'President's response to my jobless problem crushed me'

Varsity graduate Khoza 'does not feel like Tintswalo'

Koena Mashale Journalist
President Cyril Ramaphosa talks to Slindokuhle Khoza during the ANC election campaign in Orange Farm.
President Cyril Ramaphosa talks to Slindokuhle Khoza during the ANC election campaign in Orange Farm.

Slindokuhle Khoza, 23, was very excited when president Cyril Ramaphosa called her from the crowd during his walk on the streets of Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, at the weekend when he was campaigning for the upcoming elections.

In their short conversation captured on video, the president can be heard asking her about her background to which she replied she was unemployed. In his response, Ramaphosa advised her to "keep searching", a statement that sparked outrage among social media users. 

Khoza said the statement deflated her following initial joy and hope for being called over for a conversation by the president.

“I was quite shocked [when he called me over]. I don’t really know how I wanted the conversation to go. All that ran through my head was that the president wants to speak to me,” said Khoza. 

“I thought I could get something like a job from the conversation with him. Now looking back at the video, I can’t help but get irritated because maybe I could have asked him for help or asked him to do something.

"I regret the way that conversation went. I felt disappointed when he said I should keep looking because I have been looking and I told him that. I was crushed,” said Khoza. 

Khoza graduated with the bachelor of arts in communication from North West University last year. She has been looking for work since but could only manage to get a job as cleaner at a factory where she earned R80 a day for six months last year. 

“I started applying way before I graduated but even that didn’t help because I kept getting rejection responses. They would say that my CV was impressive but I would get no job," said the first-born of four children raised by a single mother.

“It’s pointless to have a degree and still heavily rely on your mother for everything. It’s not nice especially because she still needs to take care of my three younger siblings.” 

Khoza said that she didn’t even know that the president was coming to Orange Farm, that she only found out on Sunday morning. 

“The news was circulating around and so I asked the ANC members whether it was true and why he was coming. They said he was here to connect with residents and community. I thought why not attend and see if there is something I could get out of it. When he arrived, I joined the crowd and they handed out [ANC] T-shirts,” she said.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said the president encouraged Khoza to register on the SA youth mobi. The SAYouth.mobi is a zero-rated platform for unemployed young people to access opportunities for learning and earning. 

"Over 4.3 million young people are now engaged on the network, and 1.6 million have so far secured opportunities," said Magwenya.

During his State of the Nation Address in February, Ramaphosa used the analogy of a child called Tintswalo, born at the dawn of democracy who benefited from government programmes. 

However, Khoza said she does not fully relate to Tintswalo but is grateful for what the government has provided for her. 

“I am grateful for the [child-support] grant I received as a child because I had a poor upbringing, and for the  NSFAS [study grant] that sent me to school. I am grateful to the government but not necessarily Ramaphosa’s Tintswalo,” said Khoza. 


This article has been updated to reflect the presidency's comment.

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