A delegation of young unemployed graduates from The Unemployed Youth, a recently formed national group, embarked on a Gauteng protest under the hash tag #NoJobNoVote on Thursday. The group led by Innocent Khumalo (26), is threatening to not go to the polls next week for the national elections until all 46 392 youth on their database receive employment.
Speaking to City Press, Ndumiso Mpungose (22), marketing management graduate from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) said he has been unemployed for three years. “How can they expect us to vote while we are on empty stomaches. What is the rationale that motivates us to vote? We are hungry and we are going to Luthuli House to hand over our memorandum. We will not vote until they hear us."
Ziyanda Mdingi (27), community development and leadership graduate from the University of Johannesburg said she only received a one year internship. “I have had to sit at home for three years. Right now I am starting to really undermine and not value the education thing. It has done nothing for me, it’s not taking me anywhere. If government doesn’t respond on Monday I am not voting," she added.
The delegation met with ANC General-Manager Febe Potgieter-Gqubule at the ANC headquarters of Luthuli House and were received by Potgieter-Gqubule and representatives from the ANC economic transformation committee that includes trade and industry, youth development, as well as the ANC professionals’ league committee, and the Office of the Secretary-General.
- Unemployed but qualified (graduates) youth of South Africa having free access to the government departments to make free copies of their CV’s and their business proposals;
- Graduates that have no income being allowed to travel freely in all government transportation to submit their CV’s and going for interviews;
- Government internships to be 3 years;
- Internship programmes to pay interns the same amount as permanent staff members, “since the duties are the same and equal”; and
- a Department of Youth and Job creation that will be led by a youthful relevant minister.
The group expected these demands to be met by the end of the meeting but after nearly an hour of engagement the group changed tune and conceded to the planning of a job summit, said to be hosted in June by the ANC and were open to voting on May 8.
Khumalo, who led the group, described the outcomes of the meeting as being a step in the right direction. “It was quite a progressive gathering. We are however a bit worried if the said commitments would be realised. These engagements have happened in the past and nothing came of them but we have decided to not look at the past for references. The ANC delegation agreed with us on how genuine our cause is and we brought with a database and CV to plead our case. Our members said this fight must continue until we are all with a job”.
Speaking to City Press, Potgieter-Gqubule denied that the ANC’s decision to meet with the young people was part of electioneering. “I received the request from the Unemployed Graduates in April, before Easter, and we agreed to meet because it’s an issue we are concerned about, in and outside of election time”.
Potgieter-Gqubule added that the ANC believes the grievances of the youth are genuine and deserving of their attention.
“The frustration of having been through higher education and not finding a job is deeply frustrating, given the personal and family investments and sacrifices. The fact that they are organised is an advantage which gives them a voice, but also capacity to find solutions since they have the database.”
When asked if the ANC was concerned by the youth’s threat to not vote she said: “We believe honest engagement on what is possible and follow-up is important, not just to convince them to vote. We believe they will do the right thing and participate in this important moment for South Africa.”
The group also left behind their CVs and were treated to scones and fruits and jokingly encouraged one another to eat as they are without a job and food.
“To be honest we took it with respect as ubuntu. I imagine they also treat each other like that, and the CVs were with us to really legitimise and back up our cause that we are not random people with nothing to show, we actually are skilled and qualified graduates,"Khumalo said.
When asked if the group is going to vote, Khumalo said: “It will depend on their response. If they do not respond to our primary demands, including committing to implementing certain initiatives. But we will respond on the 6th formally."