A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
24 March 2006
NATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY INSTITUTE AND UMSOMBOMVU YOUTH FUND: BRIEFINGS
Documents handed out:
LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
The National Productivity Institute briefed the Committee on the general work it did, the progress it had made over the last year as well as its plans for 2006/7. Committee members were concerned that the Institute’s programmes aimed at increasing productivity did not seem to reach the rural areas of the country and the lack of capacity and productivity of government officials. Members also sought more clarity on the training of productivity coaches and its relationship with other important stakeholders. Lastly they requested more information relating to the recent exodus of Institute employees and its employment equity programmes.
The Umsombomvu Youth Fund briefed the Committee on its nature, products and services, the challenges that had arisen after its previous briefing to the Committee, its programme of action after the State of the Nation Address and finally, its approved plans for 2006/7. The Committee sought clarity on the Fund’s graduate database as well as the difference between its voucher and loan programmes. The Committee was concerned over the fact that many of the Fund’s programmes did not reach the youth in rural areas. Members also highlighted the problem of the youth not having access to funding or to tender application processes. The Committee also queried the Fund’s relationship with municipalities and government departments. Lastly, the Fund was requested to utilise parliamentary constituencies and Members of Parliament in its future programmes.
Briefing by the National Productivity Institute (NPI)
Dr Y Dladla (Executive Director) briefed the Committee on the progress made by the NPI over the last year as well as its plans for 2006/7. A video was also shown to the Committee which presented a general overview of the work it did.
The NPI had been tasked with the responsibility for improving productivity in all spheres of the nation’s economic and community life. It was governed by a tripartite Advisory Council drawn from labour, government and business. Its offices were situated in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Its values, mission and vision were also presented
It had five strategic thrusts namely enterprise activity and competitiveness, small enterprises and productivity, public sector efficiency and effectiveness, knowledge management and research and lastly, strategic leadership on productivity. It also had a number of strategic objectives that served as guiding criteria for its strategic programmes. It had five strategic programme areas which were sector initiatives, public sector productivity, enterprise productivity and competitiveness, knowledge management and research and lastly strategic leadership on productivity. All of these programmes were discussed in greater detail including the projects within these programmes for 2006/7.
The NPI had also aligned itself with a number of governmental programmes. It also briefed the Committee on its organisational management and the plans within this area for 2006/7. Lastly, its consolidated 2006/7 budget was presented. Its total revenue would be R71 million and its revenue sources were Government Grants, the Department of Labour through the social plan programme and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through the work place challenge programme. Its total expenses would consume the entire budget and it would therefore not have a surplus or deficit.
The Chairperson welcomed the NPI and its work as the ability of South Africa to compete with other countries depended on productivity. This productivity affected the annual growth rate of the country and it was therefore good to have the NPI in place whose main objective was to ensure South Africa could be counted as one of the leaders in terms of its productivity. The Government’s aim of economic growth of 6.5% was a challenge to all, especially the NPI.
The Chairperson was encouraged by the way the NPI was organised and its highly organised administration gave no doubt of its productivity. The Committee was confident in its abilities and hoped that it would get more information on the work done by the NPI at the ground level. She also congratulated the NPI on sending its presentation to the Committee a few days before the meeting and she hoped that Members had made time to read through the presentation.
Mr L Maduma (ANC) thanked the NPI for its fine presentation as it assisted the Committee to understand the enormous challenges the NPI was confronted with when dealing with the country’s difficulties. He wanted to know if the NPI included agriculture in rural areas in its programmes aimed at developing skills for productivity. He had visited many of the offices of the Agriculture Department in these rural areas and the officials working there were swamped with files of work. They did not have any Information Technology (IT) and working with this large number of files greatly slowed down their work. How did the NPI link productivity to IT as a whole?
Mr Maduma added that these officials were also not sensitive to increasing productivity as they were content with only helping one or two people a day. He felt that this was an area the NPI had to concentrate on. There had been a large influx into the cities yet there were still people interested in utilising the vast areas of land in the rural areas. The Department of Agriculture was not helping to assist these people to do so and the NPI needed to focus on assisting this Department in order to increase productivity.
Mr Maduma wanted to know why there were NPI offices in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg only. Why were there no NPI offices in the rural areas especially in the poorer provinces of Limpopo and the Eastern Cape? Lastly, how was the NPI assisting Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) as it also seemed that they were not aligning skills with demand and supply? How did the NPI assess the work done by SETAs within this area?
Mr S Goba (Programme Head) replied that the NPI had begun working with rural farmers in the Eastern Cape and had formed a number of cooperatives with the farmers. It was currently planning a strategy with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in order to obtain the technicalities that were needed to be a farmer. The NPI’s focus was on productivity and development of the farmers but what had also emerged recently were the technical competencies that these farmers required. It was currently discussing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Development Bank to provide funding so that the entire effort could be coordinated by bringing all parties together in order to provide these technical competencies. These technical competencies where needed as a basis before farmers could gain productivity skills. The NPI was also working with a number of SETAs. It had signed MoUs with the hospitality and tourism SETA where a productivity component had now been included in its internships and the Local Government SETA where a productivity component was now included in its community development worker internships. The NPI also trained the people working in these SETAs in order to increase productivity. These were the main focus areas with regards to helping SETAs. The NPI was not directly involved in helping the SETAs to address the issues of demand and supply. However, these SETAs had formed partnerships with a number of other stakeholders who provided this assistance.
Mr Maduma felt that his questions about the officials of the Department of Agriculture had not been properly addressed. The establishment of a DBSA partnership would not mean anything if these officials were not equipped to deal with the challenges in the rural areas. He himself had tried to initiate cooperatives in the past and had engaged with the senior officials of the Department of Agriculture. However, there seemed to be no sensitivity from the officials themselves. He was aware of the programmes in the Eastern Cape but what was vital was that government officials were trained to be able to assist the cooperatives that were formed by the NPI. The NPI had also not mentioned the work it did with Provincial Departments. It was important that it worked with these departments so that they were able to drive the processes that were implemented at a local level. This area was vital as it meant people would be working at grassroots level to reach Government’s aims of halving poverty by 2014.
Dr Dlala replied that the NPI appreciated Mr Maduma’s inputs. She acknowledged that the NPI needed to focus more on agricultural offices in the rural areas. This issue had been included in the NPI’s public sector programmes and would definitely be concentrated on in the future.
The Chairperson added that there were two SETAs the NPI needed to concentrate on. Firstly, the energy SETA was extremely important yet it was underdeveloped. Secondly, the tourism SETA was vital to the South African economy and therefore the tourism industry had to be focused on more.
Mr S Mesai (Head of Knowledge Management and Resources) added that a study had been done on the impact of the inclusion of a productivity component in SETA learnerships. Results had shown that participants of these learnerships were much more prepared and had better chances of employment. However, the main objectives of these SETA learnerships were that learners would become involved in the economic sector. The results had shown that many of the learners were simply moving from one learnership to another. The challenge was therefore to equip these learners with the skills to be self-sustaining within the economy. It was important to improve the alignment of learnerships to the needs of the economy and that these learnerships actually produced results at the end.
The Chairperson requested that the Committee hear about the progress made in this area in the future.
Mr T Anthony (ANC) queried the sustainability of the NPI capacity. Its briefing, which was based on the strategic plan for 2006/07, showed that the NPI would be consistently capacitated and sustainable. However, other information showed that the NPI had experienced a mass exodus of employees recently. How would this exodus affect the capacity and sustainability of the NPI and would it still be able to apply its vision? Lastly, why had this mass exodus occurred?
Mr Morotoba (Deputy Director-General of the Department of Labour) answered that it was important to sketch the context of the NPI’s sustainability. He was sure that the Committee was aware that a number of categories of statutory bodies existed within the Department. The NPI fell into the category of entities that were inherited by the new government in 1994 and were established usually by a decision made by the Cabinet. The NPI had been established along those lines. A constraint on the sustainability of entities falling in this category was that when Cabinet established them no plans were made on how to sustain them. Over the years the Department of Labour had therefore just continued transferring funds from its initial budget allocation. When raising the issue of this allocation people immediately began asking questions on what the NPI’s mandate was.
Mr Morotoba pointed out that the NPI had tried to address this problem by developing a process which included a number of players, including this Committee, which would aid the future sustainability of the NPI. Currently it operated on the basis of articles of association that dated back to 1975 with only a few adjustments made in between. What the NPI hoped to see in the future was a situation where proper legislation was put in place which would sharpen the organisation’s focus as well as its mandate and its organisational structure. It would then also receive appropriate resources which would sustain its activities as well as allow the NPI to move into other areas of interest. This was a project the NPI had identified and was focusing on. Once it had completed the necessary preparatory arrangements it would go through the Cabinet process which included briefing this Committee on the general framework that would be able to take the organisation forward and past the present articles of association. The finalisation of this process would also hopefully address the problem of long-term funding.
Dr Dladla added that 18 employees had left the NPI and there were a number of reasons why this had occurred. The NPI conducted exit interviews with all its employees and there were three main reasons why these employees left. Firstly, some retired as they had been at retirement age. Secondly, some of them had been asked to leave due to non-performance as the NPI used a stringent management performance system throughout the year. The final reason for these departures was that as the NPI developed the skills of its employees they became attractive to the private sector. The NPI could not match the salaries offered by this sector and its staff therefore followed better prospects. Most of the employees who had left for the private sector were young people who had been brought in through the workplace challenge programme in order to be trained as consultants for best operating practice. They had left when their contracts with the NPI had expired. It had been focusing on building its capacity recently and had formed a partnership with the Japanese productivity sector who trained NPI staff on their cutting edge capacity building programmes. However, she felt that she could not guarantee that the exodus would not affect the capacity and productivity of the NPI negatively.
Mr Lekgetho (ANC) took the opportunity to inform the Committee of the NPI support he had seen in Mafikeng recently. The NPI had been invited to make a presentation to five municipalities in the area and over a hundred councillors had attended. These councillors had enjoyed the presentation and had been eager to obtain information provided by the NPI afterwards. It was still important to work with the NPI to see how it trained its coaches in these areas. He believed that the situation of the three NPI offices in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg had been based on Apartheid mentality. How was the NPI going to radically address this issue in order to reverse it and how many productivity coaches had the NPI trained?
Dr Dladla responded that the NPI had held many internal discussions to consider the cost effectiveness of its programmes to see whether it should set up its own offices in rural areas or to use the technical support of people already operating there. The NPI had then decided to use the latter option so that it could build its capacity in these areas. It was currently working to establish partnerships in all the provinces. An example of such a partnership was seen in Limpopo where it was involved with the training of female entrepreneurs through the DTI’s South African Women Entrepreneurs Network (SAWEN). However, if the NPI had access to more money it would definitely be interested in opening offices in rural areas.
Mr Goba added that the NPI had trained around 100 productivity coaches over the past twelve months. These coaches were an extension of the NPI and they on average trained around fifty other people in its programmes. This meant that the NPI target was one hundred multiplied by fifty.
Ms N Ngcengwane (ANC) thanked the NPI for its fine presentation but unfortunately politicians would always remain suspicious. The NPI had mentioned the barriers to productivity in its briefing. She believed one of these barriers was the problem surrounding access to finance. How did the NPI assist people to access finance? The NPI had also undertaken the task of providing technical assistance to municipalities in order to improve productivity. How did the NPI reach the rural municipalities if its offices were based in the three main cities?
