South Africa’s youth missing on election day

By Thesouthafrican.com

South Africa’s sixth general election took place on 8 May 2019. Notably absent from the voters is one population group heavily affected by the country’s most pressing issue: unemployment.

While the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) recorded a record number of voter registration for the 2019 elections, the statistics of registered voters have a notable absence.

People aged under 30 make up the smallest percentage of registered voters nationally. Considering this is the country’s largest population group, it’s a particularly alarming statistic.

The number of South Africans under 20 who have registered to participate in the general election has dropped to the lowest level since at least 1999, according to the IEC’s data. Registrations are at the lowest in at least a decade for those aged between 18-29.

The IEC only started keeping records by age after the country’s first democratic elections back in 1994.

It’s also surprising considering how, superficially anyway, the youth have appeared to be highly engaged in politics in the wake of the #FeesMustFall movement.

The leaders of the country’s two main opposition parties – Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – are also relatively young. Both are 38 and some of the country’s biggest problems directly impact on the missing voters.

More than half of South Africans aged 15 to 24 seeking work are unemployed and the country remains one of the most unequal in the world.

South Africa’s registered voters by age group

Photo: TSA

Where is South Africa’s young voters?

Some believe it’s all down to apathy. Indeed, local media who interviewed young people electing not to vote often said that they feel like they are not able to affect change.

Others say that they just do not feel engaged enough by the current crop of political parties or that they simply did not have the time to register.

“There is an element of voter apathy and not political apathy – in universities, you see robust and noisy politics which is usually powerful enough to effect change,” said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, an independent political analyst told Bloomberg.

“The EFF has helped to energize young people. A lot of people on campuses vote for the EFF. The ANC Youth League has been disorganized.”

The election is the first measure of whether President Cyril Ramaphosa can reinvigorate support for a party whose backing rests largely on its liberation credentials, but now faces the prospect of a reduced majority.

South Africa’s election news with a unique WhatsApp channel

By Dw.com

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh is a social commentator, a rapper, a political analyst, an Oxford University Ph.D scholar and a new media innovator.

He’s also the founder of #SMWX – named after himself: Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Xperience.

“And no, it’s not another WhatsApp group,” Sizwe says.

“We don’t add everyone in a conversation at once because if anyone has ever been in a WhatsApp group chat they know how irritating that can become.”

Instead people can contact the team directly and ask questions one-to-one, ensuring a more personal response. They can also watch the video content on YouTube and Twitter.

Sizwe seizes the opportunity in his intro video to play on the phrase: #OutWithTheOld and #InWithTheNew. The clever catch phrase doesn’t only apply to the changes youth want to see in the government which is being elected on May 8.

It also refers to how leaders could choose to engage with the youth, using new media to address a young audience.

The youth vote, Sizwe believes, is the vote of power – although many politicians have overlooked this market, disregarding millennials as apathetic.

Sizwe knows better.

Attracting millenials

The response to his platform, he says, “has been overwhelming, proving that the millennials are anything but apathetic.”

Reaching over 5,000 subscribers within the first two days of its launch on March 10, 2019, #SMWX now has over 11,000 followers. That’s a third of what prime time paid TV viewership attracts in South Africa.

As well as news updates and behind the scene footage of political events, subscribers can give feedback and also request Sizwe’s latest music video.

The rapper and scholar’s ambitious pursuits to combine his love for hip hop music and the fruits of his academic scholarship add a special edge and grit to his WhatsApp channel. In addition, his content promises to deliver all the comedy, tragedy, intrigue and drama of South Africa’s 2019 general elections.

On one episode of #SMWX, for example, Sizwe sits down with young political activist Naledi Chirwa in a colorful urban setting. She is a bold 25-year-old who speaks out against gender violence and how male dominance is causing black women to suffer unjustly. Her aim is to liberate the black woman from patriarchy.

In another, he talks to a local white actress who became controversial for attending an ANC rally and was afterwards called “the white cover girl for the ANC.”

Sizwe also puts together news broadcasts – such as a recent one focusing on shabby infrastructure brought to light when recent flooding further damaged roads and shacks in KwaZulu-Natal province. This has led to ongoing protests, with poor communities taking to the streets in their more affluent surroundings to highlight the inequalities in South African society.

