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OPINION | Collective effort needed to conquer youth struggles of millennia
12 June 2021, 10:00 AM

The month of June is no ordinary month in South Africa, especially for its youth. It is a reminder of the Heroes and Heroines of 1976, who made history during this month. The 16th of June 1976 South Africa saw an uprising where thousands of students in Soweto started a march against the Bantu Education System, which compelled Black student to learn in Afrikaans.

On the fateful day of June, students were to have a peaceful march to Orlando Stadium as a sign of resistance against the new language policy. However, events did not turn out as expected and these particular events made the month of June what it is in SA today.

Although it is a month where we commemorate the bravery and victory of the 1976 youth, South Africa’s youth is still faced with challenges. Youth struggles today have become so complex and distressing that their simultaneous occurrences, make them extremely difficult to successfully deal with them in a feasible way both by the government and citizens at large.

That struggles faced in the modern era seem to be vast in nature, does not in any way imply that those of 1976 are invalidated. I venerate the youth of 1976 for their relentless valour and guidance for which they left for generations thereafter.

Challenges facing South-African youth today span from a number of elements dealt with domestically varying from the corruption scourge to the youth having little or no faith in governance (Patel; Graham: 2019). It is imperative to recall that struggles come from whence there is disparity, and these grapples the youth are faced with today most probably occur from those in the past. Today the youth bears the brunt of the past struggles and the latter.

Youth unemployment

Contemporary youth challenges comprise of the high unemployment rate, ever rising higher education tuition fees, the digital divide, school dropouts and currently the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February, SA youth aged 15-24 years recorded a high unemployment rate of 63.2% while the unemployment rate of those aged 25-34 years was 41.2% in the Q4 2020 unemployment rates by Statistics South Africa.

These unemployment rates are in essence a guideline of how many of South Africa’s youths are without employment and a tangible source of income. The struggle becomes then a factor contributing to a number of other challenges that the country is faced with, such as the spiralling criminal activities. Because of unemployment, we have a frustrated youth on the verge of destruction today.

Access to education

In 2020, when SA was due for a hard lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many students in higher learning institutions were faced with the challenge of vacating, especially university residences. This for students meant going back home to their various provinces and putting to a halt education programmes, except of course for those institutions where the mode of remote learning was not new.

As it was seen a number of higher learning institutions introduced remote learning programmes later on, with students requesting digital gadgets to enable them access to this particular mode of learning. Remote learning, however, for many institutions exposed the flaws and bridges to the gaps in our educational system. It became evident that the government is still faced with so much responsibilities in as far as providing necessary educational resources.

Tertiary students in most parts of rural areas were faced with challenges of exclusivity, late to no arrival of study packs and at most lack of connectivity in the 4th Industrial Revolution era.

According to Dube (2020), online learning meant rural students will be excluded from learning and teaching, because of lack of resources and low-tech software, amongst many others.

Considering COVID implications on the youth of SA academically, one can only imagine the intensity and frustration of young people who are neither employed nor studying and should contend with the advancement of technology. In an evolving global landscape, South Africa – like many other countries – has the responsibility to adapt to ongoing changes in various industries, but what will this mean pragmatically for its youth?

The youth and 4IR

Blending of human life with technology to coexist – means innovation of new ways to do things, it means less need for human power, effortless services, and it means more machinery and robotics. It is alleged that it also means more job losses and in this case for the South African youth and not so much excitement on science innovations since humanoids are designed with artificial intelligence to offer the same services as human consultants.

It can be argued that the 4IR brings about opportunities for young people to explore, although SA is still not able to meet completely the advancement needs of its youth. The country is still faced with the challenge of lack of information amongst young people about occurrences within the country, what more of the global situation! Can our youth be able to account for what the 4IR is and what it entails? Breaking down of communication is also one of the most contributing factors of youth challenges today, especially with dissemination of information.

I ascertain that perceptions need to be changed, it is a bit unfair that even with the nexus of issues the youth are faced with government is to blame. Indeed human accountability should remain at the forefront of all governing leaders, for the alleged lootings and discrepancies but youth accountability should also come to play. It is within the capabilities of young people to change the narrative of their struggles.

