Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Youth Development and Career Expo, Nkowankowa Stadium, Tzaneen

Programme Director,

Our Host, the Premier of Limpopo, Mr Stanley Mathabatha,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Community leaders,

Social partners,

The youth of Tzaneen and surrounding areas,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Avuxeni! ThAbA�la! Good Day!

It is a joy and pleasure to be in the company of passionate young people from a region that captures the essence of life itself.

Tzaneen, as South Africa’s fruit basket, is a place where we meet to plant, nourish and grow the potential of our land and people.

It is a place where dreams are made, hope rekindled and results achieved.

It is a place that we can look to and say ‘South Africa is alive with possibility’.

We look at this community with pride and appreciation because it has enriched our country with sports stars like Ntando Nyakane and Chiliboy Ralepelle. We look at this province with great appreciation and admiration for giving us two Governors of the Reserve Bank.

We say if Governors Tito Mboweni and Lesetja Kganyago are the children of Tzaneen and Ga-Maribane, then there must be no limit to the imagination and dreams of the children from the villages of Khitoni, Kubjana and Mogapeng. We are here to say to the youth of Tzaneen and to the youth of Limpopo that we care about your dreams and growth.

We are here to remind you that education and the acquisition of skills is the best way to get out of poverty and reach your goals. We are here to remind you that as parents and leaders, we care deeply about your future and success.

We are here to remind you to prepare, starting today, for when you will harvest the results of your hard work, patience and determination. Like your local peer, Irvin Relebogile who is in grade 12, we are here to warn you of the things that can stand between you and your success.

Irvin, who has dreams of becoming an accountant, writes in his poem,

‘It Was All Gone’, that:

Our childhood was then gone;

Lost to false perceptions,

Lost to desires body-born,

Devoured by the harsh,

Convincing words of peers,

Then it was too late;

The dawn of adulthood was in,

Traces of what used to be was all?That could be seen,

Now our hearts cry out loud in regret:

Saying ‘that’s our true story’.

But if you act on the opportunities available, there is no need for you to look back at your life with regret and sorrow. I take your presence here today as a signal of your desire to build a better future. I am confident that you have come here for knowledge, guidance and an opportunity to realise your aspirations.

Today’s Youth Development and Career Expo is about social partners working together to build better lives for the young people of South Africa.

Investing in the development of young people is a priority for our government. Government and its social partners are in Tzaneen to introduce some of the many opportunities that exist for South Africa’s youth.

You should leave here with a better understanding of the scarce and critical skills that we need to grow our economy. We have a shortage of engineers, scientists, artisans. That is why government is working to ensure that more young South Africans are able to study at our universities and TVET colleges.

We are leading efforts to strengthen partnerships between TVET colleges in particular and the private sector. We are encouraging companies to offer internships and experiential learning for students at these colleges.

We are guided by our National Youth Policy. It says that we need to progressively introduce free education for poor students until undergraduate level. It says we need to increase the funding options available to support students at post-secondary level who are academically successful but who are unable to complete their studies due to financial hardships.

We will continue to mobilise the private sector, the donor community and society at large to contribute to ensuring that the doors of learning and culture are open to all. We urge those of you who will be enrolled at our universities and TVET colleges to make the best use of these opportunities.

We urge you to focus on your studies and excel. It is your generation that must lead the efforts to deepen social dialogue and tolerance. It is your generation that must say the burning of schools, libraries and lecture halls has no place in our country.

We encourage you to seek volunteer opportunities. We encourage companies and government departments and agencies to absorb young people to develop their skills and improve their working experience.

Work seekers must interact with the Department of Labour and register on the database of the Employment Services of South Africa. Unemployment among young people is a global trend which we must work hard to reverse. Young women constitute the majority of unemployed youth. This cannot continue.

The private sector must do more to empower women in the workplace. Access for young people with disabilities must also be expanded by companies, state agencies and government departments. Entrepreneurship is the heartbeat of a developing economy. Working together, we must reignite the spirit of entrepreneurship that was discouraged by the racist policies of apartheid.

It is our local entrepreneurs who will ultimately create the millions of jobs that we need to grow an inclusive economy. At this Expo, you can gather information about how to start your own business and where you can source funding. We urge you to listen carefully and openly to the advice you are offered today. Think carefully about your passions and your talents and interests.

Learning does not stop when you leave school, college or university, or when you enter the workplace. Make learning a part of your life, throughout your life. Take care of yourself and care for others; respect yourself and respect others. Take responsibility in your personal relationships – as a young man or woman.

So, get wise, get tested, and condomise. And remember, you can always choose to abstain. If you are HIV positive, there is support. With treatment, you can live to see your dreams come to fruition. Avoid any risky behavior, including alcohol abuse and drug abuse.

Work hard, be patient and surround yourself with positive influences. Today is a moment for you to take yourself seriously. Today is a unique opportunity for you to take control of your future. And it is a moment for you to take seriously all the partners that are working very hard to offer you a better life than generations before you had. Information is power. And today, that power is in your hands.

Lastly, I wish all learners in our country, especially those in grade 12, good luck in their examinations. May your hard work and preparation pay off. Those of you who will not succeed this time around, please do not despair. Look out for opportunities for rewriting or for registering for vocational training at our TVET colleges. The more you seek information, the better you will be equipped on how you can turn setbacks into opportunity and ultimately success.

I thank you.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa.