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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 June 2006
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, EMPLOYMENT AND CITIZENSHIP: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Independent Electoral Commission presentation
The Department of Provincial and Local Government, the Independent Electoral Commission and the National Youth Commission met with the Committee to discuss youth development, employment and citizenship issues. The policy framework for youth development was discussed and various challenges were outlined. Various key programmes were explained. Information on current voting patterns and election statistics were presented. An integrated approach was needed for youth development. Free basic education should be provided at all levels.
Members asked certain questions including the number of youth organisations, the need for integration of the sector, the inclusion of youth structures within local government, the role of the Department in monitoring youth benefits at the local level, the update of the Voters’ Roll, the presence of the Youth Commission in rural areas, reasons for decline in voter turnout and the improvement of communication of success stories.
Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) presentation
Ms S Makotoko (Deputy Director-General: Systems and Capacity-Building) provided detail on the status of the youth within South Africa and the policy framework for youth development. Various challenges were outlined and opportunities explained for mainstreaming youth development. The Local Economic Development (LED) and Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) processes were discussed. The Department’s Internship Programme and Plan of Action was recounted.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) presentation
Adv P Tlakula (Chief Electoral Officer) referred to the Constitutional mandate and the legislative framework. Information was provided on the Voter’s Roll and other registration details. Voter turnout percentages were provided. Voter education programmes were conducted to increase awareness on election-related matters.
National Youth Commission (NYC) presentation
Mr L Mboyi (Chief Executive Officer) declared that an integrated approach was required to achieve youth development objectives. The Youth Commission should be included in the list of Chapter 9 institutions. The Commission enjoyed variable success in different provinces. A Youth Ministry was needed to guide development. The Commission advocated the provision of free basic education at all levels of the sector. The location of local youth units had to be carefully planned.
Mr S Mashudulu (ANC) noted that many youth organisations currently existed resulting in confusion. The Committee should support the integration of the sector and engage with all stakeholders. Provincial structures had to be active at the local level.
Mr M Lekgoro (ANC) stated that youth organisations had to be involved in development initiatives at the local level. Youth groups had to arrange events and be more proactive in driving development. The youth had to be included in Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).
Mr W Dorman (DA) stated that the Chairperson of the Youth Commission should have been present at the meeting. The youth should be involved in the MIG and LED programmes. He asked whether the Department was setting targets for the achievement of youth benefits in the various programmes. Voting patterns were important sources of information and he asked how reliable the current figures were. The Voters’ Roll had to be updated.
Mr M Swathe (DA) asked whether the Youth Commission operated in rural areas and whether the youth was included in MIG-related projects. Long-serving presiding officers in the IEC had to be changed to create opportunities for other candidates.
The Chairperson concurred that the absence of the Youth Commission Chairperson was a disappointment. He suggested that all government departments should promote co-operatives and he asked what plans were in place to facilitate this. The promotion of entrepreneurial skills was a key component of long-term economic development. Clarity was sought on the term “closed” with regard to the IEC. Reasons for the decline in voter turnout were requested.
Mr Mboyi apologised for the failure of the Chairperson to attend the meeting. The Commission placed a strong emphasis on rural youth. Various initiatives were in place such as the purchase of farms to train the youth on farm management and related activities. The Commission did not have the capacity to facilitate youth development on its own but depended on a team approach to achieve objectives. The acquisition of land was an important component of youth development and the improvement of living standards. Parliament should promote the advent of free education in South Africa.
Adv Tlakula replied that the Voters’ Roll was linked to the Home Affairs Population Register system. The hand held scanners were aging but remained accurate with a 2% margin for error. The retention of presiding officers was in order to retain skills and knowledge of complex legal issues. The closed list referred to the proportional representation political party system. The voter turnout in South Africa was not a concern as some mature democracies had a lower turnout figure.
Mr T Tselane (Commissioner-IEC) added that the handheld scanners were useful on the day of elections to speed up the process. Presiding officers such as school principals were useful as they could manage the process. The media and political parties should assist in regenerating interest in the political process and elections. Anomalies on the Voters’ Roll would have to be corrected.
The Chairperson noted the value that volunteers can bring to the election process and asked how volunteers were managed and selected.
Adv Tlakula stated that volunteers received no payment other than support for subsistence and travel. Guidelines were in place to oversee the appointment of volunteers. Volunteers could not hold office in a party and had to be registered voters. Individuals were cross-checked with candidate lists.
Ms Makotoko declared that other youth-orientated projects existed that had not been mentioned in the meeting. Financial internship programmes were in place. Interns had been placed at municipalities in terms of Project Consolidate. The youth should be involved in infrastructure plans at the local level. Co-operatives would remain a key focus of the IDPs for the next five years. The Department supported the notion that the youth ought to influence policy development at the local government level.
Mr P Pillay (DPLG-MIG) stated that the Department intended to unbundle more projects below R5 million to create job opportunities for the youth and the unemployed. Local labour content would be used in infrastructure projects and permanent opportunities would be generated. The construction industry development board would assist in the MIG process to enable contractors to develop sound track records. A target for youth employment in the MIG process would be established.
Mr Mashudulu stated that the Committee needed to establish how many youth and disabled persons were registered with the social welfare system. Parliamentary Constituency offices could assist with information provision to municipalities.
The Chairperson asserted that communication had to be improved to all stakeholders on the strategy and progress achieved. A youth strategy at the local government level had to be devised.
Ms Makhi (National Youth Commission) stated that provincial workshops had been held to guide the establishment of youth units at the local government level. Many Councils displayed a lack of buy-in to the notion of youth development. The Department should intervene to ensure that youth development was included in IDPs.
The Chairperson added that the youth had to actively engage with local government structures to promote youth development. The Youth Commission should provide a profile of youth within Metros and large municipalities to assist the planning process.
The meeting was adjourned.
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