Youth subsidy – Bringing education into the picture

The debate on youth subsidy has gathered pace. The arguments for a youth subsidy consist of two major arguments.
First, the high rates of unemployment amongst youth are exceedingly worrying. As shown in a previous chart on Zapreneur. The key features of the unemployment data by age, show that:
The key features of the data include that:

  • The biggest proportion of unemployed are concentrated in the age groups 15-24 years (29.5%) and 25-34 years (42.8%).
  • Unemployment for those 34 years old and younger accounts for 72,3% of unemployed South Africans.

Youth unemployment thus is a serious challenge, and perhaps the defining challenge that we face.

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Discipline Malema, Just do not think redistributive pressures will be disciplined

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL)responded late last night to the charges being laid against its President, Julius Sello Malema, and a member of its National Executive Committee, Floyd Shivambu. Over the weekend, the ANCYL President shored up support within the youth league  at a special meeting of its national executive committee, which dutifully provided support to it’s President, and indicated that a “political issues” needed to be discussed with the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC). In an indication of the proposed mobilisation strategy to support the President, the ANCYL concluded its statement with the following:
The Special NEC re-affirmed the determination to fight tirelessly
and fearlessly for economic freedom in our lifetime, particularly
nationalisation of Mines, expropriation without compensation and provision
of free quality education for all.
The strategic intent, from within Malema’s camp,  is clearly to recast the disciplinary process, as trying to silence the radical programme of economic transformation being proposed by the ANCYL. Those opposed to Malema, are suggesting that brute strength will subdue an increasingly visible and vociferous Malema. It will be an intriguing political contest, and unfortunately will have implications for how the agenda on tackling inequality will shape up. There are three major reasons why the process and outcome of the disciplinary hearing will have on  matters  the public policy agenda on inequality and redistribution.

First, as argued by Sipho Hlongwane, it is important for our society to keep the eye on the allegations of corruption against Malema. The evidence in the media is at best circumstantial, however even at this early stage there remains a case to answer to. There is a case building against the business practices of Malema, and it requires significant focus. Ultimately, there needs to be a process for Malema to face whatever charges he may face, which is fair to him, and will offer the South African public with an exact picture of the business dealings of an important leader in our society. Importantly, as reported by the City Press, the Hawks have confirmed a probe into the business dealings of Julius Malema.
The point is that Malema is being presented the poster child for the term “tenderpreneur”, and as such the investigation has huge symbolic significance . The outcome of  any investigation will provide an insight into corruption in government, but will also provide South Africans with enough evidence to judge whether Malema is simply a crook, or whether his radical stances has made him a target.
Second, the theater of a trial provides Malema with exactly the platform he needs.  It is a skill he demonstrated in shoring up support for President Jacob Zuma, in the trials he faced before becoming South Africa’s president . Jane Duncan, writing in SACSIS,  interprets this skill at mobilisation as being ideologically expedient. She writes that:

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Nationalise! Expropriate! The Pillars for Economic Transformation according to the ANCYL

As the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) starts its 24th National Congress, the focus will be on the elections, especially since everyone in South Africa has a view on Julius  Malema. The policy debates will be reduced to the background, but potentially have a bigger impact on public policy in South Africa, than the outcome of elections. This article summarises the discussion document titled A clarion call to economic freedom fighters: Programme of action for economic freedom in our lifetime.This article seeks to understand the argument, an important first step to debating the issues at a later stage. The proposals focused on youth are contained in a separate document.The discussion document can be downloaded at the ANCYL website.

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A "politically immature" note on non-racialism and inequality

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation hosted a public symposium on the prospects of non-racialism in South Africa. It provided a demanding set of inputs, and left this “politically immature” writer, with the sense that an important discussion on race in South Africa is starting. Here are some initial  thoughts on an issue I need to spend more time engaging with.

Critical conversations from the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

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The silent majority did not vote! Comparing population estimates with the voter roll

Over 15 million potentially eligible voters did not cast their vote in the recent local government elections. This analysis compares the mid-year population estimates with the voters role.
A development worker in Cape Town pointed out that there was a significant gap between the potential number of voters, and those on the voter’s role. It piqued my interest, and I asked a couple more community activists about this. They all confirmed the view that in their areas, the level of voter registration was low. Could this view from the ground be correct? The proposition is that they may exist – in the words of one of the community workers – “an excluded majority” not even on the voters roll. To explore this question, we have compared the voters roll with population estimates.
In sum, this exploration seeks to find out what proportion of the population are on the voter’s roll. In undertaking this analysis, only official data has been utilised. These are:

  • Indepedent Electoral Commission (IEC) reports on voter turnout by province were generated using the IEC’s report generator;
  • Statistics South Africa’s Mid-Year Population Estimates (2010). The cut-off point in the data is at 20, which means that potential voters between 18 and 20 are not counted in these results. Including 18-20 year olds in the analysis would potentially increase the size of the so-called “silent majority”.

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Youth unemployment as a poverty trap

This presentation provides a conceptual argument that high levels of youth unemployment are a manifestation of a deeper poverty trap in South Africa. Argues that the expansion of social security, community works and building assets are potentially viable responses that must be included in a discussion on youth unemployment. Importantly, there are young unemployed people who simply lack information, or are holding out for a better paying job. However, the majority of young unemployed South Africans have little or no prospect of finding work. Providing regular income and work to these unemployed young people requires that as a society we create mechanisms for economic inclusion.


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Making Local Government Work for the People: South Africa Far Behind International Trendsetters

[boxleft] This article first appeared on SACSIS

The “toilet wars” have made apparent the ridiculousness of the major political parties in South Africa. The Democratic Alliance (DA) even allowed a legal process to work its way up to the Constitutional Court to defend its decision to build unenclosed toilets. On the other hand, the African National Congress (ANC) was quick to wail “mea culpa” when it was found that one of its municipalities had also built unenclosed toilets. The difference in how both parties responded to the public outcry is important and hides a deeper truth.
Some politician sitting somewhere in an office, who probably never visited the site, facilitated the decision making process. In his or her insulated discussion, they would have justified the decision to build open toilets by arguing that more toilets could be built within the budget, or that an open flush toilet is more sustainable than a pit latrine in the long-term.
The alternative explanation is that local councils, even large metropolitan councils, lack the ability to carefully evaluate project plans and approve projects with an accurate understanding of the details of each project.  It leads to a situation where municipal governments are genuinely surprised to find out that projects are completed “to spec” and that the specification does not specify the building of walls around a toilet. Sadly, any student of “development” will recognise this as another tale of significant silliness by bureaucrats and politicians. It leaves us all with that incredulous feeling asking “What where they thinking?” or responding with acronyms such as “WTF!”

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Is Cape Town or Johannesburg the best metropolitan government in South Africa?

Political parties have been arguing that the city they govern is the best run in South Africa. A cold hard look at available data shows that there is not much difference between Johannesburg and Cape Town, who occupy the first or second spot in most indices. There is thus no definitive answer to the question, as to which metropolitan municipal government is the best, however voters should be circumspect in assessing the claims of political parties. The argument that Cape Town is exceptional however does not have a solid backing from the data reviewed.

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