Mayor appoints youth to advocate for young people

The Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mzwandile Masina has established a youth directorate to deal with youth issues especially difficulties faced by young people, such as lack of financial aid, youth development and economic opportunities. The division is headed by Advocate Modise Koetle.

The city hosted various youth programmes since the beginning of June. Koetle told the Mail & Guardian. “This is why the city has taken a keen interest in youth issues. We are passionate about youth leadership and development.”
The city is passionate about advancing youth development and social justice for all and is committed to advancing youth economic development in the City of Ekurhuleni through the implementation of youth policies, and advocating for youth empowerment initiatives.

As divisional head in the office of the mayor, Koetle is responsible for co-ordinating and planning work around the four pillars: mainstreaming youth development, social transformation, skills development and economic transformation.

The youth directorate is responsible for strategically leading, co-ordinating, monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the mainstreaming of youth development in policies, programmes and plans of City of Ekurhuleni and other sectors of society by co-coordinating and overseeing the implementation of integrated and mainstreamed youth development programmes in the City.

Reporting directly to the executive mayor, the youth directorate also motivates for the provision of resources, budget and strategic and technical support in the implementation of the mainstreamed youth development programmes.
The youth directorate also manages relevant partnerships at a local, provincial and national level with government structures, NGOs, community-based organisation and other role players whose service is youth focused.

“In Ekurhuleni, most perpetrators of crime are youth, and most victims are also youth. The city is working on various interventions through arts and culture and various social cohesion programmes to respond to these social ills,” said Masina.

The objective of social transformation responds to the social needs of youth and the importance of them participating fully in society and communities in which they live. This shall form part of building social cohesion, national unity and harmony. Interventions in terms of this objective will focus on building the social capital and youth networks; strengthening their identity, building their self-esteem, developing a sense of belonging and nurturing a shared value system. Statistics from the City of Ekurhuleni Youth Report, notes that 66% of respondents did not take part in either community projects or responsibility campaigns, 70% did not participate in environmental awareness campaigns and cleaning. Only 19% participated in Integrated Development Plan (IDP) processes. Social cohesion activities include community service, civic participation, volunteering, increased participation in civil society processes such as the development of Ekurhuleni’s IDP, involvement in ward committees and re-integration of youth into communities.

The municipal administration will implement the National Drug Master Plan this month to intervene in the scourge of substance abuse in Ekurhuleni. Masina said every township in Ekurhuleni will also soon have an anti-substance abuse centre where young addicts can easily check themselves in and out without encountering any problems.
During the Youth Summit held at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg the City plans to focus on economic transformation of the region through business opportunities for the youth.

The summit, will witness the signing of the Youth Accord social impact between the City of Ekurhuleni and specific corporate businesses where youth development initiatives will be mainstreamed. The Youth Accord will establish a project management unit to facilitate the agreements and financial aspects contained therein.

The City of Ekurhuleni has set aside R1-billion for youth empowerment through the Mintirho ya Vulavula Community Empowerment Programme, which will assist local SMMEs owned by women, young people and people with disabilities.

In addition, the city has launched the EPWP Vukuphile Phase 3 Learner Contractor Programme, which incorporates contractors, and we help skill them to deal with triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment at grassroots level. This approach enabled the City to leverage its budget spent to stimulate the transfer of skills and empower local communities in a manner that enhances their productive capabilities and to eventually become fully-fledged construction companies.

The City is also planning to train youth to supply services to the municipality and encourage business networking. Masina further said the aim is to empower young people to make use of economic avenues provided by the municipality in an effort to meet their entrepreneurial goals.

Later this month, the City of Ekurhuleni will launch the Youth Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, aimed at capacitating and equipping young entrepreneurs and training unemployed young people in entrepreneurship.

The youth and economic transformation objective responds to the need to change the economic status of youth by ensuring that youth are empowered to participate in mainstream economic development activities, as an essential national process aimed at eradicating poverty and meeting the economic needs of youth.

All interventions in terms of this objective will focus on promoting employment, raising incomes, removing barriers that constrain youth participation in the labour market and attain other ‘youth-centred’ economic development outcomes. All three spheres of South Africa’s government have implemented a wide range of initiatives to grow the economy generally and ensure the participation of youth in the mainstream economy in particular. — Charles Molele