South African youth have particularly difficult lives. There are too many unemployed youth and too few jobs. To many are under-educated and under-skilled. Even those who are well educated are not guaranteed work, not in the skills areas for which they are educated and trained nor even for other areas. Generally government acknowledges an unemployment rate of about 25.2% in the first quarter of 2013, this according to Stats SA. Also acknowledged is that unemployment of the youth is in the region of 50% (double the national average). While this sort of relationship is not unique to South Africa, the overall high rates probably are.
Not acknowledged are the many unemployed who have simply given up looking for employment and thus are under the radar and are not counted. The Direct Democracy Forum (the DDF) take the pessimistic view that unemployment nation-wide is closer to double those figures and that level is the real target for employment initiatives, that we need to find gainful employment for up to 50% of our population between 15 and 65 years old and about 75% of the population between 15 and 25 years old. The high levels of unemployment amongst the youth have significant impact on crime levels, disintegration of societal and family mores and values and this has a cascading effect on the youth of tomorrow, with the disadvantaged leading the ever more disadvantaged into dysfunction, where, often, the only support system available comes from those who are already dysfunctional and whose only ‘family’ are gangs who are involved in anti-social and illegal activities. These are not good role models for the future.
Whether you take a optimistic or pessimistic view of unemployment, it is clear that SA has a massive unemployment problem that cannot simply be addressed by social welfare grants such as but not limited to the proposed youth wage subsidy. In any event the proposed wage subsidy is not universally welcome in South Africa, see Wage Subsidy Critique and there is a large body of debate which argues that the costs of wage subsidies are often wasted as they are often spent on jobs which would exist even without a subsidy and their effect on the labour market is to distort rather than improve employment patterns.
The Direct Democracy Forum argue that while wage subsidies may benefit a net few additional employees many more would benefit from the same level of investment in education and training and skills acquisition, accompanied by concerted effort at job creation, to employ those additionally available skills. That is, investment in value-given for value-received education and value given for value received employment and in the development of jobs and of small to medium enterprises, will all benefit the unemployed and unskilled workforce far more than any number of social welfare hand-outs and make-jobs employment initiatives. The DDF believe this is best achieved from coordinated application of policies intended to accomplish these goals.
The problem is not just one of employment but is also of standards that are recognised and relied on by employers and employees alike. The DDF intend strengthening existing qualifications and certification of skills and knowledge acquisition through applying meaningful national standards for all school certificates, artisan skills and college diplomas and integrating them in a hierarchy of certification, so those with the interest and intent can advance to the highest level of achievement they are capable of and have those achievements recognised in the market-place.
Central to this will be the development of apprenticeships, mentorships and on-the-job training opportunities where the experience of workers approaching the end of their professional careers are brought together with new-entrants in the job market, often in the form of co-operative ventures, so the new can learn from the old and the old can benefit from passing on their skills and experience.
DDF policies, including but not limited to;
are all policies intended to be co-ordinated and directed toward economic development and employment growth with particular attention to engaging the youth in the economy. This will benefit the unemployed generally, the youth in particular, the economy and the fiscus.
On a political level, the DDF would like to educate and train DDF youth members in the understanding of democracy and their rights and duties in a democratic society, in the understanding of their rights and duties under the constitution and how they can benefit from the proper application of democratic principles and processes. The DDF have no desire to disguise adults as youths nor to use the youth as a political football in the pursuit of DDF objectives. Rather we want to develop our youth into good democrats who will serve themselves, their families, society and the country well. The DDF wish to be proud of our youth and for our youth to be proud of the democracy of which they are a part. For that to happen, South Africans have to make democracy a meaningful institution and a meaningful experience in their country.
Police tend to go over the top in almost every country in the world, it could be argued, but that does not excuse the ethos of violence in the South African police services. Marikana, Vaalwater 2011, Mido Macia and let us not forget the 900 deaths in police custody between 2011 and 2012.
That we live in a violent society does not justify any of these acts of violence or statistics. In fact, because we live in a violent society our police need to be setting the example that violence is not a solution but can only be resorted to when all else fails and violence is the only option available to counter violence. This may seem to be glib but an ethos of non violence needs to be encouraged throughout our society across all cultures and at all levels and that the measure of a man, and even of a woman, is taken from how he or she treats his or her fellows. It should be a matter of pride that violence is not necessary to live a fulfilled and successful life. This culture of consideration and respect for others is already instilled in African Culture through the idea of Ubuntu. Just where has Ubuntu gone? And it certainly does not help when the people who are supposed to keep the peace resort to unnecessary violence.
Police violence can come down to the exercise of poor judgement in the field which in turn is probably underpinned by poor and inadequate training, poor and inadequate resourcing and poor and inadequate leadership. That is the bottom line. It is no good blaming the rookie in the field for getting it wrong when there is nothing there to support him getting it right. The whole structure and ethos of our policing needs to be overhauled, top-down and bottom-up. This the Direct Democracy Forum intend doing.
The buck stops at the ballot box.