‘Up to us to change’

It is undisputed that youth challenges then and today vary, however opportunities today can be explored. We may have youth riots against higher learning fees, but we also have institutions like the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) which despite the current grievances by students regarding late and non-payments, young people from middle and disadvantaged backgrounds can be afforded an opportunity to get higher education.

We cannot solely be dependent on government for changes, neither can we demand that blame be apportioned everywhere else except with the youth. Youth of today can make use of organisational facilities that are meant for their empowerment to enhance knowledge and acquire skills.

Small businesses can be developed by young people, free online courses and job opportunities amongst many others can be explored. We should no longer see acts of violence as means to solutions.

We the youth also have the responsibility to teach and learn from one another. It is up to us, although not entirely, to change the circumstances of our surroundings.

Collectively there is so much we can achieve against the youth struggles of millennia. “A civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence”- Sigmund Freud

Beauty Mbuwane is the author of this piece. She is an intern at the Institute for Global Dialogue and a final year Student of International Communication at Tshwane University of Technology.

Pace of economic recovery dependent on ability to resolve energy crisis swiftly: Ramaphosa
10 June 2021, 1:36 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the ability to address the country’s energy crisis swiftly will determine the pace of the economic recovery.

He was outlining government’s economic recovery plans during a virtual briefing.

“We know that resolving the energy supply shortfall and reducing the risk of load shedding is our single most important objective in reviving economic growth because there is no economy that can really grow without energy security,” he said.

Ramaphosa reassured South Africa that Eskom will remain the country’s main energy generator – despite announcing that Nersa’s licensing threshold for embedded generation projects will be increased to 100 megawatts.

The President says government intends on amending Schedule Two of the Electricity Regulation Act to help achieve energy security and reduce impact of load shedding.

“This intervention reflects our determination to take the necessary action to achieve energy security and to reduce the impact of load shedding in businesses and households across the country,” he said.

The President says they are working to ease the pressure on Eskom.

“Eskom has a future in our country and Eskom is the biggest generator in our country with 45 000 megawatts. For anybody to build up that capacity it will take easily 30-50 years, in my book. Eskom will continue as a generator of energy, continue playing a key and central roll but right now, because of the challenges that Eskom is going through, we need to ease that pressure on Eskom and allow other generators to come to the fore,” he adds.

President Ramaphosa announces economic recovery plan:

Frustration over power crisis

South Africa is currently on Stage 3 load shedding.

South Africans and the business community are hopping mad over this.

Soweto residents take their power struggle to Eskom’s headquarters:

The latest group to speak to SABC News on this are university students.

They say they are frustrated at the frequent changes to load shedding stages announced by the power utility.

On Wednesday, Eskom placed the country on stage four from 2pm until 10pm, thereafter stage two, and is currently implementing stage three until 10pm.

Durban student Byron Govender (20) says load shedding is affecting both learning and submission of assessments, as all classes have been moved to digital platforms. He says he is also concerned about interruptions to online examinations.

“Assignments are submitted online, tests are done online, everything is done on a digital platform that requires electricity to access and to maintain access – because as much as there’s schedules for load shedding sometimes it is a bit too long and people can’t charge their devices long enough to stay logged on because the power will just cut off on your phone or on your laptop.

Exams are nearing, exams are happening for some modules and I’m worried about half-way through my exam my power cuts, and I’m worried will my submissions still got through. Am I now eligible to write this exam because my power cut and now I can’t submit properly – there was a break in my signal. Now the lecturer might think we’re cheating,” says Govender.

Earlier on Thursday, Cabinet acknowledged South Africans’ frustration over this and said it is confident in the measures that have been put in place to improve the situation.

More on Ntshavheni’s remarks in the video below:

Power cuts to resume at 8am amid public outcry
10 June 2021, 6:48 AM

Eskom says it is to implement stage three load shedding from 8am on Thursday until 10 pm after which stage two load shedding will be implemented for the rest of the week.

The power utility says a number of generating units had gone down amid high power consumption because of the cold weather. It ramped load shedding to stage four on Wednesday afternoon and into the evening.

Reaction to Eskom’s implementation of stage 4 load shedding:

Economist Mike Schussler says persistent load shedding will cripple South Africa’s economic recovery, without an urgent solution being found to the planned power cuts.