Mr I Sathekile (Programme Head) replied that the NPI had in the past put together a partnership programme with a number of partners including the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) which aimed to address the capacity of municipalities to deliver services as this was recognised as a major problem. This programme had slowed down in the previous year but the NPI was now working with the DBSA to develop a programme that would help increase the capacity of the previous programmes that were implemented. In the new financial year the NPI also hoped to focus on a number of pilot sites where a few municipalities would be chosen and worked with closely in order to improve their service delivery.
Mr Mesai added that the NPI was currently planning to come up with a more specific programme where accessing rural areas would be a priority. This programme was being planned to determine the specifics of outreach projects. The NPI was also aiming to enter municipalities where it had not worked in the past. It would focus mostly on rural areas in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape.
Mr Maduma asked a number of follow up questions. Firstly he wanted to know if the graduate training programmes offered by the NPI included graduates being trained in IT skills so that they could be competitive in this area. The NPI had also mentioned that it adopted retention strategies in order to hold on to its employees. How was the NPI going to use these strategies effectively in order to retain employees?
Ms Dladla replied that the NPI did not provide any IT training in its programmes. It only provided training in the areas of productivity and best operating practices so that graduates could move on to other companies or they could start their own companies which would provide services in specific areas. She had already pointed out that there were a number of reasons for NPI employees leaving. However, NPI had focused on a number of key areas when developing its retention strategy. These areas included providing enough scope for employees to grow and the area of remuneration. Unfortunately, it would never be able to provide the same remuneration offered by the private sector. Another focus area was providing capacity building in the organisation so that staff would gain satisfaction from reaching their own personal goals.
Mr Lekgheto commended the NPI on its training of 100 productivity coaches over the past year. He asked what requirements or qualifications the NPI sought from people interested in entering their coach training programmes.
Mr Goba answered that the NPI had various coach training programmes and the enrolment requirements differed from programme to programme. However, generally the requirements were a post matric qualification particularly for those inclined towards people development. A further requirement was proficiency in the languages spoken in certain areas as they were usually trained for placement in a specific area. The NPI further used psychometric assessments to determine what people’s interests were.
Mr Anthony had a question regarding the demand for skills and skills development in the country. How did the NPI deal with this high demand for skills and skills development and how did it measure this demand?
Mr Goba replied that the NPI was not directly involved in identifying the skills that in demand as the economy grew. He was aware that a number of stakeholders such as the SETAs and the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA) were investigating and identifying skills that were scarce in the country but the NPI was not involved. Its niche or focus area was rather skills relating to productivity.
Mr Anthony added that his question had been derived from the fact that the NPI was involved in productivity and the improvement of production and skills in the workplace. Did the NPI not experience a situation where there was a demand for certain skills that needed to be developed? His question was therefore based on the demand for skills versus the development of skills.
Mr Mesai answered that this issue was very important especially when trying to identify what made a country competitive in terms of this Human Resources aspect. The areas related to this issue were identified when looking at business efficiency and the growth of business enterprises. The NPI had not really done this systematically but ASGISA had begun to do so. It was important when assisting companies to reach new levels of competitiveness that the skills aspect was also covered. The NPI had not done this in a comprehensive manner and it therefore needed to focus on this in the future. However, when working on its programmes the NPI often identified needs that existed at the various levels such as the managerial and supervisory levels. However, these processes were currently not systematised.
Mr Morotoba added that just defining which skills were needed was a big challenge as there was no national agreement on this issue. When trying to guide SETAs in aligning their activities with ASGISA the areas of scarce skills and critical skills had been concentrated on. However, when these issues were looked at in more depth, other issues such as scarce skills were also identified including where these scarce skills could be found. There were a number of important issues that existed when one identified the scarcity of skills in one area and the oversupply of these skills in another area. It was therefore extremely important to facilitate the mobility of labour in the country.
Mr Morotoba said a further problem was that many people had the skills required for their area of work but were lacking in certain competencies due to the development of technology in these areas. These people needed to enrol in short training courses to update the skills they already had.