How does a 30-year-old graduate fund such a big project?

Just how the #SMWX concept is pulled together is a question that seems to intrigue many of Sizwe’s Twitter followers – they bombard his feed with endless comments and questions like: ‘Who’s filming?’ ‘Is it just him?’ ‘But who’s doing the digital strategy? ‘This is exciting!’

Sizwe reveals that he does the channel in collaboration with a tech company called Thanga.

He was at school with Thanga’s CEO Roy Barole and the two friends have been chatting for years about doing something groundbreaking.

The May 8 elections provided the perfect opportunity to do just that.

In addition, the two have sought grant funding from the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) which accelerates digital media initiatives in SA, especially those run by independent broadcasters such as #SMWX.

How exactly does #SMWX work?

Thanga uses artificial intelligence, instant messaging and chatbots to run the channel – while still maintaining human interaction with subscribers. This kind of technology is, as one Twitter follower comments, “the next level,” especially for a developing nation like South Africa.

With Thanga covering the technical aspects, Sizwe handles the editorial side of things, which gives him the freedom to focus on topics that affect and interest young people – topics such as racism, unemployment, land reform and access to education.

He’s helped by a team of six creatives to do this.

What will happen to #SMWX after the election?

Sizwe says there are plans to continue after the election, to expand the channel “to different places on the continent and in different languages in South Africa.”

One issue is how to make money from the platform and keep it going in the future without diluting the integrity and values of his brand, Sizwe says.

Do we smell a conflict of interest?

After the many years of ANC corruption and nepotism, South Africans are sensitive to any hint of favoritism or conflict of interest. And Sizwe’s dad is Dali Mpofu, a lawyer who happens to be the chairman of the Economic Freedom Fighters – currently the third biggest party in South Africa.

Sizwe is keen to stress that he shares no political affiliation with his dad’s party or any other party for that matter. He says his channel is neutral and he assures followers that he doesn’t have any political agenda other than to be a voice to a younger generation.

But, he admits, his dad – and his mother for that matter – influenced him in that they made it clear politics was important.

“My parents were always political and I grew up in a political household and so politics has always been a part of my life,” explained Siswe, who back in 2014 shot to fame as a rapper when he penned a political song addressed to then South African president, Jacob Zuma.

Growing up in a different generation, he says the situation is different now to when his dad entered politics during apartheid. The youth of today just want to see the government deliver on its promises.

”My hope is that this platform will act as a catalyst for other young people to build a network or discussion and debate using new technology to contest the mainstream media landscape in South Africa,” he said.

Failure to Win Over Youth Voters Could Put South Africa Economy At Risk

By Dailymaverick.co.za (Sharon Wood)

Some 8m youth voters are either unregistered or registered, but unlikely to vote and 700,000 voters are undecided, given their economic concerns. Corruption and expectations that the economy will not improve post-election are keeping the youth on the fence, while undecided voters cite unemployment as their biggest concern.

Political parties and South Africa have a major challenge as voters gear themselves up to go — or not to go — to the polls on Wednesday 8 May. It’s the perception that none of the political parties is seen be able to solve the most pressing issue voters perceive to be facing the country: unemployment.

That’s according to the latest Citizen Surveys analysis, in April 2019. The South African Citizens Survey took stock of voter sentiment and views after registration closed in April. It’s also in contrast to what parties have been saying in the lead-up to the election. Citizen Surveys’ strategic research director, Reza Omar, says “the political parties’ electoral messages have not always aligned with their political party positioning”.

It is this failure to win the hearts and minds of some eight million youth voters that could put the country at grave risk and put paid to hopes that post-elections some form of Ramaphoria could return as President Cyril Ramaphosa hits the road to fix the economy.

Citizen Surveys delved into youth voter statistics for Business Maverick and found that some 6.1 million of 11.7 million youth voters in South Africa aged between 18 and 29 are not registered. That’s a huge increase of 1.6 million on the 4.5 million voters who were not expected to register, according to earlier surveys.

