|Viewpoint by Magasela Mzobe
ANC Manifesto: What is in it for young people?
As a point of departure, all positive thinking people, on basis of evidence, can summarise the past 20 years of the ANC in government as a good story to tell, with enormous progress made. While the ANC has made enormous progress over the past 20 years, it acknowledges that the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality still persist.
It is now a common cause that:
- Statistics South Africa on 3rd April 2014 released a report which indicates that between 2006 "“ 2011, the number of South Africans living in poverty has reduced by 4 million.
- Social grants, between 2006 and 2011 rose by 46%, especially the child support grant. In 2002, 13.4-million people fell within the self-declared hunger bracket, while in 2011 - 6.6-million people were in the same bracket.
- When the global crisis took place, 1 million jobs across all sectors in the economy were lost. Those jobs have been recovered due to the 1 trillion infrastructure roll out.
- Since 1995, 1.7 million new jobs for youth.
- Currently 6.1 million youth in jobs out of 15 million people at work
- Between April 2009 and September 2013, Expanded Public Works Programme created 3.7 million work opportunities.
- R2.7 billion for loans and grants for young entrepreneurs through the NYDA, IDC and SEFA.
- National Rural Youth Service Corps from the present enlist 14,000 to 50,000 in the next five years.
- National Students Financial Scheme increased from R3.1 billion in 2009 to the current R9.6 billion, non-payment by poor students on FET sector, no fee schools more than 80%, social assistance is now reaching 16 million South Africans to alleviate poverty and unemployment.
ANC Manifesto promises stronger State intervention capacity on the economy
ANC has committed itself, for the next five years, on the overarching trajectory of building state capacity to lead radical transformation of economy through massive industrialisation and infrastructure development, which will ensure sustainable and distributive growth anchored by sustainable job creation.
Various mechanisms of training and empowering youth in and outside the workplace provide a solid basis for each and every young person to possess one or another form of skill. Research has proven that with better skilled people there are better chances of employment.
We must be particular pleased as young people in that every working space will be training space, including the State and its entities.
The announced massive infrastructure program, local beneficiation and new technologies provides a firm commitment that the State will strive for 70% local content.
This is a very important step as it sets massive job and business opportunities for young people in productive sectors. We must welcome that public servants and public representatives will be prohibited from doing business with the state.
Quality education for the youth
There is no doubt that in 2014 education of young people has to be fashionable and anchored on economic freedom in our life time. Therefore the unflinching commitment by the ANC to progressively introduce free education in all levels is critical.
From the 2013 academic year results, not only Matric but all grades, it is clear now that our basic education system has stabilized and is on the upward trend in providing pupils a solid start in life.
While there is commitment to improve quality of education with announced intervention, the provision and access to education warrants an investment on infrastructure. Hence ANC's Manifesto commitment of building 1,000 new schools to expand access to education and respond to the challenges of rural schooling and urban population growth.
Acknowledging the need for highly trained teachers, teacher colleges linked to universities will be re "opened and in "service teacher training intensified.
Young women must also take up opportunities, such as school feeding schemes, which are mooted to be the terrain of Women Local Cooperatives for supplying schools with food, such as vegetables. They should do so not only to secure income but to affirm the overall call of making education a societal matter and for all persons in the locality to participate in the functioning of the school.
The introduction of two (02) years of compulsory pre "school education and strive for fuller integration of Grade R educators, will go a long way in developing solid foundation for all children, regardless of class or race so that early childhood development is not a landscape of only privileged children. If indeed it is on our imprints that history is written, we must advance and promote the teaching of South African history and our national anthem in schools, and install South African flags in all public schools.
With the misnomer on South Africa's post schooling dispensation on huge numbers in tertiary education against FET, emphasis on increasing quality over quantity. Further Education and Training is good and commitments from the ANC's Manifesto is that FET institutions will enrol more than one million students in in 2014 and enrol an additional 500,000 students in the next five years, will work towards resolving this misnomer. In addition, twelve (12) new campuses for FET colleges will be completed in 2014.
Students from FET colleges and universities of technology will be placed in workplaces to gain practical work experience. Opportunities for workplace "based training and experience will be created through greater partnership between the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA's), workplaces, and education and training institutions. Every workplace must be a training space including that of government and its business entities.
