Deepening Democracy through Access to Information
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Deepening Democracy through Access to Information
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NYDA: Sifiso Mtsweni: Address by executive chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency, at the occasion of the launch of Youth Month 2019, Hector Pieterson Memorial, Soweto

5th June 2019

It is at the height of apartheid struggle that Oom Moses Kotane called on the youth to play a meaningful role in the liberation struggle when he said, “At this hour of destiny your country needs you, it is in your hands it will be what you make of it”.

This clarion call became the war cry for many young people across our motherland. At the forefront was the radical and militant Tsietsi Mashinini, Kgotso Seatlholo and many others. June Month is a symbolic departure into the future and a painful memory that will forever be with us especially as we gather here at the Hector Pieterson Memorial Park.


Youth Month commemorations must be an important reminder on the sacrifices and commitment by the generation of 1976. It is such gallantry that gave birth to the revolutionary student movement, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) 40 years ago, with Ephraim Mogale as its founding President. It is this organisation that later awarded Mama Imbokodo Seaparankwe, Winnie Nomzamo-Madikizela Mandela the status of its lifetime Honorary President (May her soul rest in peace).

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) continues to preserve the history about the role young people played in the struggle for freedom and democracy. Having established the Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Scholarship Fund that has 500 beneficiaries to date, we remain relentless in ensuring that youth in martyrs of our freedom are not forgotten. The Head Office o the NYDA is known as Tsietsi Mashinini House. A place wherein aspirations and dreams of the youth are a key driver for the day to day  work in advancing youth development.


This year’s celebration of the 40th Commemoration of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu saw top achievers of the scholarship fund, taken on tour at the gallows to understand what Kalushi and many other young people endured for them reap the fruits of a tree nourished by the blood of these revolutionaries. Our partnership with the National Heritage Council (NHC) saw a home of late Kalushi declared a heritage site.

Programme Director, we have gathered to celebrate the start of commemorations of the Youth Month. This year we celebrate under the theme “25 Years of Democracy: A celebration of Youth Activism”. This explains the reason I started with a reflection on the importance of celebrating young people. It is an important theme looking at the outcome of the national general elections and the fact that a lot of young people are starting to make it into Parliament across varous political formations. History has been recorded in our era and we are proud to have been amongst the voices calling for more representation in decision-making structures and in positions of authority and responsibility.

We congratulate with jubilation that YOUTH focus is at the centre of government work. I take this time on behalf of millions of young people to send our gratitude and hope on the reconfigured cabinet seeing the establishment a Ministry of Employment and Labour to respond to lack of employment opportunities for youth.

South Africa like many countries in the world has a youth bulge. A phenomenon that presents both an opportunity and a great threat to our young democracy. Statistic South Africa (StatsSA) Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the First Quarter of 2019 painted a gloomy picture about the future. Young people remain the hardest hit by challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty. Of the 10.3 million person aged 15-24 years, 33% were not in employment, education or training (NEET).

Honourable Minister, the state of young people in South Africa has a direct and negative impact on our democracy. A high number of eligible young people did not practice their hard won right to cast their votes. Many analysts characterised this as youth voter apathy. Today affords us a chance to ask IF it is really voter apathy or the youth feel too vulnerable to trust anyone about their future. As an agency charged with the responsibility of youth development, we know that government having received a renewed mandate will place youth development at the epicentre of job creation and economic development.

The National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 proposes the strengthening of youth service programmes and the introduction of new, community-based initiatives to offer young people life skills training and entrepreneurship training. It is in this context that we are implementing that NYS program. It is a direct response to the lack of patriotism amongst young people through the National Youth Service Programme (NYSP).

As part of celebrating youth month, the 14th of June 2019 will be declared a National Youth Service Day.  On the day, NYDA will showcases programmes and work that has been undertaken by 13 National Youth Service Programmes of several department, namely Departments of Arts and Culture, Social Development, Human Settlement, Sports and Recreation, Transnet and various Municipalities. We will intensify this program to reach a million target by 2020. The youth will be encouraged to volunteer their skills, talents, services for free to organisation in their communities.

The programme will take various forms where Reading Clubs are established, selected homes fixed, flags reinstalled at government buildings, clearing rivers/swamps/ponds/open spaces, recording veterans who are the youth of 1976 and community/public parks are cleaned and upgraded using public art.

On Youth Day, 16 June 2019 the NYDA will be officially celebrate 10 years since establishment. During the announcement of its establishment at the 33rd Commemoration of June 16th, 1976 then President JG Zuma said that:

“Youth development is therefore a critical focus area for our government. We are therefore pleased to mark the 33rd National Youth Day, with the launch of the National Youth Development Agency, which will usher in a new era in youth development. We acknowledge the contribution of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund as well as the National Youth Commission, out of whose merger the Agency has been formed…This means that the Agency will work with various government departments that work in these areas, to improve the quality of life of your people” (Zuma, 2009)

The #NYDA10 celebrations will give a detailed account of the road travelled. We look at ushering a new era in youth development. We will look at the successes and failures on youth development issues. Our celebration will look at how far we have gone as far as the following is concerned:

Merger of the National Youth Commission (NYC) and Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF).

Signing of the Youth Employment Accord by business, government, labour, civil society and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to improve the equipping and placement of young people in jobs, and generally make the economy sensitive to the employment needs of young people. The aim of the accord was to realize the creation of 5 million jobs by the year 2020.

Establishment of the Presidential Working Group on Youth Presidential Youth Working Group (PYWG) to spearhead mainstreaming and integration of youth development into government policies, programmes and the national budget.

Adoption of the National Youth Policy (2015-2020) which aims to have youth development programmes in place that respond to the challenges faced by the youth of South Africa and enable young people to have agency and take charge of their future.

Success and Challenges of the NYDA (includes Integrated Youth Development Strategy, Removal of Experience)

Recent commitment at Jobs Summit and Investment Conference. 

Programme Director, NYP 2020 correctly characterizes the NYDA as a critical tool to advance youth development, but also says that the agency is not a panacea of all challenges faced by all young people. Even though this is true, we must say that since its establishment performed outstandingly. In the financial year under review.

The NYDA Board is proud to have met all its set targets by reaching 100% of its annual objectives.

Over 1103 Grants to youth-owned enterprises from a target of 840 grants thereby creating over 1000 brand new business owners in 12 months.

Our business development support services have supported 25 425 young people from an annual target of 18900. Thus, we have contributed over 5000 direct jobs and a further 5481 through placement in job opportunities.

In addition, the NYDA has embarked on a rigorous outreach programme that has seen us reach 1 882 243 young people who were provided with youth development information. We have embarked on 68 programs targeted at rural and township youth.

We have set ourselves an objective of ensuring that the NYDA reaches far and wide, to date in just 2018/2019 we have opened 17 new centers, in the month of June we are launching 6 new centers in the Eastern Cape, Kwa Zulu-Natal and Western Cape rural areas. We have always raised sharply the issue of the budget of the NYDA which is not enough, to date we have raised close to R100 million from partner organizations as well as Provincial and National Departments. As part of Youth Month, we will be launching in the following areas, George, Alfred Nzo, OR Tambo. 

EDITED BY: Creamer Media Reporter