Fellow social activist Mayihlome Tshwete, told CNBC Africa,“I’ve been interacting with a lot of young people on social media and some of them are even first time voters, and they’ve been saying they’re out there voting for the ANC. With relation to the ANC’s policy, there’s a lot there. The ANC is committed to be ensuring that about 70 per cent of government’s business is going towards youth-owned companies.”
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“Apart from the business aspect of it, there’s also a lot of work that the ANC is doing with regard to universities and Further Education Training colleges, and strengthening those aspects to make sure that our youth are skilled and are more employable to go into the market. I have a lot of faith in the ANC’s youth policy, even transformation policy, and that I don’t see in any other party’s policies.”
Of the millions going to the polls on Wednesday, among them will be a number of ‘born frees’, a large percentage of young people that were born in 1994, at the cusp of South Africa’s democracy and governmental role of the ANC. Today, the youth form the larger percentage of the country’s unemployment rate.
“The message being sent to born frees is ‘you’re free, forget about the past, let’s just keep it moving’, and the reality is that there is no such thing as keeping it moving. Parties will talk about how there’s 40 per cent unemployment; we don’t mention that it’s 40 per cent unemployment for black people, seven per cent unemployment for white people,” said Shaka Sisulu, public speaker and social activist.
“Even when it comes down to our dire straits, there’s complete inequality. We are acting as if we’re just going to move out of the situation of an orchestrated segregation. It was not just racial, it was economic.”
Sisulu added that the ANC has therefore been taking the effects of the past’s institutionalised inequalities to the forefront of its policies, and taking South Africa’s developing economy towards growth. This is all while applying redress.
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“The reason that you found that between ’94 and 2008, South Africa had the longest period of sustained uninterrupted growth up until the world recession, was because the ANC had thoroughly considered its options,” Sisulu explained.
“You’d find people on the right, the left and you’d find there’s always these different extremes pushing and pulling, and suddenly there’s almost a moderate centre being found. The reason that is, is because people understand that it’s not just a situation of saying ‘let’s go take everything back’”.
Some of the policies of redress include Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment and the Restitution of Land Rights Act. More recently, government has embarked on a programme to provide a National Health Insurance scheme for South Africans across the board.
“If you look at what has been achieved in the past 20 years, [they] exist in different spheres: government has focused itself on building more skills, more hospitals, [and] what’s going to be the success of the National Health Insurance is going to be huge, especially for the ordinary South African who private healthcare for them is something that they’ll never see. That’s happening in terms of social infrastructure that government currently are rolling out,” Tshwete explained.
“It’s also happening in the sense of business. All these things, government is doing and some of them have produced great results. We are products of those policies.”
Despite the ANC’s policy frameworks of inclusivity and equality, sectors such as poor education, healthcare and high unemployment continue to ratchet, and poke gaping holes in the very policies implemented to address them.
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“You can’t expect government and the ANC to be the manufacturer of that inclusiveness. Many of us feel that the private sector hasn’t come to the party in this aspect. The ANC in 1994 had a number of financial restraints that [prevented them from] doing a number of social programmes,” said Tshwete.
“Some of this rhetoric is used by a number of parties, but the reality is that we do function on a very restrained fiscus. Unless we are working harder on other ways to start expanding our revenue streams for our fiscus, then making those types of promises is a danger in itself.”