Agency vows to empower rural youth

THE National Youth Development Agency faces a daunting task to deliver on its grand promises to unemployed young South Africans in rural areas.

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, when still the minister in the Presidency, promised those between 14 and 35 help with education, training, and economic participation and support when the National Youth Commission merged with the Umsobomvu Youth Fund to form the new agency in March.

The new body would coordinate youth development by developing programmes to bring about change and development in rural areas, she vowed.

Andile Lungisa, chairperson of the new agency, echoed these sentiments this week.

"We want to ensure that young people in the rural areas are afforded the same opportunities as those living in cities.

"For years they have been neglected and getting a raw deal when it comes to development and economic participation. But that is going to change."

Rural youth would be integrated into the national economy by providing training for the unemployed "to enhance their life and professional skills," he said.

"The agency will also provide financial assistance to youths to enable them to further their careers. Those that have established businesses or aspire to will also be assisted.

"The agency will also create and administer databases of employment opportunities for job-seekers," he promised.

Every three years the agency must submit a report on the status of youth, its finance and development projects.

Lungisa denied claims that the merger led to job losses and a duplication of services.

"Not a single job has been compromised by the merger, in fact we need more people to make it work.

"We have structures in all provinces, but we need people in local spheres as well," he said.

l The agency will be officially launched on June 16, Youth Day.