Young people will take active participation in ensuring food security and in that regard Agricultural College education will be strengthened through Skills Development Fund.
The ANC remains committed to progressively introducing free-education as it is currently ensuring that no academically deserving student is denied to study and that NSFAS allocations continue to increase. In the next term of government, the building of two new universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape will be completed and a third dedicated Health Sciences University will be built.
With the demand for doctors always on the rise, the number of doctors trained locally and abroad, an average of 2,000 doctors a year, is not sufficient. The building of a university dedicated to Health Sciences will go a long way towards ensuring that our society's medical emergency and overall health needs are met.
As young people, we have to continue voting for the ANC, as it is the only political party that has been thorough on how it envisages improving the quality of life of each young person.
Moreover, an additional 50,000 student accommodation residences will be provided through partnerships with the private sector and direct state initiatives.
On empowering youth
On general empowerment of young people, the ANC Manifesto is bold and assertive.
Public Works schemes will introduce to work atleast four million young people. Our ANC has committed its 2014 "“ 2019 government to massively expand public works programmes to create six million work opportunities, many of which will be for long duration, with 80% of new participants being unemployed youth. Greater attention will be paid to skills development and subsequent employment.
60% of jobs on new infrastructure projects will be set aside for young people.
On rural development: the ANC government will deliberately increase the number of youth participants in the National Rural Youth Service Corps from the present 14,000 to 50,000 in the next five years.
Public agencies responsible for co "operatives and small enterprise development will be required to develop special programmes targeting youth co "operatives and youth enterprises.
While discussion rages on, we must, as a matter of principle, express that initiatives to encourage even private sector to create jobs must be supported.
As youth, we should welcome employment incentive schemes for as long as the schemes does not displace unsubsidised workers.
This is necessary in order to avoid a multi "tiered labour market within the same sector in respect of wage categories.
While social security is often associated with young children and the elderly, there exist a category of young people whom are extremely vulnerable. Therefore we must be interested in urgent finalisation of policy discussions on proposals for a comprehensive social protection policy that ensures that no needy South African falls through the social security net.
While there are small enterprises of young people and co-operatives in existence, the major stumbling block has always been access to markets. Therefore we must affirm the progressive implementation of the target of buying 70% of goods and services from South African producers as this will go a longway in opening markets even for young people.
The State and its entities' procurement will be deliberately transformative and various incentives will be introduced to induce financing of industrialisation and investment on productive sectors.
Consistent with the essence of the ANC Youth League position, the ANC Manifesto affirms that strategic minerals will be identified with active measures taken to ensure security of supply of these minerals to achieve national objectives such as industrialisation and local beneficiation. With State owned mining company working on being strengthened to capture share of the market.
Infrastructural investment will drive industrialisation, value addition and manufacturing further unlocking the vast mineral wealth of the country and support real industrialisation that attends to apartheid spatial distortions that diversify and compliment mineral belt and almost ensuring local beneficiation and participation of all nine provinces.
Macro-economic policy will back accelerated growth and long-term economic stability, creating basis for faster industrial development and job creation.
A trend is observed that, as young people strive for best in their lives; they are tricked and lured in living far beyond their means and take excessive credit that they cannot afford.
The ANC Manifesto says that measures will be taken in curbing reckless lending, implement measures to reduce high bank fees and charges and encourage commercials banks and also Direct Foreign Investments to support investment in productive economy.
Provision of Energy
The effects of climate change and some major opportunities that it presents for young people are pronounced in the energy sector with assurance that provision and security of energy will be complimented with combinations of grids anchored on green energy as to ensure our sustainable future, today.
Young people stand to benefit most on government programmes aimed at averting the challenges of global warming and climate change.
Expansion and use of ICT
It is very clear from the ANC Manifesto that going forward, ICT is going to play a major influence in connection and provision of services with 90% of communities having access to broadband by 2020 and work towards reducing communications costs, thus reducing the cost of doing business.
The construction of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project by 2016will lead to investment in high "tech engineering and ICT infrastructure will provide a world of opportunities to develop skills in science and technology for young people. Hence, the setting aside of 1.5% of GDP for research is appropriate. As this investment on innovation and research capabilities will benefit mostly, young people.