Mr Morotoba added that there were also a number of other political dimensions. South Africa’s history had resulted in many people being able to operate machinery without the necessary documentation that were required to do so. It was not in the interest of business owners to give these people proper recognition as if they had the required qualifications as they would then be able to demand higher salaries. The issue of fast-tracking skills development was therefore very important. However, there were a number of possible angles from which this problem could be identified as well as how it should be addressed.
Mr Maduma asked if the NPI was making progress in developing the skills of women versus men and if it was successfully developing full equal opportunities for both sexes.
The Chairperson wished to know if the NPI had addressed the health and well-being of women when addressing gender issues in its employment equity programmes.
Dr Dladla answered that the NPI was extremely conscious of gender issues and it had developed special programmes aimed at greater gender representation. For example, its productivity coach programmes had more women enrolled than men. The NPI had not done this purposely but women just seemed more active within this sector. Its other programmes were also sensitive to this issue. The NPI had also developed a programme that focused on health and well-being named the employee wellness programme. Its maternity policies were also very progressive as women were entitled to four months maternity leave.
The Chairperson thanked the NPI for its comprehensive presentation. Although the Committee had not focused on the budget of the NPI it would so when discussing the NPI briefing at a later stage.
Briefing by the Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF)
Mr N Kekana (Chief Executive Officer) briefed the Committee on the nature of the UYF, its products and services, the challenges that had arisen after its previous briefing to the Committee, its programme of action after the State of the Nation Address and finally, its approved plans for 2006/7. The mandate of the UYF was to create a platform for skills development and job creation for young people. The vision and mission of the fund was based on this mandate. Its target market was primarily the unemployed youth between the ages of 16 and 35 years.
The main products and services it provided were contact information and counselling, skills development and transfer, business development and support and enterprise finance. All these products and services were discussed in greater detail. The main challenges it faced after its previous briefing to the Committee were the consolidation of audited financial statements and access to UYF services. A number of the UYF’s highlights for 2005/6 were also presented to the Committee. Its programme of action after the State of the Nation Address was discussed in detail including the changes that were adopted after its five-year review.
Its Budget was also presented to the Committee. The UYF had received a once-off allocation from the National Treasury of R855 million. The UYF had transferred this amount from its Capital and Reserves into Deferred Income/Revenue in order to fund its commitments. Capital and Reserves had therefore been reduced over the years and steps were being taken to recapitalise the Fund. Lastly the briefing included its highlights for 2006/7.
Prince N Zulu (IFP) sought clarity on the degree of completion of the Graduates Database. If this process was complete, how many graduates had been registered? Lastly, did the UYF have a cut-off age and did it register undergraduates?
Mr Kekana confirmed that the database had been completed and was up and running. There were approximately 65 000 people registered in this database and around 400 people had been placed into jobs over the last month. There were no age limits and the UYF also defined the term "graduate" very broadly and included all universities, technikons and other tertiary institutions. People who had not actually completed their degrees or diplomas were also accepted and even people who had only completed three-month courses were allowed to register. The UYF also had a verification service to ensure that those who registered had actually received their qualifications. It worked with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) in this regard.
Mr Maduma recognised that the UYF was trying to make inroads on a number of issues. However, these inroads had only really been felt in the metropolitan areas and not the rural areas. He wanted to know if the UYF would be able to link up with the Department’s mobile units as this would enable the organisation to reach rural areas where it was not able to have fixed infrastructure. A number of youth were interested in entering the business world. Some of them were interested in entering the construction industry but did not understand the tender process. It was therefore important that the UYF concentrated on building the capacity of youth with regards to the tender process so that they would then understand this process and could then apply for tenders.
Mr Maduma added that a large number of South Africa’s youth were situated in rural areas where they were unable to contact the UYF. An example of this problem was youth who were situated in the Eastern Cape who had asked for land to start a business initiative. They needed equipment and mentoring from the UYF and it was important that the UYF focused on this need in the future. It was welcoming to hear the support given to women but this support had to close the gap between women and men in real terms. The Committee also needed to include areas in its oversight visits where it could see the work done by the UFY practically.
