MEC Nontobeko Vilakazi speech at the Mier Youth Camp and Summit: 10 February 2023

Programme Director

Acting Head of Department, Mr. Ichabod Manyane
Executive Managers
Departmental Officials
Ladies and gentlemen
Young warriors

Young people are among the world’s greatest assets. They bring energy, talent and creativity to economies and create the foundations for future development. But today’s youth also represent a group with serious vulnerabilities. In recent years slowing global employment growth and increasing unemployment, underemployment and disillusionment have hit young people the hardest. As a result, today’s youth are faced with a growing deficit of decent work opportunities and high levels of economic and social uncertainty.

Unemployment has exacted a big personal toll on our young people.  Failure to find employment has damaging long-term consequences on the lives and career prospects of our young people. Consequently, youth unemployment also has broader social consequences and contributes significantly to growing income inequality and social ills.
En dit is waarom ons hier is vandag. Om U bymekaar te kry as die jong mense van Mier om te sien hoe ons U kan ontwikkel om die beste weergawe van julle te kan wees. Ons Jeug Ontwikkelingsprogramme in die Departement van Maatskaplike dienste focus om jong mense uit armoede, werkloosheid en all verkeerde dinge te haal en hulle te bevoeg met vaardighede- of skills – om self versorgend te kan wees.
Julle is die toekoms van hierdie land en slegs julle kan, met die hulp van hierdie regering wat omgee vir sy mense, n beter lewe en toekoms vir julleself bou.
Met ons besoek aan Mier het ons met meer as twee honderd jongmense gepraat oor hoe ons hulle kan help om vir hulself n toekoms te kan bou e nook om by te dra tot die ontwikkeling van hierdie land en provinsie.

On the 24 and 25 August 2022, the Public Service Commission held community consultation sessions with the people of the Kalahari where service delivery challenges were identified. The youth from the area raised concerns over lack of developmental programs aimed at young people. They further raised the following as concerns:
•    High level of school drop- out.
•    Lack of sports and recreation facilities and programs
•    High level of Drug and Substance abuse
•    Lack of training or development opportunities
•    High level of Poverty
•    High level of youth unemployment
•    Lack of social services in the community
•    Lack of funding for youth development programs
•    Lack of Safety
•    Lack of access to basic service for the youth such as sanitary towels
•    Poor network connectivity, thus preventing youth to access to information

However, these challenges are not insurmountable, as long as our policies, our institutions, our individual and joint actions are geared towards the elimination of the atrocity of poverty.  Becase like Hanan Morsy, I too believe that “the energy, skills, and aspirations of young people are invaluable assets that no society can afford to waste.”

Therefore, we draw strength from the Book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible which contains some commandments that captures the essence of what I believe constitute important features of the Spirit of Ubuntu, which we should strive to implant in the very bosom of the new caring society we seek to create.  
The Proverbs say:
“Withhold no good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thy hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
“Devise no evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee. Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.”
The Book of Proverbs confirms our inborn ability as human beings to do good to others, if the opportunity to do so prevails.  It proclaims we have the human capacity to do as it says – not to withhold the good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of (our) hand to do it, and not to say NO to our neighbour, come again, and we will give you something tomorrow, when we can give the necessary help today.
The youth are our most precious resource, the future of our country will be determined more than anything else by the character of our youth.  We must therefore ensure that our young people are adequately prepared, their talents and potential must be harnessed and their untapped potential discovered and nurtured if we want to achieve the dreams of a prosperous South Africa.  It is us who must create a conducive environment for our young people to discover their mission and fulfil that mission because betrayal of that mission is no option.
We must create the opportunities for our young people to meaningfully engage in the creation of a caring society. Because like Karl Marx, (Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte) I believe that “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

History has selected you young men and women seated here today to become history makers and it has charged you with the responsibility to create a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.  However, like many generations before you, you do not have the luxury to make history from self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.  Ours was a struggle for political freedom, yours is a struggle for economic freedom, because, we did not just seek freedom but the opportunity to chose, the opportunity to restore the dignity of our people.  The opportunity to empower our people with the much needed skills to compete in the labour market and migrate out of the triple challenges of Unemployment, Poverty and Inequality.
Because if we are to build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and democratic South Africa, we must provide our young people with access to quality education, training and skills development interventions that will make it possible for all of us to participate in the rebuilding of our economy.
Ek vertrou julle verstaan wat ek nou gese het en wil ook nou baie streng met julle praat. Dit is noodsaaklik da tons eerlik wees met mekaar en se wat ons sal saam vorentoe vat.
Dit is nie net die regering se verantwoordelikheid om toe te sien dat julle ontwikkel nie. Ons kan help waar ons kan en die nodige dienste voorsien wat julle sal help om te ontwikkel. Maar dit het nodig dat julle saam met ons werk. Ons kan nie U toekoms vir U maak nie. Net julle kan dit doen. Ek het gese ons sal help, maar julle bly verantwoordelik en julle moet die werk insit.
Die regering het baie geleenthede vir veral jongmense om te ontwikkel en te groei. En die beste van geleenthede vra dat julle n goeie skool opvoeding het. Dit is teleurstellend om te sien hoe baie jongmense uit die skool vroeg gaan en net niks word.
Ons het gesien die onlanse matriek uitslae end it het my laat dink. Almal wat die eksamens geskrf het, het onder Covid gegaan. Maar tog het baie student baie goed gedoen terwyl ander nie so goed gedoen het en van hulle ook nie geslaag het.
And the reason why some students did well was simply because they were dedicated, they were committed, they were disciplined and they had the will to succeed. And I am speaking about students from your community and surrounding areas and under the same circumstances and challenges you faced.
One weet dwelm en drank gebruik is n problem in ons gebiede. On sweet en sien die baie sosiale probleme in ons gemeenskappe en svan julle jongmense gebruik hierdie as n verskoning om dwelms te gebruik en om roekeloos te drink. En hierdie goed wat julle so gebruik en wat so skadelik is, is nie verniet nie. Dit kos geld en dan moet julle alle verkeerde dinge doen om hierdie gif te rook en te drink.

