThukela Districts.
Covid-19 has propelled our province to move rapidly to ensure that our Automotive Supplier Park SEZ, located in the South of Durban, is fully operational in 2021. In the process, more than 1339 jobs will be created through an investment of R2.2 billion.
As part of revitalization of the township economy, EDTEA will be assisting emerging entrepreneurs that are involved in the automotive industry. The plan is to have township based young artisans and mechanics work in automotive repair centres. There is consensus as well that government departments in KZN must use these centres for repair of government fleet.
Compatriots, we are proud of the athletes, artists, and performers who continue to raise the flag of KZN.
We pride ourselves of a locally brewed television drama which is set in KwaZulu-Natal, produced by a young woman, and enjoys the best audience ratings in the country – and this is Uzalo.
We will continue to support local film productions through the KZN Film Fund.
One of the lessons that we take from the Covid-19 pandemic is the need to accelerate the deployment of internet connectivity in every corner of the province to effectively deliver e-government, e-health, and e-learning.
As government, we will continue to fight for the reduction of data costs to ensure that none of our citizens is left behind in the digital economy and the 4th Industrial Revolution.
We call on the youth of KZN to play an active role in building our economy post Covid-19.
In unlocking the potential of youth, we can rebuild our country’s economy in these difficult times.
We encourage young people with an aptitude for business to grab entrepreneurial opportunities available and start their own businesses.
As we have demonstrated, government has made a massive push to develop small businesses and to encourage greater levels of entrepreneurship among young people.
We ask you again to remain disciplined, vigilant, and to pursue lifelong learning.
We look to the youth to lead the way in this new struggle facing the world – Covid 19.
The youth of 1976 fulfilled their mission by standing up against a murderous regime.
We look to young people be a part of shaping our nation and defining a new way of living post COVID-19.
Play your part in fighting the spread of the COVID-19.
As young people, you can use your technology know-how to find innovative solutions to our country’s most pressing challenges.
South Africa needs the strength of its youth to successfully compete in the family of nations. This is the moment for our youth to demonstrate a culture of patriotic citizenship.
We urge you to love the land again. Be involved in growing family and community gardens, and do you part in fighting starvation and poverty in your neighbourhood.
While we face the uncertainty about Covid-19, may we remember the words of Nelson Mandela where he said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
Let us get to work and ensure that the next decade becomes a decade of accelerating achievement of positive youth outcomes.
Let Us Grow KwaZulu-Natal Together!
I thank you!