Bleak future for young people if Ramaphosa can't deliver on his promises

President Cyril Ramaphosa at SONA 2020. (Twitter, @PresidencyZA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa at SONA 2020. (Twitter, @PresidencyZA)

While most of South Africa tuned in to the State of the Nation to witness the glitz and glam of the red carpet - others witnessed their money being spent on Gucci and Dior, while they were eating their peanut butter and jam sandwiches for supper.

With EFF secretary general Marshall Dlamini and the red berets delivering on their promise to disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa's SONA - a more emotional stir was needed to an already known habitual display by the party.

Minister Pravin Gordhan found himself accompanied by former president FW de Klerk who recently publicly disagreed with the United Nation’s declaration that apartheid was a crime against humanity - a statement that would set in motion a petition campaign to the Nobel Foundation by Dali Mpofu on behalf of the EFF to strip De Klerk of his peace prize.

While some couldn't help but be left bemused when newly appointed EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo rose on a point of order and ordered Ramaphosa to sit down.

Explaining that he was following the rules of the House and, that, according to rule 14c … the President must sit down before a point of order is raised.

"Sit down President. We are going to help you run this Parliament. Sit down President!" Pambo ordered.

The "youth" in me cannot help but to remember the lyrics of Kendrick Lamar's song "Humble"; and one cannot help but to see right through Vuyani Pambo's audacious interjection.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise - she comes across as a high school detention teacher you did not want to mess with - took no nonsense, stood her ground against the EFF and made it clear that they would not disrupt Parliament - ultimately ending up in their ejection from the House.

A move they would undoubtedly use to garner sympathy in their false claims to be fighting for the people.

Speaking at the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) on 12 February 2020 in the buildup to SONA, Ramaphosa highlighted that not only did youth unemployment remain a top priority for the government, but that it was in actual fact both a political and economic crisis.

Despite 38 000 new jobs created in the fourth quarter of 2019, it is far from enough to deal with the fact that South Africa remains branded with the scarlet H-U-R of a High Unemployment Rate.

In an attempt to instill faith in the government's efforts, Ramaphosa assured his audience that his administration was not only engaging but actively formulating public policies in an attempt to create jobs for young people.

After all the disruptions had been settled, Ramaphosa was finally able to deliver his SONA. A load shedding speech, to say the least.

"Youth unemployment is the biggest problem in our country. We must tighten our belts to address the crisis of youth unemployment," he said.

The President cannot possibly expect citizens of South Africa to tighten their belts any further.

With the working class resorting to online vouchers for groceries and the poor eating less bread than before, is it not impractical for the president to expect ordinary citizens to tighten their belts when MPs, Ministers and government officials' well-fed bellies belie the trouble the economy is in?

Students are going to campus hungry, not able to focus or are living off the bare essentials as their weight and grades begin to drop.

The tightening needs to come from Parliament and MPs first, Mr President!

"We will lead a youth employment initiative which will be funded by setting aside 1% of the budget to deal with the high levels of youth unemployment," he announced.

Ramaphosa announced what he called the six priority actions which are expected to create job opportunities and self-employment opportunities under the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention programme.

Part of this grand plan included a "youth employment initiative" that will be funded by setting aside 1% of the budget to deal with the high levels of youth unemployment.

"These six actions will together ensure that every young person in this country has a place to go, that their energy and capabilities are harnessed, and that they can contribute to the growth of their communities and their country," Ramaphosa said.

While there were many upsides to his speech, such as the reforms in the electricity sector, and the building of nine new technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, a university in Ekurhuleni, a state bank, a sovereign wealth fund and a smart city in Lanseria is far from adequate medication to resuscitate South Africa's economy when the "famous" bullet train has not even been operated on as yet.

His speeches since inception into office has become a hallmark of monumental promises which are barely implementable when the economical situation is taken into account.

As an LLB student at the University of Cape Town, the alleviation of crime and corruption is something I have a particular interest in.

It was but disappointing to hear that a national anti-corruption strategy would be established by mid 2020 - South Africa has got so use to the talk of strategy that we have probably forgotten what implementation looks like.

If the interview of Richard Quest by Bruce Whitfield in Davos is anything to go by, Ramaphosa needs to deal with corruption if we are to entice investors.

I must say, the disappointment I felt when Bruce Whitfield could not mention one single person who had been jailed in regard to state capture, it felt like a slap in my face and that of my fellow South Africans.

The jailing of corrupt officials would not only send a strong message of deterrence but ultimately bestow confidence in the Executive, Parliament, law enforcement, the judiciary and the economy.

If the youth is the future then it is high time that the President delivers to them, because if the youth is unemployed then the future promises  to be bleaker than what the present is.

Mobeen Mohamed

Cape Town

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