Mr Kekana replied that although many of the UYF’s programmes were presented only in cities it still focused on the rural areas. However, in order to make the UYF’s programmes viable it could not just provide loans but needed to implement competency programmes where the youth were also trained. However the UYF outlets developed in these rural areas meant that it did not have to rely on the assistance of service providers.
Mr Kekana added that the UYF had also met with the Deputy Director-General of the Department in order to integrate job seekers into the graduate database as well as to ensure that labour centres were trained in UYF services. It was trying to achieve the latter by working with the existing capacity in these areas.
Mr Kekana said the UYF assisted the youth with the tender process. One of its voucher services was aimed at giving tender advice to the youth. The UYF’s previous annual report had shown that young people were able to access R38 million worth of tenders. Its Business Opportunity Advice Service also played an important role in this regard. Giving advice to the youth was extremely important but it was also vital to create opportunities by fostering relationships with other stakeholders. The UYF’s Business Opportunities Support Services that linked youth to business opportunities also aimed at this.
According to Mr Kekana, the UYF had also formed a number of cooperatives with various stakeholders. Examples of these programmes were with the Independent Development Trust (IDT) and the South African Savings League. It had so far funded 28 youth cooperatives that varied in nature. Its target was to develop 75 cooperatives in the future.
Mr Kekana said that the UYF had also made inroads in closing the gap between men and women. Sixty percent of loans went to women. It was extremely important to create awareness as both women and children struggled in the employment sector.
Mr Morotaba added that there were 20 mobile units and depending on how successfully the UYF utilised these units this number would be increased. There had been discussions on how to successfully utilise these mobile units by the service delivery section of the Department.
Ms N Ngcengwane (ANC) welcomed the UYF’s presentation and commented that it was a great improvement from its previous briefing. However, she sought clarity with regards to the actual difference between the vouchers and loans that were offered by the UYF. Secondly, black people were still struggling with access to finance. The Department of Trade and Industry had tried to make interventions but young people were required to produce business plans in order to receive loans. They did not know how to do so and therefore were not able to access loans. She also wished to know how far the UYF had progressed in developing its Youth Advisory Centres in rural areas. Lastly, the UFY had discussed its work with municipalities. She was aware that there were a number of Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) that had been implemented in the municipalities. Did the UFY or the labour centres of the Department do the implementation? Did the UYF have a good enough relationship with municipalities and IDP programmes that if it identified that new houses were to be built in a certain area, the unemployed youth in this area could be trained in the skills needed to build the houses?
Mr Kekana replied that vouchers were grants that were given to young people which gave them the opportunity to approach accredited consultants in order to receive business support and interventions. A loan on the other hand had to be paid back by the young person over a specified period.
Mr Kekana said that the UYF had also tried to address the problems that surrounded access to finance. It was currently working with South African banks on two programmes. Firstly the Franchise Cadet Programme assisted youth who were interested in starting a business. The programme built entrepreneurial spirit by providing training and giving young entrepreneurs the opportunity to start and run their own businesses. Secondly, the UYF’s voucher programme helped those young people who had viable business programmes. It also trained loan officers who would serve communities to improve access to finance.
According to Mr Kekana, the UYF had already established 37 Youth Advisory Centres in rural areas. Some of these had been developed in partnership with further education and training (FET) colleges.
Mr B Mkongi (ANC) also welcomed the UYF’s report and presentation. He noticed that many Government Departments tried to make the UYF a solution to all its youth problems. Youth would often approach Government Departments with business plans and they would then be sent to the UYF. These Departments also seemed to use the loans put aside for the youth for other interests. The One Stop Shops, the UYF had planned to implement also seemed to be a problem. Why was the UYF unable to implement this programme?
