Unemployment. We know it’s a problem in a country as unequal as South Africa, and there’s no doubt that Covid-19 has made this issue worse.
The country is currently sitting at an unemployment rate of 30.8%. It is among the highest in the world and while the government has made promises on how it plans to address it, communities across the country are taking the initiative to talk about joblessness and how to solve it.
One such community is Warden in the Free State. In its sixth Accountabili’tea event, Accountability Lab South Africa worked with Alinah Mazibuko, an activist from Warden to kickstart this conversation. Mazibuko is also the founder of the Alinah Mazibuko Foundation (AMF), a youth development organisation.
The even, held on 30 October 2020, was dedicated to talking frankly about why unemployment is an issue, particularly in this community, and what can be done to fix it, according to Msizi Mthethwa, who facilitated the dialogue. Mthethwa is from Rea Itsitsinya IMpactors: a non-profit organisation which focuses on personal development at schools in Warden.
The audience, comprised mainly of youth, was split up to present their ideas on why there is unemployment and its possible solutions.
- lack of skills because of school dropouts
- teenage pregnancy
- insufficient access to information/ information centres
- the education system’s failure to promote self-sustainability and life skills
- youth’s lack of curiosity and laziness
The dialogue was also attended by some government representatives including the Harrismith Department of Labour, the Bloemfontein Provincial Social Development and a Warden South African Police Services (SAPS) member. They agreed that the youth’s laziness was a big concern, highlighting that youth volunteer programmes, recycling projects and interview skills training opportunities are available but there seems to be a lack of interest.
Advocate Mohapi, from the Bloemfontein Social Development department, however, also pointed out that there is a lack of social cohesion in the Warden community. She provided details to her bursary application system and encouraged people to apply. She added that someone from her department can help bring an internet cafe to Warden.
- An internet cafe where people can use computers to research
- A youth forum where individuals obtain information and share with the community
- Job creation initiatives and workshops to help the youth garner their skills and interests.
Finally, an emphasis was placed on social solidarity, helping each other out and partnerships.
The AMF took a decision to engage other organisations and bring business and skill developing workshops to the area. It’s a positive start for an active community.