Add to that the 1.7 million (or 31%) youth voters registered, but unlikely to turn up at the polls, and there could well be a hefty proportion of young voters, the citizens of the future, opting out of the electoral system on Wednesday. That is significant in an election where, as Omar points out, “the choices made by those who have yet to make up their minds [have] the potential to have a large impact on the years to come”.

The underlying concerns of the registered and unmotivated youth voters, of which 63% are unemployed, give some insight into why they are so unimpressed with the political parties that they do not want to vote. The survey found 64% of them believe the economy will not improve over the next 12 months and 87% believe that corruption is increasing.

It’s not just the youth voters who could have a determining influence on the economic climate post elections.

“The key to the electoral outcomes lies in the decision taken by every undecided voter,” says Omar. “The 3% (just under 700,000 people) truly undecided voters remain key to these elections. They are weighing up and considering their options before casting their ballots on 8 May, rather than opting to withdraw completely. How they choose to vote can influence the outcome of this year’s elections.”

She says another factor that could influence who the “undecideds” opt to vote for would be how the parties have managed to position themselves in relation to solving some of the country’s biggest problems, often done through their manifestos and election campaign messaging.

“Often, those voters who make up their minds at the last minute, look to parties that they believe can help solve the issues that most directly impact upon their lives,” adds Omar.

As voters head for the polls, it doesn’t look at all promising. The SA Citizens Survey shows optimism about the future of the economy stands at a miserable 47% compared with 61% when Ramaphosa became president at the beginning of 2018. The overall trend over the past two years shows a decline in perceptions of the economy improving.

According to the 2019 first quarter (January to March) survey results, just more than one in five citizens (21%) felt the economy had improved over the past 12 months.

The most pressing problems cited by voters as requiring proactive attention, in order of importance, were unemployment, crime, poverty and destitution, corruption, delivery of basic services and education.

The survey found 27.5 million people, almost three-quarters of South Africans, felt unemployment remained stubbornly high and considered it to be the biggest problem facing the country. This was followed by crime (34%), poverty/destitution (25%) and corruption (23%). Omar says that the delivery of basic services (housing, water supply, roads, electricity) and education continue to be burning issues, “as is evident by the increasing footprint of service delivery protests around the country”.

This is not a pretty picture for a post-election South Africa. Luckily for the ANC, it is all the leading political parties, including the EFF and DA, which are perceived not to be taking unemployment seriously.

It will come down to the ruling party, and thus the government, putting its money where its mouth is to seriously tackle what voters consider to be the number one economic problem in South Africa. Otherwise, the economy stands to be mired in its sub-2% growth zone for many years to come.

By the time the next elections come around, millions more voters could opt out of the electoral system. DM

South Africa: Non-voting youth are not simply apathetic

By Mg.co.za (Gugu Resha)

It is just hours before the 2019 national elections in South Africa and the hashtag #IWantToVoteBut is trending nationally on Twitter. Just 25 years ago South Africa had its first democratic elections after the fall of the apartheid government. It was a historical moment as millions of South Africans, who were previously excluded from voting by the former government’s racist policies, were exercising their right to vote for the first time.

And yet today, years later, many young South Africans find themselves unwilling to celebrate and exercise this inalienable right for various reasons. The youth demographic has had a notoriously low voter registration and lower voter turnout than any other demographic in recent years.

As a first-time voter, and a young person, I am tempted to map out an elaborate taxonomy of youth voters and all their political, economic and social grievances in order to paint a thorough account of why young people don’t seem interested in politics and voting.

The common go-to is that young people are apathetic and, although this may be true on some counts, there’s as much complexity in youth voters’ views as in any other demographic. No group is a monolith and should not be treated as such — and this should apply to young people, too.

The youth demographic in South Africa includes people aged from 15 to 34, with the legal voting age at 18 years old. That is a broad demographic in itself and the multiplicity of priorities in it is equally broad. This means that treating young people like single-issue voters by latching onto a single youth-friendly policy issue such as “youth unemployment”, however valid and popular, simply isn’t going to cut it. The youth are interested in more than one issue — we are interested in political parties’ plans for making higher education more accessible, how they plan to improve service delivery, their strategy for land reform and how they’re going to bring down the cost of living because we’re paying taxes too.

