South Africa’s Minister of Small Business Development joined edutainment show, WOKE, with Sonia and Dali at the Ekurhuleni Economic Youth Summit broadcasting live from Birchwood Hotel in Ekurhuleni.
Minister Zulu touched on a number of issues affecting young people, including access to opportunities, education and the youth being the voice that will inspire other young people for their development.
As far as business opportunities and procurement processes for youth-owned businesses, she laments that they still have a long way to go but that systems are in place.
“We’re far from what we are supposed to do. But, the Department of Small Business Development [has said] that 50% of our programmes have to go to women and we are on record and ensuring that that happens. Both of our agencies SEDA and SEFA also have that. 30% of our programmes have to go to young people and we are on record as a Department , ensuring that that 30% procurement does go to youth-owned businesses and black, in particular.”
She adds that the Department is unapologetic about putting previously disadvantaged people at the top of the list. “We can generalise and say youth but we are very clear and unapologetic about it…we need to give young black people an opportunity because their parents never had an opportunity.”
According to the Minister, she says that young people have no lack of ideas and innovations to improve their current standing. “There’s a lot of creativity and innovation among young people,” she adds.
Structures that are supposed to be supportive of the youth “must put themselves in the shoes of the youth and understand them and do things on the basis of what the youth want, rather than us thinking about what we want,” she explained.
Minister Zulu also highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship and how it is a priority for the number of different governmental institutions. “The future is about entrepreneurship; the future is about innovation; the future is about science and technology, the future is really steeped in young people taking responsibility”.
Emotions got a bit high when the topic of violence and violent protests was raised, with the Minister sharing that her heart bleeds when she sees reports of a school and/or clinic and hospital burning.
The Minister also added that she does not agree with the narrative that young people are being destructive as a result of not having something else to do.
“I don’t think young people are waiting to go and burn something somewhere. “We feel the frustrations that young people feel and [in 1976] we felt it and we did what we needed to do, at the time, because the space, at the time, demanded that we do it that way. But, the youth of today can’t say that because the youth of ’76 burnt things, they want to burn things as well because [they] have a different government - [they] hold us accountable.”
The Minister added “there has to be some political education and an understanding of the journey of where we are going to and where we come from”.
She also advised that young people need to be the voice to inspire other young people to go about things the right way, and send the right messages to them, to effect the right kind of change, rather than being violent.