Sun Sep 24 03:28:25 CAT 2017

Opinion: State capture is betrayal of empowerment of youth

By Nompumelelo Runji | 2017-06-16 12:16:30.0

June is youth month. But this has been lost to the public discourse given the explosive e-mail leaks detailing the intricacies of the Gupta's state capture project.

What has so far been uncovered about state capture is a sorry tale of how leaders entrusted with the state's development project have instead sold the state to one foreign family. This is akin to how Esau in the Bible sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of lentil soup.

Just like Esau, these leaders have sacrificed the prosperity of the nation for their temporary pleasures of ill-gotten gain.

Strategic decisions and policy-making powers in government have been outsourced to the Gupta-led network.

The imperatives of policies such as the National Development Plan (NDP), which are meant to reduce poverty and inequality by 2030, have been heavily compromised.

Delivering on the NDP would unlock the potential of South African youth, who are the most hamstrung by the current socioeconomic context.

The majority of youth in this country, most of whom black, are not only unemployed but unemployable. They are stuck in a cycle of generational poverty which is perpetuated by poor educational outcomes through a dysfunctional education system.

For black youth, the unemployment rate is 65% . If they don't get a job by 24, they are unlikely to even get formal employment. Unresolved, this trend poses the single greatest risk to social stability.

According to Statistic South Africa's Social Profile of Youth 2009-2014 report, unemployment among youth was sitting at 66.6% by 2014. In addition, young people are the most affected by infectious diseases such as HIV and TB.

Youth aged 16 to 34 years are more likely to be victims of assault, property theft and robbery, while also being more likely to perpetrate these crimes.

Most importantly, young people suffer most when government fails to fulfil its mandate.

The most visible of these failures are in the provision of healthcare services, the guarantee of access to quality education, and ensuring community safety and security through efficient and effective law enforcement and social services.

What does all this have to do with the state of governance in the country and state capture? Everything.

The NDP identifies the president, deputy president, provincial and local government leadership as key drivers in the achievement of its goals.

Summarising the NDP, the SA government website cites the important role of political leadership in the country.

"The plan identifies the task of improving the quality of public services as critical to achieving transformation.

"The president and deputy president will be the lead champions of the plan within cabinet, in government and throughout the country. Premiers and mayors will need to be active champions of the plan, with their offices being the catalytic agencies to drive implementation at provincial and municipal levels."

To guarantee the present and future wellbeing and prosperity of young people requires a stable government and capable state. However, state capture undermines both. The promise is indeed being betrayed.

Young people are right to declare that it is not yet uhuru.