Young people are also not immune to the general decline in positive perceptions about politics and the effectiveness of democratic electoral processes in delivering services and other political goods. This despondence is only entrenched further by the tokenistic engagement of young people during election periods rather than truly including us in other decision-making platforms.

One can’t ignore the glaring absence of civic education in school curricula. It’s no wonder many South Africans are unaware of other ways to hold the government accountable outside of elections. Our schools do not teach the youth about how laws can be challenged, how the legislatures are comprised, how ward councillors and committees are formed or how they can challenge Bills et cetera. Politicians see votes as the only worthwhile form of participation when it is clear that it takes much more to keep a democracy alive and kicking.

Of course, there is the issue of not relating to the political ideologies or leadership of the competing parties. But in order to move past this hurdle, we need to do better by young people. We need to treat young people like the intelligent, capable and important demographic that we are. Parties and government need to engage young people and welcome them in spaces — not as tokens or a challenge to overcome, but as an opportunity to strengthen our democracy and to tap into innovative approaches and new thinking.

Gugu Resha has a BA honours degree in philosophy from Stellenbosch University and works as a youth programmes and capacity building intern for the South African Institute of International Affairs

South Africa: Empower Youth to Grow the African Continent

By SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

Young people should be provided with information that will arm them for their future, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Bulelani Magwanishe.

“Realising the full potential of the youth is when critical information is availed to arm the youth for future battles and opportunities,” said Magwanishe.

The Deputy Minister was speaking at a Youth Opportunities and Career Expo that was hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), in partnership with the Department of Communications and the Ekurhuleni Metro Municipality in Germiston on Friday.

“We are gathered here during the month when Africa is celebrating Africa Month. We are referring to the Africa whose aspirations reflect our desire for the creation of a continent of free citizens and expanded horizons, where the full potential of women and youth is realised.”

Magwanishe said it is important for all countries on the continent to commit to developing an informed youth that appreciates the challenges and the agenda of the continent.

“It is only when we succeed in creating a working Africa that peace will reign. This expo should therefore be understood in the context of a programme aimed at achieving economic freedom, where all are able to realise their full potential. For any country to realise and sustain economic freedom, they must have developed an informed workforce comprising young people capable of leading a programme for continued change,” said Magwanishe.

He said there is a need to change the mindset of the young people so that they are able to see opportunities in the challenges facing the continent.

The Deputy Minister added that 60% of arable land is in Africa, something that represents myriad opportunities.

“This creates unlimited opportunities for massive employment, poverty eradication, industrialisation, entrepreneurship and scholarly research. Africa needs about a million managers to effectively run the continent’s economy that has a Gross Domestic Product of over R40 trillion.

“We only have 300 000 managers and we need 700 000 more managers. The youth should also be in the forefront of ensuring that Africa’s economic integration does not fail,” he said.

Magwanishe reiterated the importance of the collaboration between government and the private sector in growing the South African economy.

Young voters eager for change in South Africa’s election

By Apnews.com

At 24, Abetse Mashigo was born a year after South Africa’s brutal apartheid system was dismantled. Yet she still feels frustrated by what she sees as continued economic inequality for its people.

And that will be on her mind as she and others vote May 8 to elect a president and parliament.

“South Africa is a great country, but it has many shortfalls,” Mashigo said, flicking her dreadlocks back with a flourish . “Seeing the spectrum of both wealthy and poor, it’s a constant everyday struggle.”

Many of the country’s young voters never directly experienced apartheid’s racial oppression and segregation that was ended in 1994 under South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, and his African National Congress. But they and others say they want to see more drastic change, and leaders of opposition parties are hoping to win their support.

Mashigo said she is angered by apartheid’s legacy, which keeps many blacks in poverty. She said she’s impatient for change, and that’s why she backs the Economic Freedom Fighters, known as the EFF, one of the three main parties among dozens vying for power in the election.

“I’m part of the Red Sea,” she said, jokingly referring to the bright red clothing worn by supporters of the opposition party. “I like the EFF because it is radical and different. It’s rebellious, and I like that.”

The party has pledged to seize white-owned land without compensation and nationalize mines and banks.

