Note to editors: This is the June edition of Mzansi Today, DA Youth Leader Makashule Gana’s monthly newsletter to DA Youth members.
Youth month is upon us, and with it the normal rounds of celebrations and events. This year, however, with a badly organized, shambolic Youth Parliament during which any dissenting voices to the ANC were suppressed, and a President that chose to leave the country on Youth Day, it has become evident that much of the attention that government pays to youth issues is simply hollow lip service.
As young people, we have more of a challenge than ever to credibly and meaningfully engage with our leaders over the numerous crises we face.
Like the youth of 1976, we have to rise up and unite our voices to fight for the opportunities that are being denied to us – in 2012 it is the opportunity to access a quality education and get a foot in the job market so that we can break ourselves free from the cycle of poverty.
As the DA Youth, it is our duty to give young South Africans that voice – a voice so strong that it cannot be ignored by government. During 2012, that voice has, and will continue to speak about youth unemployment.
We have all seen the statistics and feigned horror when we learn that 3.2 million young people are without work, but what do those numbers really mean? Do we really have a sense of the scale of this crisis?
I would like to venture that we do not, hence we have decided to launch the Face of Unemployment campaign.
As a part of this campaign the DA Youth has collected and been sent photographs from every corner of our country of hundreds of young South Africans that are unemployed. Jobless and almost hopeless, we have captured images of people like 21 year old Anele Xhati who wants to work in office administration but has struggled to find work for over a year, 25 year old Angelique Smith who has been unemployed for 2 years and 28 year old Xolisa Thiring who, after 10 years of searching, has given up hope of ever finding a job. We also found Sharmima Vala, now 25, who has spent her entire 20’s without work.
The aim of the campaign is to remind South Africans, and especially our leaders, every day as they go about their business what our President is costing us by failing to implement a Youth Wage Subsidy.
Through the campaign we want to demonstrate that unemployment is not just a statistic – behind every one of the 3.2 million young people who are unemployed are real people, real stories and real hopes and dreams. Every day that the President delays the implementation of the Youth Wage Subsidy is another day he postpones the dreams of these young people.
The campaign showcases these dreams to South Africa and challenges our President to look beyond the statistics and see the real harm his political game with Cosatu is doing to each of these young people.
As well as collecting images of unemployed young people on Facebook and erecting billboards bearing their faces, in July we will take 423 unemployed South Africans and their photographs to the President in his office at the Union Buildings. This will represent the 423 000 job opportunities that a Youth Wage Subsidy could create. We will challenge the President to look into each of these young people’s eyes and tell us he still refuses to help them.
2012 will be the year that the youth unemployment crisis is turned around, and the DA Youth will be the organisation leading the charge.
DA Youth Federal Leader