Business leaders react to youth league march

2011-10-29 10:06

The ANC Youth League’s mass march for “economic freedom” received a favourable reception from most of the young business leaders interviewed by City Press this week.

One leader, however, criticised the march and said that ­engaging with big businesses in meetings was more likely to yield results.

Sandile Dlamini, board member of the Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council’s KwaZulu-Natal chapter, said that unemployment was a big ­issue but that there were better ways to address the problem than resorting to marching.

“As a young person, I think the youth league should focus on holding discussions with big businesses instead of organising marches, which I doubt will achieve anything,” said Dlamini.

“Something like the Youth Economic Summit, for instance, would have served a ­better purpose,” he said.

Malose Zondo, president of the Gauteng Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commenting in his personal ­capacity, held a different view.

Zondo said the youth league’s goal of economic freedom ­resonated with the youth.

He said the government should lead by example in ­empowering young people.

“The government is the ­biggest procurer of goods and services, but it has a bad habit of not paying its suppliers on time,” he said.

“I usually get a loan from a bank to buy goods that I will ­supply to the government,” he said.

“And if the government only pays me five months after I have supplied the products, this means I will not be able to make a profit because the payment will go towards servicing the interest on the debt,” said Zondo.

The Economic Freedom march came when a report released by the SA Institute of Race Relations showed that ­unemployment was worsening.

The report shows that last year, 51% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 were ­unemployed.

The institute’s report says 3.3?million youngsters in South Africa were unemployed, ­unschooled and untrained.

The report says that African women aged between 15 and 24 are hit the hardest as 63% of them are unemployed.

Youth unemployment among Africans stands at 57%, among coloureds 47%, among Indians 23% and among whites 21%.

Though the midterm budget speech this week didn’t say much about how youth unemployment will be tackled, the Treasury has come up with the youth employment subsidy.

This aims to narrow the gap between ­entry-level real wages and productivity for young people.

The Treasury’s policy option document, titled Confronting Youth Unemployment, states that the initial calculations of the jobs subsidy suggest that the youth fund will subsidise 423 000 jobs below the personal income tax threshold and create 178 000 net jobs for young people over three years at a cost of R5 billion in tax expenditure.

Tshiamo Dichabe, a director of the Commercial Agriculture Youth Chamber, said: “I support the march as it is relevant, though I was not able to ­participate.”

Dichabe, however, questioned the intentions of the march.

“When I analyse the political climate, it appears there were hidden agendas. But at face ­value, I will give it the benefit of doubt as the official intentions are good,” he said.

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