Mashigo’s 59-year-old father, Thamsanqa, watches with pride as his daughter voices her outspoken opinions. He shares many of her beliefs but has a more cautious approach, saying he is still undecided which party will get his vote.

Many older South Africans among the 26 million eligible voters still support for the ANC, which has governed for a quarter-century. But they also say they are disgusted by widespread corruption blamed on the party. President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to root out corruption in the country. A former trade union representative, he came to power in February 2018 after Jacob Zuma resigned amid mounting scandals.

The elections are taking place amid growing pessimism. About 64% of South Africans are dissatisfied with the country’s democracy, an increase from 34% who described themselves as unhappy in 2013, according to a Pew Research poll released Friday.

“I have voted in every election (since blacks could vote) and I’m not going to miss this one,” Thamsanqa Mashigo said. “I’ve never had doubts in my mind about who to vote for, but this time … I’m still deciding. … There is doubt in my mind.”

He described a “frightening” life under apartheid, when “people disappeared. I think some families even today don’t know what happened to their loved ones.”

When apartheid ended, “we were really excited about that. … We had a black government and Mandela was president. That was progress! … We said freedom at last was arriving in our lifetime!”

Mashigo, who works in information technology, said he is now disappointed with the ANC.

“The gap between black and white has just grown bigger and bigger. And by 25 years, I expect it to be much better. The gap should have closed, not totally, but at least be on the right track,” he said, adding that the ANC should have focused on education and health care.

Like his daughter, he complained about rampant corruption and the high unemployment rate of 27%.

Unemployment is an even more pressing among the young, with nearly 40% of those under 34 without jobs, according to the government’s Stats SA.

Although disillusioned with the ANC, Mashigo is suspicious of the Economic Freedom Fighters that his daughter supports.

He said he doesn’t trust the EFF’s firebrand leader Julius Malema because “he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar.”

Malema was kicked out of the ANC after allegations of corruption surfaced.

“These guys are disgruntled, that’s all,” Mashigo added.

Nor is he convinced by the other major opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. It was started by white liberals but has attracted considerable black support, winning control of city councils in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It now has a black leader, Mmusi Maimane.

“I don’t think he controls the party the way a leader should control his party,” Mashigo said, leaving him still undecided about how to vote.

There are 5.6 million registered voters between the ages of 18 to 29, nearly one-fifth of those eligible to cast ballots.

They could boost support for the Economic Freedom Fighters, which got about 6% of the vote in the 2014 election and is widely expected to improve on that number.

“These elections are exciting for young voters,” said Lwazi Khoza, a 22-year-old university student and project manager for YouthLab, a youth advocacy group.

“The EFF are appealing to many young voters. The EFF leaders present themselves as rebellious and non-conformist,” she said.

Khoza, who will be finishing her degree this year, said many young voters want change.

“As a young black woman living in post-apartheid South Africa, I am frustrated by the slow pace of change. Yes, things have improved since the apartheid days, but not enough. Things have become stagnant,” she said.

“Are we free? Really? Or are we still being held down because of the past?” she said. “We cannot say we are on an equal playing field, educationally or economically. That’s why many young voters want to see change.”

Makhumo Kwathi, an unemployed 25-year-old who lives with her parents in Soweto, Johannesburg’s largest black township, said she is looking forward to voting.

“I want my voice to be heard,” Kwathi said. “To be quite honest, I’m not going to vote for the ANC, because the ANC has been giving us all these false hopes till now. … All these scandals … Now we can see where our money is going. The ANC is promising us the opposite of what they have been doing.”

Kwathi, a high school graduate who is looking for work as a bank teller, would not say which party she will vote for but said she wants a new government that will create more jobs.

“I want to see change. More youth need to be employed,” she said. “How can we, the youth, be the future of the country when we are unemployed? How can we go forward as a country?”

Politics: Is voter apathy on the rise among SA youth?

By NALEDI MASHISHI AND ONKE NGCUKA

Young South Africans make up the majority of eligible voters who have not registered to take part in next week’s elections, raising concerns over voter apathy barely a generation after many of their parents won the right to vote for the first time.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa says nearly 27 million people registered to vote on May 8 for a new parliament and provincial legislatures, representing about 75 percent of the eligible population.

