Youth Parliament: A wasted opportunity to help our youth
Watty Watson, Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance
21 June 2012
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is today attending Parliament’s annual Youth Parliament, which provides an opportunity for political parties to engage directly with the youth of South Africa. While we believe it is important to create platforms that enable meaningful engagement with the youth on a number of critical issues, we have serious concerns about the organisation and cost of this event.
The R2.1 million spent on the Youth Parliament could have been put to better use by securing 57 young people sustainable and long-term jobs under an implemented Youth Wage Subsidy scheme, for example.
Key concerns with the event include:
- The total cost of today’s event is at least R2.1 million, with approximately R800 000 spent on advertising and approximately R300 000 on paraphernalia such as T-shirts, bags, notebooks and banners.
- The ANC’s programming whip, at a meeting of the Chief Whip’s Forum, claimed that the high cost of the event was due to travel and accommodation costs, yet invited DA Youth members were informed that no money was available to transport its representatives to the event.
- The DA never received a formal invitation to attend the event, or a programme of the event.
- The only formal correspondence the DA Youth received was an email request sent this Monday at 2pm – a mere three days before the start of the event.
- The Public Relations Office in Parliament has consistently been unable to provide basic details of the event.
- The proceedings turned shambolic as the Chairperson of the Youth Parliament, Makhubela Mashele, does not know the rules of parliamentary debate.
- The Deputy Speaker, Hon N.C Mfeketo, used her opening speech to politicise the event by trashing her own party’s policy of introducing a Youth Wage Subsidy scheme.
- The Chairperson disallowed the right to reply to the Deputy Speaker’s opening speech, effectively suppressing debate and riding roughshod over the rules of Parliament.
The dysfunctional organisation of the event raises serious concerns about its legitimacy as a so-called sectoral Parliamentary event, and as a platform to provide any meaningful outcomes. The outrageous costs involved demonstrate just how out of touch the ruling party is with the serious challenges faced by the youth of South Africa, chief among which are unemployment and a truly dire education system.
I will continue to lobby for the youth to be taken seriously by Parliament. I will raise my concerns over the mismanagement of the Youth Parliament and continue pushing for a debate on the Youth Wage Subsidy, which is provisionally scheduled to take place in Parliament on 16 August. We owe the youth of South Africa more than a pointless talkshop in order to make a meaningful difference to their lives.