So the decision lies with you. Only you can make that change for the better. We can and we will assist where we can, but it requires you to be committed, to be disciplined and to be focused.

The struggles you face today are different to the ones the youth of 1976 faced. They braved the might of the Apartheid State to demand their rights as equal citizens of the country. In doing so, they heeded Moses Kotane’s call, who declared that:
“At this hour of destiny, your country and your people need you. The future of South Africa is in your hands and it will be what you make of it”.
These marching orders to the youth of our country echoed the famous declaration by the African patriot, Frantz Fanon when he declared in his much celebrated quote in that:
“Each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it, in relative opacity.”
Today it is no less true and even more important that you, the leaders of tomorrow, discover your true mission and also fulfil it. You dare not betray it in any way.  It would be a travesty of justice to the various generations to whom we owe our freedom and democracy, if we dare fail to fulfil our part of this historic mission to transform the lives of all our people. It is tribute to these many gallant fighters for our freedom that we pledge our unwavering commitment to youth development.
Die opofferings wat oor die jare heen gemaak is sederdien word gedoen ten bate van U wat hier vandag byeen gebring is. Die Departement van Maatskaplike Ontwikkeling en ons bondgenote wat ander Staats instellings en Departemente asook die privaatsektor insluit het hierdie week se verrigtinge gereel ten bate van julle. Dit is vir julle om maksimum nut uit te neem van dit. U sal saam met my stem- en dit sal onwaar wees as u nie- dat hierdie Regering alles in ons mag doen om jongmense aan te moedig en te bemagtig.
Met die inhuldiging van ons Premier, Dr Zamani Saul het hy ‘n duidelike visie vir die Provinsie neergele wat ons nastreef. Hierdie visie is een van ‘n Moderne, Groeiende en Suksesvolle Provinsie. Yes young people by now you have heard of the vision for the Province- a Modern, Growing and Successful Province.
And in this vision the concerns and opportunities of young people take centre stage. We have soon after the Premier had been inaugurated embarked on a door to door drive to seek out young people- those out of school, unemployed and not studying- to encourage them to take up the magnitude of opportunities available to them in improving their lives and those around them.
Some of you gathered here are the products of our annual youth camps that we run. Youth camps present an environment where young people are moulded, guided and skilled to enhance their sense of responsibility and maximise their individual and collective energies for personal development as well as development of the broader society. Through the Youth Camp programme, young people are given a platform to conduct dialogues on topical issues that affect them and their communities, with a view of identifying root causes and developing strategic solutions to address them.
The saying of “we are not here for a long time, we are here for a good time” that many of you subscribe to is one that only brings despair and destruction. The only way to that better future is education. And more education. And off course the will to succeed.  
We know that the challenge of youth employment needs urgent attention. The development of skills relevant to market demands is a crucial way in which we can address this. And today is another intervention and platform provided to you as young people to become what they are intended to be- the leaders and builders of our tomorrow. It is so true that we cannot always build a future for our young people, but we can build strong, independent and progressive young people for the future.
Young people are at the heart of today’s strategic developments and challenges- from rebuilding our economy to combatting violence, addressing inequality and promoting good. And I want you to seriously take up the challenge. This is a partnership in which we provide you with the opportunities and guidance and your part of the partnership is to own it and inspire your peers to follow the path of good.
Ek het gese aan die begin dat ons met baie jongmense in Mier gepraat het en julle het aangedui watter help julle nodig het om ekonomies aktief te raak om vir julleself te kan sorg. Ons het ingestem om die volgende onmiddellik te doen en die ander behoeftes te voldoen soos ons begroting dit sal toelaat.
Vir nou gaan ons die volgende jongmense met die volgende vaardighede help:

  •  20 Learners licences in Rietfontein
  •  10 welding in Rietfontein
  •  15 Basic Computers in Upington
  •  20 New business ventures at Molopo Kalahari Lodge in Askam
  •  15 Security training at Molopo Kalahari Lodge in Askam, en
  •  10 Tour guides in Upington.

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These are the deliverables we can do now and the others that are within our mandate we will do as I said if budget allows.
We have received and noted the resolutions of the deliberations and we will seriously look at how we can accommodate and facilitate these. What we can do we will, and what falls outside our mandate we will escalate to the relevant authorities. That is the firm commitment I can make now.  
In concluding I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Department who facilitated this session and also our partners-who spend the week with you. Our most profound appreciation to you, the young leaders of tomorrow for the discipline and deification displayed in all these activities.  
I want to leave you with this bit of sound advice from the pragmatic American Civil Rights Activist and world Icon, the Reverent Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr when he proclaimed that “One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”
My dear young people, stay woke, be the change and let us all work toward building that Modern, Growing and Successful life and Province.
Thank you and God bless.

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