Deputy President Paul Mashatile Supports President-Elect Ramaphosa’s Vision for South African Youth Empowerment

by Selinda Phenyo
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Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Paul Mashatile. Picture: Phando Jikelo/Independent Newspapers

Paul Mashatile

Polokwane, Limpopo – Deputy President Paul Mashatile has extended his unequivocal support to President-elect Cyril Ramaphosa. Expressing confidence in Ramaphosa’s leadership within the government of national unity, Mashatile assured that South Africa would persist in tackling the significant challenges confronting its youth.

Addressing Youth Unemployment and Skills Development

Speaking at the 48th anniversary of Youth Day at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium, Mashatile reiterated a commitment to job creation and fostering an inclusive economy over the next five years. “We will focus on creating jobs and building an inclusive and growing economy. We will equally focus on implementing programmes that equip the youth with future-facing skills,” he stated.

Youth Day commemorates the sacrifices made by South Africa’s youth in the quest for democracy, notably the Soweto Uprising of 16 June 1976. Emphasising the crucial role of young people in the nation’s future, Mashatile insisted, “Our young people must have work opportunities.”

A Testament to Democracy

Reflecting on the recent General Elections, Mashatile highlighted how the process underscores South Africa’s dedication to democratic values through free and fair elections. Addressing the audience, he remarked, “Through your votes, you have sent a clear message. You want us to set aside our differences and unite to build our country.”

Mashatile acknowledged the youth’s critical role, noting that they constitute over two-thirds of the population. He emphasised that advancing without youth involvement was untenable: “We cannot move forward without them, without the youth of our country.”

National Development Plan (NDP) and Youth Inclusion

The Deputy President cited the National Development Plan (NDP), which centralises youth in national development. He underscored the importance of youth participation to meet the country’s growth targets.

Mashatile highlighted several challenges facing the youth, such as poverty, social inequality, mental health issues, and high unemployment levels.

Efficiency in Education Funding: Addressing NSFAS Issues

Mashatile acknowledged the challenges within the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and reassured the youth of effective administration. “NSFAS remains a vital vehicle supporting students from poor and working-class families,” he noted, stating that over 70% of university and more than 90% of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students benefit from it.

Collaborative Efforts for Youth Empowerment

Mashatile called for a synergy between the private sector, government, and civil society to solve these challenges. He emphasised that providing better access to quality education and employment opportunities, particularly for rural youth, is crucial.

Despite financial constraints, the State continues to invest significantly in youth development, having allocated more than R31.8 billion to basic education in 2023 and R130.1 billion for post-secondary education training in 2022.

Government Programmes for Youth Involvement

The Deputy President highlighted government initiatives like the National Youth Development Agency and Enterprise Development Programme aimed at fostering youth participation in the economy. “We want to see more young people actively involved in the economy and participating in decisions that affect their lives,” he stated.

Mashatile stressed that the current administration prioritises youth needs, in stark contrast to the government of 1976. Formal education, internships, and youth entrepreneurship through the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention are part of the comprehensive approach to reducing youth unemployment.

Tribute to the Heroes of 1976

Mashatile paid homage to the youth who fought for liberation, urging today’s young people to adopt the same tenacity. “As we face economic challenges, we urge the youth to emulate heroes like Hector Peterson and Tsietsi Mashinini, whose sacrifices paved the way for our political freedom.”

Newly elected Limpopo Premier, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, encouraged the youth to seize every opportunity and address social ills. She advocated for innovative approaches like technology integration and equal access to quality education to overcome the current system’s limitations and ensure a brighter future for South Africa.

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa Advocates for Government of National Unity to Address Pressing Issues
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa Advocates for Government of National Unity to Address Pressing Issues

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