Minister Mbombo's Address at the Cape Town Peace Conference
19 September 2014
Good morning to:
The Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Gert Oosthuizen,
Mr. Wilfried Lemke, United Nations’ Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace, Geneva,
Dimitris Kyriakides Goodwill Ambassador of the City of Marathon, Greece ,
Alderman Ian Neilson Executive Deputy Mayor, City of Cape Town
Wilson Kipketer, Olympian and Peace and Sport Board Member and Champion for Peace, Monaco
Marlin Cozett, Lieutenant Commander ( Lt Cdr) M.W Cozett the Senior Staffing Officer Physical Training Sport and Recreation in the South African Navy.
To our programme directors, Professor Marion Keim and Elana Meyer,
Representatives from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and the City of Cape Town,
And various partners of this conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen much has been said and written about the youth of South Africa and what needs to be done to improve their lives and set them on an upward trajectory.
It is no doubt, this is a result of the understanding that an investment in young people is an investment into the country and its future.
Reports like the one released by the Statistician General earlier this week on ‘Youth employment, unemployment skills and economic growth’ serve as a gauge telling us how far we have come and what more still needs to be done.
Unfortunately, the findings of this report paint a very dire picture of young people in South Africa.
Reasons cited for the massive skills shortage amongst young people in South Africa include:
The apartheid legacy, the closure of teacher and nursing training colleges, weak administration in education (such as the non-delivery of textbooks), ineffective teaching, and the role of parents in the education of their children.
The economic situation of young people in South Africa has a direct link to social ills such as violent communities, crime and substance abuse.
If young people are not given a platform to be part of something bigger than themselves, the devil does make use of idle hands.
To speak quite frankly, if we have a situation where youth unemployment is at 36.1 percent, with jobless youth making up 75 percent of the country’s unemployed, we have a multi-pronged problem on our hands.
We run the economic risk of having an inactive potential workforce that is unskilled.
We run the risk of having jobseekers who have given up on looking for work.
We run the risk of over-burdening our social-welfare system where millions of South Africans depend on the state to provide for them.
The number of people receiving a social grant from the state grew from 12.7% in 2003 to 30.2% in 2013, while the number of households receiving at least one social grant increased from 29.9% to 45.5% over the same period, according to Statistics South Africa's latest General Household Survey.
South Africa's social assistance system is one of the largest in Africa. It is estimated that almost a third of South Africans are beneficiaries of social grants.
This puts massive strain on the fiscus. According to the Treasury's National Budget Review for 2013/14, spending on social grants accounts for 3% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and is projected to rise from R118-billion in 2013/14 to R145-billion by 2016.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the point I am making is that narrow-casting our efforts of development towards the youth will go a long way to fixing many of our challenges.
Let’s trace back our steps:
If we invest in a solid education system that effectively opens doors for young people, we will be on the right track.
If we invest in a wide range of higher education facilities and options, we can begin to fix our skills shortage problem.
If we create an environment that is conducive to economic growth- we can start creating more work opportunities for South Africans of all ages.
If we keep our young people occupied, part of the right kind of ‘gangs’, we will start to see a direct decrease in crime in our local communities.
Colleagues, the Western Cape Government is an advocate of this model of development.
Coached on the premise that government cannot build South Africa single-handedly, we are firm believers of the whole-society approach.
We continue to work with the private sector, the religious fraternity, parents, schools and other community leaders in order to fight social ills through the model I have illustrated.
Specifically, my department- the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, worksd very closely with Community Safety, Education, Health and Social Development in coming up with intergovernmental initiatives that help us achieve our goals.
While none of these are silver bullets- we have seen the results.
Our game plan is simple, we plan to:
• Create opportunities for growth and jobs
• Improve education outcomes and opportunities for youth development
• Increase wellness, safety and tackle social ills
• Enable a resilient, sustainable, quality and inclusive living environment
The work that my department does speaks directly to youth development, creating safe communities and in effect tackling social ills.
We have started to do this through the implementation of the Mass Opportunity Development centres at our local schools.
This is an afterschool programme that was conceptualized by the Department of Sport and Recreation in order to create a safe space for learners to go to after formal school hours.
Here they are provided with qualified coaches who teach them in the sport codes of their choice.
This programme aims to develop young people in the field of sport, developing sport in our country as a whole.
It also serves as a platform for young people to excel in the different sport codes in order to progress to the next level.
The deal is made sweeter by the fact that scouts from different federations are able to search for talent at local clubs which are fed by our MOD centers.
In the Western Cape we have expanded the reach of the programme to having 181 MOD centres. We endeavor to bring Social Development’s meal provision system toat all our MOD centres.
We have recently launched a parallel, educational model to the MOD centres where volunteers who are top matric and university students are able to tutor learners to improve education outcomes.
This is called the Year Beyond Programme because it not only provides the learners at the MOD centres with a qualified tutor- it also opens doors for students who have passed matric or are in tertiary institutions.
We strive to reach even the most rural and remote areas in the Western Cape with these initiatives.
We are going into communities which have been wrecked by violence and gangsterism- cleaning up the streets, providing a safe and productive space for young people.
We have MOD centres in some of our high-risk areas like Manenberg, Mitchell’s Plein, eNyanga and Delft.
The only way we can begin build peaceful societies is through occupying our youth with useful and educational activities.
Sport remains the most engaging of these initiatives ad that is why we prioritize it when we speak of youth development and creating a safer, healthier South Africa.