The commission, however, said it was concerned that about 9.8 million eligible voters who did not register. Of those, about 6 million – more than 60 percent – are under 30 years old.

Reuters spoke to some young citizens to find out why they might sit out the elections, 25 years after members of the country’s black majority cast ballots for the first time, bringing an end to white minority rule.

Many said they did not know who to vote for, as they don’t trust any of the main political parties to address the issues that matter to them.

They complained about a lack of jobs, high crime rates, corruption and poor public services – issues the governing African National Congress (ANC), in power since 1994, has promised to address.

Kananelo Makgetha, 23.

Makgetha, from the Johannesburg township of Soweto, won’t be voting in the elections. The university graduate is too busy trying to find work.

“I come here to the internet café, apply for jobs. That also requires for you to have money to print out, buy time at the internet café, you know what I mean?” he said.

“So where are you supposed to get the money if you’re not working? That’s one of my biggest frustrations. And also you are called for an interview, you are supposed to go there, who has the money to go there? Like, you know for transportation. Where are you gonna take that money from?”

Obvious Mokwena, 23

Mokwena, who lives in the impoverished Johannesburg township of Alexandra, has been eking out a living as a trolley pusher at a mall in the wealthy financial district of Sandton.

“We could vote for the political parties that say they are going to provide jobs, but at the same time, we can’t vote for what we’re not seeing,” said Mokwena.

“There are many issues in Alex (Alexandra), such as crime. People commit crimes because they don’t have jobs. They’d rather rob others, because then they can have the bit of money that they want.”

Solving these issues won’t be easy, he said, but the future of the country is at stake.

“The perpetrators of these crimes are the young generation. They take drugs and commit crimes.”

Aadil Cajee, 25

Cajee, 25, an actuary with a local insurance company in Sandton, says he won’t be voting in the upcoming election as the only party he feels aligns with his interests is the ANC, but he is worried about allegations of government corruption that have been surfacing at a judicial inquiry.

“I figure there’ll be corruption in every government. But the problem I find is that having what came out from the commission of inquiry now recently, and still nothing’s been done, I just find that ridiculous,” said Cajee, who is originally from Rustenburg, in the North West Province of South Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised that those implicated at the inquiry will face the law.

Petronela Mukhine, 20

Mukhine, who is an unemployed resident of Alexandra, doesn’t see a point in voting.

“They’re all doing the bare minimum,” she said of the main political parties. “We need change. A lot of people are unemployed, most of them don’t have houses. They stay in shacks and it’s not safe.”

Anthonino D’Amico, 19

D’Amico, a student at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who comes from Potchefstroom, a small town in the North West Province of South Africa, said he would vote next week.

“People that don’t vote are in my opinion normally the ones that complain the most. Why would they be the ones that want to complain if they don’t try and change what is wrong?”

Source iol

South Africa: Youth Employment Service: Nedbank create over 3 000 jobs for young people

… Fantastic stuff. Cyril Ramaphosa’s Youth Employment Service (YES) programme is already paying dividends, as Nedbank created. thousands of jobs for the youth

By SAnews

Lebogang Sothoane is among the 3 315 young people, who on Thursday were inducted into Nedbank’s workforce through the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative. This brought an end to the 27-year-old’s four-year journey to find employment.

Completing her matric in 2011, Sothoane registered for a degree but was forced to drop out due to financial constraints.

“In 2014, I stayed at home, dropped out and in 2015, I did my Logistics degree through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme [NSFAS],” she said on Thursday.

What is the YES Programme?

Sothoane is among the inductees who will now work for Nedbank under the YES initiative that was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018.

YES is a government initiative that was developed out of a partnership between business, labour and civil society to help young people gain access to employment opportunities. The initiative is led by the country’s President himself.

Sothoane, who shared the stage with the first citizen during a panel discussion together with two other YES inductees, did not hold back in telling the President the challenges they faced in getting a foot in the door of the workplace.

Among the challenges she highlighted were being denied access to entry-level posts due to a lack of experience, as well as financial exclusion at tertiary institutions due to a lack of funds, and cases where one cannot graduate because their student fees are in arrears.

