Youth Day commemorations were held under strict COVID-19 regulations for a second year in a row. After lockdown restrictions were tightened on Tuesday night, only a handful of people attended the national Youth Day celebrations in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.

Among them were a number of business people exhibiting their products and ideas to support the theme of job creation for young people. President Cyril Ramaphosa’ delivered the keynote address virtually.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Youth Day address in the video below:

Ramaphosa’s Tuesday announcement that the country will move to level three lockdown from midnight, resulted in the country’s leading artists singing to many empty chairs in the Harry Gwala Stadium as attendance at the event was scaled down.

COVID-19 regulations were strictly enforced after an average of 7 500 daily infections were recorded in the past week. Under Level 3 of the lockdown, outdoor gatherings are now limited to 100 people – down from the previous 250.

At the event, Mampho Moshoeshoe, said the day has great significance for her.

“The people who fought for us are the reason why today we have various doors that we didn’t imagine that we can reach judging from the past and everything that was happening and we are our ancestors dream because they fought for us and it means quite a lot, I’m quite scared since our youth is not quite living up to the standard the youth back then in those years fought for,” she said.

For Preneesa Govender and Angel Zuma, increased gender-based violence is among their top concerns for the future.

“The Youth Day means a lot to me since we are the future of our country and we do want to make our country very safe and I think it is very nice that we have these days to educate us and to empower us as well and we hear a lot of rapes of people our age. People beating us. One of the struggles we face is to try and voice ourselves because people do not want to listen to us whatever we say they always say we are wrong,” says Govender.

Zuma adds: “It means a lot because it is the day that remind us that guys let not take education for granted some people died for it, my fears of being a young person is the fact that young people these days they do not take life seriously they are living for the moment. It hurt to see young people wasting their lives drinking, they are wasting their energy that is my fear because the next 10 years what is going to happen because people who are young now in the next 10 years they will be adults.”

There were also handful of young business people showcasing their ideas to create jobs for themselves and others.

What drew the attention of many, was the stand for a women-only gym. The founder of FemActive Studio, Nolwazi Njilo, says her business is also offering female instructors a break in a male-dominated industry.

“Let me make a gym and let me make a space for females, people that I employ are young females and I have female instructors, as female instructors to break into the fitness industry because it is so focused on males so if you are a woman you can’t be strong and be feminine at the same time so for me I thought of just having the gym. My advice is to start somewhere, start in your community and make something in your back yard so people know about you they see you from there you can grow you have some sort of a foundation, the main advice is to start,” says Njilo.


Harambee Employment Accelerator

Harambee Employment Accelerator officials were also present at the celebrations.

The organisation’s Nokubonga Gumbi says their zero-rated platform has over 1.9 million users. The platform enables young people to create their own profiles and be exposed to various opportunities – including job searches – virtually.

Gumbi says in this way young people don’t have to spend money to physically drop their CVs off.

“Through this network people can access the visibility of opportunities and the biggest principle that we built on is that is free it is about young person going into SA to join it is a zero rated platform. We have visibility where they can wake up and view in the morning if you are going into the SA Youth access content to learn and also to access opportunities to apply for job opportunities. We have various of them but also it is really about us partnering with other organisations to use this platform which is zero-rated to access all these networks and you do not need to travel anywhere to drop off your CV.”

Despite the number of initiatives Ramaphosa highlighted in his speech to provide young people with training, skills, work experience and jobs, several young people in the audience felt that these efforts do not amount to much in easing the high unemployment rate among the youth.

According to Statistics South Africa, 46.3% of young South Africans are without jobs.