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Opening Address by the Hon. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; on the occasion of the Debate on Youth Day; National Council of Provinces, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa; Cape Town

14 June 2018

Youth Action for Jobs and Youth Development: Advancing the Heroic Legacy of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu

Chairperson of the NCOP, Honourable Thandi Modise
Honourable Members
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honor and privilege to address this house on the occasion of a special debate on Youth Day. We are gathered here today following a weekend in which South African youth made history in the sporting field.

On Saturday, the 26-year-old Siya Kolisi led the Springboks team to a historic victory against England. Bong'musa Mthembu (34) also made us all proud with his this victory in the Comrades Marathon. He is the second South African to win in two consecutive years.

What is less talked about is that on Sunday afternoon, our national women's soccer team Banyana Banyana, qualified for the African Women's Cup of Nations with a 6-0 victory over Lesotho. I urge all South Africans to support Banyana as they fly our national flag high in Ghana from 17 November to 1 December 2018.

Their achievements should be a source of inspiration to all of us and noting it would never have happened without the sacrifices of the generation of '76 and also those before and after them. I want to appeal to young people to emulate these great sportsmen and women, and take advantage of every opportunity to excel in their own fields.

JUNE 16 Commemoration

We commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the heroic stance taken by young people against the apartheid state which was intent on dehumanizing black people, at the same time we celebrate the centenaries of great stalwarts of our movement who played critical roles in the June 16 Uprising. President Nelson Mandela and Mma Albertina Sisulu themselves took on the fight for liberation in the prime of their youth despite the adversities and difficulties they faced.

The Apartheid government utilized all the arms of the state - the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, to legitimize their oppression of black South Africans. Youth and children did not escape the ferocity of apartheid. Mma Sisulu, a nurse by profession, a revolutionary and a strong opponent of Bantu Education. She opened her home in Orlando to provide alternative education to many young people. The apartheid government used legislation to shut the school down and many other initiatives.

Young people participated in the liberation struggle not just against Afrikaans, to liberate the black majority from the yoke of oppression. At the launch of youth month, I was impressed with a group of young actors from Soweto who put together their own interpretation of this cathartic moment in our history. They reminded us that freedom was delivered through decades of struggle, sacrifices and pain inflicted on the oppressed black population by the apartheid government. Our celebrations today should not ignore the painful aspects of this episode in our struggle history.

We dare not ignore the disastrous effects on families separated from their loved ones, either due to imprisonment or acts of murder by the state. We must remember the young freedom fighters whose whereabouts are still unknown.

Honorable Members,

National Youth Day pays homage to the youth of South Africa, inspired by the heroism that lead the 1976 Students' Uprisings. This also offers us an opportunity to reflect on our responsibility as lawmakers and policymakers to ensure that the power of the state is being used to restore the dignity of our people, and young people in particular.

Indeed we have politically freed our people but our dignity has not been fully restored, because there is no dignity in unemployment and poverty. It is against this backdrop that our theme today is,

"Youth Action for Jobs and Youth Development: Advancing the Heroic Legacy of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu,"

Inequality and Youth Unemployment

We must work together to deal with the triple challenge of Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality. Unemployment, especially of youth, which currently stands at 38,2%, remains one of the critical challenges that face our society.

As we formulate policy to fight unemployment, we must not overlook inequality as we deal with poverty and unemployment. According to a report by The World Bank entitled "Overcoming Poverty and Inequality in South Africa", South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world in by any of the following measures:

  • Inequality of wealth
  • Inequality of opportunity
  • Wage inequality
  • Consumption inequality
  • Low inter-generational mobility

  • A Prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development
  • An Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth and caring for children.

We must align our development strategies with the vision and aspirations of the African continent as articulated in the African Union's (AU) Agenda 2063. These aspirations find expression of our cultural identity, our heritage, values and ethics. The African states aspire for:

Honourable Members,

In our efforts to address youth unemployment, we must identify areas with a potential of job creation and economic development. South Africa is surrounded by oceans and this on its own presents great prospects for economic development. The oceans economy is one of the crucial areas that young people need to tap into. In our endeavours to fully exploit the potential of this industry, we have implemented Operation Phakisa on the Oceans Economy precisely because it has a huge potential to be one of the fastest growing industries.

The areas of tourism and creative industries are some of the sectors whose greatest potential has not been fully explored.

We encourage youth to travel the continent, exchange skills and knowledge through books, films, design, poetry and other art forms so that they can appreciate the diversity of cultures in our continent. The creative industries is not only about cultural exchange, but also serves a powerful vehicle that can transform our economy.

National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)

Honourable Members,

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is entrusted with the crucial responsibility of coordinating and mainstreaming youth development across sectors of society. Its responsibilities include initiating programmes directed at poverty alleviation, combating crime, substance abuse and social decay amongst youth.

We are now repositioning the NYDA as a one-stop-shop for youth to access information on career services, skills development and training, innovation as well as entrepreneurial development.

While we are pleased with the achievements of the NYDA, I want to state it categorically that youth development is not the sole responsibility of the NYDA, nor is it the responsibility of government alone. Youth development is everybody's business. Each one of us have the responsibility to ensure that we support all endeavors that seek to empower young people.

Honourable members

It is with pride that today finances can no longer be a barrier to education. Our government is providing free education at both basic education as well as higher education and training.

Education has proven the world through to be the single most important equalizer and an important stepping stone towards employment and the addressing of intergenerational poverty and inequality. This was one of the motivators to providing resources towards no-fee-paying schools and free tertiary education. We are playing our part, it is for the youth to study hard towards academic excellence. That excellence will equip them with the necessary tools and skills so that they may take their rightful place in history as foot soldiers for a radical socio economic transformation.

Our next challenge is to improve the quality of our education so that we can produce professionals who will become global leaders in their specific fields.

BRICS Youth Summit and SADC Youth Ministers Meeting

Honorable Members, Fellow South Africans,

We will also be hosting the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Youth Ministers' Meeting in August 2018. Young people will be afforded an opportunity to network and share experiences with the delegates including Youth Ministers from various participating countries. In this way, we are trying to ensure that young people are the integral part of future development plans.


The young people of past generations fulfilled their mandate. The youth of today must define their own mandate, and economic freedom is integral to that mandate.

As Frantz Fanon said: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it."

The generation of 76 made its sacrifices and contribution to deliver political freedom, this generation has defined its mandate of achieving economic emancipation, ours duty is to work with the to ensure that their generation does not betray its mission.

Thank you.

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