“When we have load shedding in South Africa every kilowatt-hour passes in R17 lost to the economy, you probably talking 17-million per hour lost to the economy. In the daytime, it’s a bit more and at night, it’s a bit less. If the load shedding continues at stage 4 pace it’s going to be damaging to the economy. Obviously 4 stages, we are looking at R68-million loss. But if the load shedding is going to be very damaging to the economy and in some cases even water shedding is against us,” says Schussler.

Government slammed

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has slammed government’s failure to keep the lights on.

In a statement, the organisation agrees with Schussler’s sentiments and says the current load shedding is devastating for businesses in all sectors of the economy and is creating hardship for citizens.

Business Unity South Africa has warned that if independent power producers are not allowed to add more electricity to the national grid, load shedding will never stop. Busa is calling for more investment in renewable energy and for government to change legislation and give more capacity to those who want to generate their own electricity.

“Eskom has got old machinery and power stations which will keep breaking up. What we now need is urgency from government to bring into the system alternative sources of power. Renewables, solar power, increasing own generation from 10 to 50megawatts. We have to concentrate on that while Eskom tries to fix it. If we do not bring more power into the grid. Load shedding will not stop,” says Busa CEO Cas Coovadia.

‘Power cuts bad for everyone’

South Africans have also voiced their frustration over the power outages.

They say they are bad for everyone including businesses.

“It takes us backward because the rest of the world is talking about restating their economies. Eskom needs to put its act together because the whole electricity question now is a national security threat. Equipment like fridges work with electricity and they won’t function well. Temperatures will be compromised,” some told SABC News.

The National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) wants ESKOM CEO Andre de Ruyter sacked over the worsening power supply crisis in the country.

Mali coup leader Assimi Goita sworn in as transitional president
7 June 2021, 3:40 PM

Assimi Goita, the Malian colonel who has overthrown two presidents in the past nine months, said he would oversee a transition toward democratic elections as he was sworn in as interim president on Monday.

Goita had already been declared president by the constitutional court last month after ousting Bah Ndaw, but was formally sworn in on Monday during a ceremony in the capital Bamako.

He is under pressure from regional and international powers to ensure elections go ahead next February as scheduled, but his advisers have suggested that the timetable could change.

“The situation offers us the opportunity to put the process of transition back in the direction desired by the people,” said Goita, who had traded his camouflage fatigues for a dark gray officer’s uniform and a yellow sash.

He added that he was committed to implementing “the actions necessary for the success of the transition, notably the organisation of credible, fair and transparent elections that are held as scheduled.

Discussion on Mali’s political impasse following the country’s suspension from Ecowas:

sabc news IAEA DG
UN nuclear watchdog sees indications of plutonium work in North Korea
7 June 2021, 3:05 PM

The  United Nations (UN) atomic watchdog has seen indications in North Korea of possible reprocessing work to separate plutonium from spent reactor fuel that could be used in nuclear weapons, the head of the agency said on Monday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not had access to the secretive state since Pyongyang expelled its inspectors in 2009. The country then pressed ahead with its nuclear weapons programme and soon resumed nuclear testing. Its last detonation of a nuclear weapon was in 2017.

The Vienna-based IAEA now monitors North Korean activities at sites including the main nuclear complex at Yongbyon from afar, mainly using satellite imagery.

In a quarterly update to a meeting of his agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said steam had continued to emerge from a plant serving a reprocessing lab at Pyongyang since he reported it billowing at the last meeting.

“The duration of this operation is consistent with the time required for a reprocessing campaign at the Radiochemical Laboratory. It is not, however, possible to confirm that reprocessing is taking place,” he added.

There was no indication in the past three months of operations at North Korea’s main, 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon that is widely believed to have produced plutonium for weapons. The IAEA has previously said it has probably been shut down since December 2018.

There was also no indication that a Yongbyon facility thought to be an enrichment plant had been in operation, he added, and internal construction work at an experimental light-water reactor there appeared to continue.

Grossi added, however, that there were “ongoing indications of activity” at a facility just outside Pyongyang called Kangson, which has attracted attention as a potential enrichment site.

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