Mr Mkongi also felt that service providers were still mostly white and were unaccountable to the South African public and young people were also unable to access them. What was the composition and demographics of these service providers and how was the UYF attempting to train young people so that they themselves could become service providers? Lastly, the UYF had been caught in a struggle with the Department for a number of years particularly with regards to access to funding from the National Skills Fund (NSF). How far had this challenge been resolved so that the UYF could be integrated into the national skills framework and would then receive funding?
Mr Kekana agreed that Government Departments including municipalities had youth budgets that merely rolled over each year. Often this was because of a lack of capacity in municipalities and it was therefore important for the UYF to enter these areas to provide assistance. He agreed that the establishment of the One Stop Shops had been problematic. A problem was also that service providers were often not independent from government. If things went well these service providers took all the credit and if things went wrong they blamed the UYF. It was therefore important for the UYF to be visible in these communities.
Mr Kekana agreed that in the past many of the service providers had been mainly white. However this had slowly changed and the UYF also insisted on service providers that implemented employment equity. Service providers were increasingly representative of black people and were also often public institutions such as the FET colleges. The UYF also provided training for these service providers.
Mr Kekana said that the UYF had visited many rural areas during the Parliament to the People initiative. These visits showed that many of the youth in rural areas were completely unaware of the UYF. It hoped that after developing its own outlets in these communities it could assist in communicating with the youth and create awareness of the services provided by the UYF.
Mr Morotoba added that many government departments had bits and pieces programmes aimed at the youth although they had large youth budgets.
Ms Moss (ANC) did not like the use of the word "rural". The President as well as the Deputy President referred to rural and urban areas. However, the issues that they were talking about never reached the people at ground level. There were many young people with potential in these rural areas who had obtained a matric and were even eligible for bursaries. These people did not have access to cellphones and sms facilities as they did not have this technology. It was important that the UYF focused on these areas and also made use of MPs and the parliamentary constituency offices. She remembered that in the previous year Members of Parliament were requested to fill in forms sent to them by the UYF. However no feedback had been given to Parliament on these forms. She also believed that the UYF could assist the youth and women if it made proper use of the Local Economic Development (LED) forums. Government had also embarked on a number of projects aimed at economic development including the oil and gas project in the Western Cape. Was the UYF focusing on these government programmes and did the youth actually benefit from these investments?
The Chairperson asked if a person with the cheapest cellphone on the market could access the information provided by the UYF through this service.
Mr Lekgetho had a question on the 86 integrated outlets spread around the country. How long would it take a person who made an application in Upington see a result compared to a person making the same application in Cape Town?
Mr Kekana acknowledged that everyone had their own experiences with the difficulties posed by rural areas. It was a fact that it was not easy for Government Departments to intervene in this problem. Firstly, there was the issue of the brain drain that affected rural areas. Secondly, in order for people in rural areas to obtain loans there needed to be a market for the goods and services they supplied. For example, to set up a Spar required around R5 million yet it was difficult to make a profit in the rural areas.
Mr Kekana added that the UYF had implemented programmes in rural areas but could not reach all of them. It would take a while and a number of initiatives to see progress in rural development. However, the UYF was very conscious of this problem and tried to address it by running a number of programmes in rural communities. The UYF had decided to implement its own Youth Advisory Centres as it often found that in many of the rural areas there were no service providers to assist with its programmes. It had established one of these centres in Kimberley where it had sent its own people to train the rural people and it had so far been very successful. He welcomed the Committee to view the progress the UYF had made in all these areas.
The Chairperson acknowledged that Members wanted to pose more questions to the UYF but this was not possible due to time constraints. The Committee would be discussing the UYF during its monitoring sessions and it was also important to focus on how the UYF played a role in other initiatives such as the programmes of the NPI and ASGISA. It was vital that unemployed youth became a priority as they were unable to access funds and unemployment was a major cause of suffering in South Africa. The Government’s aim of halving unemployment by the year 2014 directly spoke to the programmes of the UYF. It was important that the UYF utilised both the parliamentary constituency offices and MPs in the future.
The meeting was adjourned.