YOUTH VOICES MATTER

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By Mashudu Mzimba

  • South Africa is gearing up for its May 29, 2024 elections, prompting youth in Imbali Township, Pietermaritzburg, to convene and address concerns within the democratic framework, seeking avenues for positive change and contributing to the nation’s future.
  • The youth dialogue session, facilitated by Umzansi Youth in Business, a non-profit supported by the Department of Social Development, featured key stakeholders like the Department of Social Development, SASSA, and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government.
  • Aligned with the African Union Aspiration 6 Agenda 2063, youth engagement centred on sharing experiences and confronting challenges, from educational aspirations hindered by financial constraints to the pressing realities of unemployment, limited opportunities, and social adversities.

South Africa will hold its elections on 29th May 2024. Young people in Imbali Township, Pietermaritzburg, assembled to express their concerns within the framework of democracy and explore potential solutions to foster positive change and contribute to the nation’s prosperous future.

The youth dialogue session led by Umzansi Youth in Business, an NPO funded by the Department of Social Development, pulled together several stakeholders to showcase government services to the youth. Some stakeholders included the Department of Social Development and its agency, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government.

The African Union Aspiration 6 Agenda 2063 emphasises the importance of African youth in shaping the future of the continent and recognises their vital role in the decision-making process.

Within this context, the youth were engaged to share their experiences and the current status quo on the issues affecting them.

Samukelisiwe Ngcobo (27), a delegate from Imbali, expressed her aspiration to study social work. However, she faced barriers to pursuing her dream due to a lack of financial assistance.

“I have a matric and security certificate but cannot find work, my dream is to study social work so that I can make a difference in my community and assist the government in addressing social ills in South Africa, especially here. 

A mother of two who is currently unemployed struggles to support her children and meet their needs. She emphasises that without the child support grant and the Social Relief of Distress grant amounting to R350, life would be extremely challenging for her and her family.

An ambitious Anele Mshengu (19), also from Imbali, stated that growing up in an area where there is a lack of opportunities for the youth, unemployment, lack of recreational facilities, substance abuse, and crime is discouraging.

“It is not yet Uhuru, we are growing up without good role models. We do not even have recreational facilities that we can use to stimulate our minds and play. It is disheartening to see people sitting at home with proper qualifications,” said Anele.

A second-year student also mentioned that she is an active member of her community and has undertaken the responsibility of assisting the youth by disseminating information about bursaries, employment prospects, and business opportunities.

Pictures by Precious Mupenzi

 

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