Nedbank on “meaningful” job opportunities

Nedbank Group Chief Executive Officer Mike Brown said the bank is taking on the youth as a way to make a dent in South Africa’s high unemployment figures. He said:

“[We want] to go beyond business as usual and create meaningful job opportunities for our youth. Our hope is that by giving youth the opportunity of their first job, they will go on to become inspiring leaders and entrepreneurs, who will in turn create job opportunities for many other future South Africans”

The President listened intently to the concerns raised by the youth during the panel discussion.

“I am troubled by this,” said the President referring to the country’s unemployment figures and challenges faced by youth in obtaining employment.

In many ways, said the President, Nedbank and other companies who have taken on youth employees have gone beyond the call of duty.

“There are so many unemployed young people. I have interfaced with it at a close range,” President Ramaphosa said, adding that the prerequisite for experience for young employees has turned out to become a barrier.

YES to jobs

To date, the initiative has managed to secure 17 000 work opportunities for unemployed youth, said YES Chief Executive Officer Tashmia Ismail-Saville.

President Ramaphosa recalled how in his youth, he received a hand up from two Jewish women who granted him a bursary so he could obtain a higher education qualification.

He urged those who are part of the programme to not be fearful of their employment ending after 12 months.

“The YES programme… opens pathways and many doors,” said the President in response to one of the concerns raised by young people.

He said many countries around the world have programmes made to empower their youth.

The President also had a few words of advice for the new recruits, urging them to work hard to show off their abilities.

“Sometimes you [will] fail but you must always know that once you fall, you must rise and rise to greater heights.”

Speaking to SAnews following her engagement with the President, Sothoane said she looks forward to giving her best in her new job at Nedbank, while also encouraging others to never give up.

“I advise others to go out and never tire. There are plenty of opportunities,” she said

Source The South African

South Africa: Harambee on what must be done to get young people working

By Tehillah Niselow

“Please give me a moment, I just need to find a quiet spot,” Lebo Nke, an executive at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator began her interview with Fin24 in the bustling offices in central Johannesburg where hundreds of young people on any given day are polishing their CV’s, and learning interview skills.

“Harambee” is a Kiswahili word meaning “we win when we all pull together.” The organisation was established in 2011 by business and government to tackle the youth unemployment problem in South Africa. Early adopters include companies like Hollard and Nandos, who saw an opportunity to get excluded and unemployed youth into their entry-level jobs.

Nke, who heads up partnerships and advocacy efforts at Harambee, says there are many young people who have never been exposed to anyone with a formal job. “Young people don’t know enough about the world of work, it’s like a foreign place,” Nke said.

The unemployment stats, quarter after quarter, confirm the dire situation of unemployed young people. The most recent Statistics SA report for the last quarter of 2018 showed a moderate drop in the jobless rate, while the percentage of youth (15-34) not in employment, education or training rose to 38.9%, with the highest affected category being young black females.

Harambee’s free service targets young people under the age of 35, from low-income households, and while there are a few university graduates, many have not completed their degrees for financial reasons.

Harambee has provided 95 000 jobs and work experiences through 500 “employer partners” which include some of SA’s largest corporates, such as Woolworths, Tongaat Hullet and FNB.

Nke tells the story of an Uber driver from Limpopo who underwent work seeker support training at Harambee’s offices and said he learned how to “package himself” and look people in the eye, a cultural taboo where he was from, but a necessity in the service industry.

She also emphasises the need to help young people talk about the experience they do have, even if it is not a formal job. For example, it is important for young people to see their volunteering as an example of experience in learning skills for work, Nke said. “They’ve got tons of experience in life, they just don’t know what they’re good at and how to tell this to employers,” Nke commented.

Barriers

Transport is one of the biggest barriers facing young people looking for employment, in a country still grappling to overcome apartheid spatial planning.

According to Harambee’s research, if people have to take more than one taxi to work for an entry-level job, their chances of staying in the job are greatly reduced because it begins to cost too much of their salary.

This is one of the policy areas the non-profit is involved in, Nke says, and the country needs to think about providing unemployed youth with a package of support, for example transport and data subsidies.

