The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, at a youth rally in Khayelitsha, Cape Town this morning. Maimane was joined by National Spokesperson, Phumzile van Damme MP, Western Cape Deputy Provincial Leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela MPL, Interim DA Youth Leader, Yusuf Cassim MP and Constituency Head, Tandeka Gqada MP.
Today we are gathered here in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, in celebration of the diversity of young people and to picture the future we dream of for our beautiful country – a non-racial, vibrant, and prosperous South Africa.
Throughout history, young people have led. When afforded the opportunity, youth have the ability to soar to new heights. It is no different for South Africa. Our future is our youth, and our youth are our future. The road to achieving the dream of ’94 necessarily involves young people.
The older generation ought to be the shoulders on which young people stand. To go further, to achieve more, to create, invent, and ultimately lead in shaping the society we dreamed of in 1994.
While we must celebrate our youth, we simply cannot have a meaningful discussion about our country’s future and the future of young South Africans if we fail to acknowledge our chronic jobs crisis.
The dream of ’94 – of an equitable and prosperous society – can only be made possible by economic growth that creates millions of jobs and opportunities for South Africans that are left out.
But who is left out, and left behind? It’s young people. Our youth unemployment rate remains more than four times higher than the global average. Close on 6 million young people cannot enter the job market, cannot participate in our economy and cannot start to build a life for themselves.
So we can have the dreams, and we can have the aspirations. But without a growing economy and job opportunities, they will stay just that – dreams and aspirations, never being realised.
There are no jobs for young people. It is just that simple.
Despite this, where we govern, there you find the greatest hope of finding work. From Cape Town, to Midvaal, to the province of the Western Cape – the facts are clear. Unemployment is lower, more jobs are created, and the local economy thrives.
For example, since 2011, the City of Cape Town has created almost 160 000 EPWP work opportunities, with R555 million being in direct wages to EPWP workers. Where we govern, people are finding work.
Fellow South Africans, the biggest disgrace under Zuma’s presidency has not been the millions squandered at Nkandla.
It’s not the Gupta’s landing at Waterkloof airbase.
It’s not his allowing Omar Al-Bashir to escape.
It’s not his failure to comply with the Public Protector’s report.
It’s not his push to sign off on a trillion Rand nuclear deal.
It’s not the Gupta brothers offering cabinet posts.
It’s not even the crash of the Rand following Nenegate
The biggest disgrace is that under President Zuma’s presidency 2 million more South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed, and the hope of finding a job for the 8.9 million unemployed South Africans has all but evaporated.
Moreover, there has been a sheer lack of will and an inability to defeat our country’s unemployment crisis.
Yet, despite this, the ANC government finds it appropriate to announce that President Zuma will be handed a brand new luxury presidential jet – estimated to cost the public R4 billion. This despite the fact that the President’s current jet remains, in terms of aircraft standards, relatively new and fit for purpose.
Yes, four billion rand.
R 4 billion could pay for over 606 000 work opportunities for young South Africans.
R 4 billion could pay for supporting 80 000 new entrepreneurs with R 50 000 start-up grant each.
R 4 billion could pay for over 53 000 full NFSAS bursaries to cover fees, accommodation, transport and textbooks for young South Africans.
We unanimously reject this sheer waste of public funds in order to pay for the President’s “Nkandla Air” vanity project.
We therefore petition President Zuma, as the Head of State, to reverse the decision to procure a new Presidential Jet for his official travel. Given our current economic climate and our country’s record high unemployment crisis, South Africa cannot afford to spend R4 billion on a luxury jet for the President which he simply does not need.
We have today launched an online petition in this regard. I urge every single South African to sign this petition.
President Zuma ought to put the country’s needs ahead of his own wants, and reject this frivolous and disproportionate spending while our people continue to suffer and to live without hope.
South Africans want jobs, not jets, President Zuma. Our young people deserve better.
At the polls on 3 August, young South Africans have the opportunity to use their vote to hire a government that has been tried, tested and has delivered on its jobs promise.