SABC News - Ventersdorp youth seek better opportunities:Friday 16 June 2017

Ventersdorp youth seek better opportunities

Friday 16 June 2017 07:15

Ntebo Mokobo

This year's National Youth Day coincides with the 100th birthday of the late ANC President, Oliver Tambo.(SABC)

Young people in Ventersdorp say the hosting of the National Youth Day in their town reflects the shared legacy of June 16 for all South African youth.

President Jacob Zuma will address the main National Youth Day commemoration in Tshing township outside Ventersdorp later on Friday morning.

Young people in this rural town say the President's visit will also open up opportunities for them.

Exactly 41 years ago on this day thousands of young people in Soweto took to the streets to protest against the use of Afrikaans in black schools.

Dozens of them were arrested while others skipped the country into exile.

And the face of the June 16 Uprisings is Mbuyisa Makhubu carrying the first and youngest victim of that fateful day Hector Peterson.

But, the mastermind behind the historic day was a fiery revolutionary Tsietsi Mashinini. He was a student from Soweto's famous Morris Isaacson High School.

Mashinini stunned everyone on that day when he interrupted a teacher during assembly and told students they will be marching to Phefeni High in Orlando.

There are very few images of Mashinini and hardly anything named after him despite his contribution to the event that changed the course of the liberation struggle.  

His brother Dichaba Mashinini is lamenting the little recognition he receives from those in authority.  

Dichaba Mashinini says, "Tsietsi Mashinini, let me put it crudely, he was not a friend of the African National Congress (ANC) and history is written from the point of view of the victors and our victor is not recognising Tsietsi and is not only him, I can mention Zephania Mothopeng. They are shunned not because their contribution is mediocre but because they did not subscribe to the philosophy of the ANC and its ideology."

Although Mashinini and many others fought for a better future for the country's youth, more than four decades later some of these young people are still to receive the fruits of liberation with almost 50% of them still unemployed.

But government says significant progress has been made in youth development since 1994.

These efforts have resulted in amongst others the establishment the National Youth Commission in 1996 and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund in 2001 which were later merged to form the National Youth Development Agency in 2009.

And so far over 30 million young people have received assistance from the agency in the form of grants, loans, scholarships, mentoring or career guidance.

But government concedes a lot still needs to be done.

the 2017 commemoration is coming to Ventersdorp a rural town once regarded as a racist outpost and the home to late AWB leader Eugene Terreblanche

President Zuma says they are training young people in different fields.

"Government is doing a lot of work already in supporting youth development. More than 10 000 young people have been recruited and are been trained as water agents, electricians, plumbers and in other fields. More than 800 new enterprises will be created and a further 18 000 young people will receive the necessary support in order to succeed as entrepreneurs."

For years the commemoration of June 16 has been the preserve of Soweto and some developed parts of the country.

However, now the 2017 commemoration is coming to Ventersdorp a rural town once regarded as a racist outpost and the home to late AWB leader Eugene Terreblanche.

Young people in this area say playing host to the 2017 National Youth Day, signifies that this day belongs to all young people in South Africa.

A resident says, "I feel so proud about this because you know Ventersdorp is a forgotten place so people will notice there is a town called Ventersdorp. They will know Itumeleng Khune stays, they will know where JB Marks was born, they will know where Eugene Terreblanche was staying. So that is why it is so important for us in Ventersdorp."

And their sentiments were echoed by Stoffel Moeng from their local municipality who says firstly the President's visit will dispel the negative perception about the town and will also help to address some of the challenges facing the community.

Stoffel Moeng says, ''It has been a perception because people have been asking themselves whether Ventersdorp has been ignored or what. The visit of the President is something that we are applauding and it will also be able to give everybody an opportunity and to clear the perception and that mentality that Ventersdorp is not been regarded. Now Ventersdorp is on the map, the President of the country is coming to address the issues of poverty, unemployment, inequality and many more issues."

With a population of just over 70 000 people, one high school and no tertiary institution, unemployment among young people is standing at just above 45%.

Moeng says things are beginning to shape up since the mooted amalgamation of Ventersdorp and Tlokwe.

Moeng says, "The amalgamation of Ventersdorp and Tlokwe has also created opportunities for our people especially young people. Already some of the projects have started and all these are as a result of this amalgamation. Unemployment has been high but things have improved since these projects of EPWP, they have created jobs for people."

The 2017 National Youth Day coincides with the 100th birthday of the late ANC President, Oliver Tambo.

Government is commemorating this day under the theme "The Year of OR Tambo: Advancing Youth Economic Empowerment".  

President Zuma's address will seek to encourage young people of today to lead a struggle for radical socioeconomic transformation to ensure that they fully participate and benefit from the economy of the country.

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