Nke previously worked as a consultant in corporates such as Accenture, Ernst & Young and De Beers. She counts the volunteering she did while studying economics at Wits University as one of the reasons she was immediately able to find a job after graduating.

Source Fin24

South Africa’s youth feeling hopeless as unemployment takes heavy toll

Even young, qualified graduates are struggling to find work in South Africa. Many feel that the country is at a tipping point as elections near

By Michelle Gumede

A large portrait of a bright-eyed young woman draped in a black graduation robe looms over a spotless, tiled lounge in Protea Glen, a suburb of Johannesburg’s Soweto township.

It is a constant and gnawing reminder of potential that has gone unrealised for ten years.

“It’s like you go to school, you go to school… and then once you are qualified you sit with a whole stack of certificates that you can’t actually use,” 36-year-old Kgomotso Sebabi said.

Armed with qualifications in wealth management, she migrated in 2008 from the small, central city of Kimberley to South Africa’s financial hub, Johannesburg, in pursuit of opportunities.

To date, the holder of two bachelor’s degrees has failed to find a job in her field.

She has since acquired three more post-graduate certificates in a bid to enhance her chances, but all she has managed to secure is a part-time job at a call centre.

“Initially I wanted to see myself grow within the financial sector, maybe become a manager… a finance chief executive or something. But it didn’t go as planned,” she told AFP.

A quarter of century into democracy, South Africa has an official unemployment rate of 27.1 percent.

Among people under 35 the rate is about 53 percent – among the highest in the world.

Causes of unemployment in South Africa are many and complex, the biggest factor being a slow-growing economy which has failed to produce jobs at the pace at which new graduates enter the market.

The government repeatedly vows, especially on the elections campaign trail, to create desperately needed jobs.

According to chief labour statistician Malerato Mosiane, unemployment remained stubbornly high even as the population grew rapidly.

Media graduate Tswelopele Maputla, 22, completed her journalism studies in November 2018 at Rhodes University, but has been nowhere near a newsroom. She mails out job applications whenever she can.

“It’s been incredibly difficult and demotivating,” said Maputla as she finished cleaning her mother’s house in Daveyton township east of Johannesburg.

“I have the skills and it’s just disheartening that I can’t get that one break that I need to prove myself.”

Votes for jobs

As South Africa heads to the polls on 8 May, the promise of jobs has once again become election bait.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed that his African National Congress (ANC) will create “many more” jobs. The party has been in power for 25 years and will, according to all polls, win the majority vote yet again.

“We will be able to create up to 275 000 additional jobs each year,” Ramaphosa said at the ANC’s election manifesto launch in January.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, meanwhile recently told supporters in Johannesburg: “I have a dream of putting a job in every home.”

And Julius Malema, the firebrand leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has warned that South Africa “cannot postpone the jobs question”.

But the promises are up against a lacklustre economy.

The International Monetary Fund in April lowered South Africa’s projected GDP growth rate for 2019 from 1.4 percent to 1.2 percent, citing policy uncertainty which with high levels of corruption and recurrent electricity blackouts, has harmed investor confidence.

The massive unemployment rate is seen as fuelling apathy among many young voters.

The electoral commission has recorded a 47-percent drop in registered voters aged 18 and 19. About two-thirds of the nine million eligible voters who did not bother to register are under 30 years old.

“I’m not voting,” said unemployed agriculture graduate Xhanti Ndondela, 26, who qualified in 2016. “Why should I vote for a government that I will never work for?”

‘Tipping point’

With the dawn of democracy, access to higher education has improved, with the number of graduates from public universities more than doubling from 92 874 in 2000 to 203 076 in 2016.

But there are just not enough jobs to go around.

The government’s target is to cut unemployment by half, to about 14 percent by 2020, but this is “unlikely to occur”, says the World Bank in a 2018 report.

“Overall, since 1994, a growing economy created many jobs in South Africa, but not enough to significantly reduce unemployment,” said the bank.

The former statistician-general and now Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative consultant, Pali Lehohla, has warned of a self-perpetuating crisis.

“We are caught in that process where unemployment, poor education and poverty itself are reinforcing one another. There is going to be a tipping point no doubt,” he told eNCAtelevision news network.

Source The South African