Provision of water
The ANC must be highly commended in that in the 20 years of governing it has provided access to clean water to more than 95% of population and remains committed to universal access to water which in the process empower, educate and employ young people.
Young people are very involved and active in many strides of political participation and ANC government's investment as stated in the cultural and creative industries, particularly in film, music, arts and craft, books and publishing is very pleasing.
Equality and decency in the workplace
As young people, we must welcome the investigation in the modality for the introduction of a national minimum wage as young people are the most vulnerable and exploited.
We should appreciate the strengthening of the enforcement of provisions of the Employment Equity Act that require all employers to report on disproportionate income differentials at all wage levels to unsure, in our regard, equal pay for work of equal value.
Taking steps to ensure that collective bargaining takes place in all sectors of the economy will go a long way in protecting our vulnerable youth particularly in sectors such as retail, farm workers, security, services sector, salons, and domestic workers etc.
Considering that majority of young people continue to be found in rural areas, investing more in rural development through Comprehensive Rural Development Programme, which focuses primarily on the provision of social and economic rural infrastructure, remains strategic.
The support for co "operatives in marketing and supply activities to enables small scale producers to enter formal value chains and take advantage of economies of larger scale.
Young people have been particular frustrated by the pace of land reform, re "opening the period for the lodgement of claims for restitution of land for a period of five years, commencing in 2014 is a proper commitment, coupled with the acceleration of the settlement of remaining land claims submitted before the cut "off date of 1998 must not only be done but also be seen to done.
The provision of one million housing opportunities for qualifying households in urban and rural settlements over the next five years will be of major benefit to many young people and restore their dignity.
With young people entering the workplace, affordability and approvals of various loans, including bonds, by commercial banks will always be a huge problem, hence it must be supported to increase supply of affordable housing, including mobilisation of housing allowances for teachers, nurses, police officers, office workers and many others in the gap market.
An additional 1.6 million home connections to the electricity grid, over the next five years, will bring huge relief to many of young people and their families.
Health and Social Security
We must be firm in supporting an introduction of the National Health Insurance (NHI) as it will address universal provision of quality healthcare; social solidarity through cross "subsidisation; and equity. This will deliver free quality health care at the point of service.
With the private healthcare fast becoming unaffordable for young people at lower income levels, the commitment to reform private healthcare and its acceleration to significantly bring down the cost of private health care will be indirectly necessitated by the NHI.
Bold steps in the ANC Manifesto are pronounced and there is a commitment to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines and other goods needed in hospitals for patient care. Hospital CEO's will be empowered to order directly from suppliers, this will go a longway in creating state capacity to attain the needed medical supply on-time, improved affordable provision of quality service, while curbing potential corrupt practices.
Further insourcing of essential support services such as catering, cleaning, laundry and security over the next five years, is consistent with above commitment to empower the state to do it internally than outsourced so that it can be affordable.
With South Africa turning the tide on the fight against HIV and AIDS, endeavours of the ANC government must be supported to ensuring that the number of people on antiretroviral will be doubled from the present 2.4 million to 4.6 million by 2016.
This will increase four "fold, to four million, we must unsure as young people that we decrease the number of those infected and support those already infected by among other things ensuring that these drugs do not end being smoked in our villages and townships.
All structures of young people must partner in action with the ANC government in introducing measures to reduce unwanted pregnancies with a special focus on teenage pregnancies, promotion of healthy lifestyles to reduce risk factors associated with non "communicable diseases, such as smoking, harmful use of alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise, specifically among young people.
The ANC Manifesto represents a bold step forward in assuring young people that it is their insurance of the future.
No other political party has profound and bold policy proposals than the ANC.
The ANC with experience of over 20 years, makes realistic action plan that, as a Party in government, it will be able to implement over the next five years. The ANC did not come up with an unrealistic wish list.
It is only the ANC that can stand boldly and say it is proud of its past and confident of the future.
Let us move together as young people and in unison vote the ANC once more on Wednesday, 07 May 2014.
It is only through voting the ANC that we can be assured of a peaceful and economically sound South Africa, wherein young people are benefiting in the State led interventions into the economy.
(Magasela Mzobe is the National Coordinator of the ANC Youth League National Task Team.)