Youth Subsidy Heats Chamber
There was a sometimes-heated debate about the government’s proposal of a youth wage subsidy in the National Council of Provinces chambers on Friday, as Members of Parliament zoomed in on this year’s Youth Day, June 16.
Referring to the DA march last month on the Cosatu headquarters in Johannesburg, the Minister of Public Works, Mr Thulas Nxesi, warned against South Africans being led down the road of confrontation. The march was marred by violence between supporters of the labour federation, Cosatu, opposing the subsidy, and DA supporters of a youth wage subsidy.
Mr Nxesi said the violence reminded him of black-on-black violence during days of apartheid. “What do you expect? Do not open the wounds of the past. The reconstruction of our country is very sensitive.”
He said youth employment affected everyone and the youth wage subsidy was getting the necessary attention at Nedlac.
Western Cape Premier, Ms Helen Zille called for the implementation of the youth wage subsidy without delay. She said this would “create the first opportunity for employment that the youth of today need. Today we hear echoes of the struggle of the 1976 class, our youth are crying out for an opportunity, just as the youth of 1976 did.”
Decision makers were again trying to do something for the youth rather than something with the youth, she said.
The debate was so robust that at times Ms Thandi Memela, Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, had to intervene and ask MPs to behave or leave the chambers.
Earlier in the debate, which was attended by young people, Mr Nxesi referred to the jobs created for young people through the government’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). Between 2009 and 2012 about 900 000 work opportunities were created through the EPWP. This included jobs in the built environment, bricklaying and painting. Mr Nxesi said that everyone needed to work together to transform the built environment. “It is nonsense that we can continue to work as we did under apartheid,” he added, “when even graduates are struggling to find jobs.”
Another debate on Youth Day will be held in the National Assembly on 14 June.
by Malatswa Malepo and Rajaa Azakani