If you have a conversation with anyone today, they will tell you about all the social ills that are afflicting society. If you ask any person who works closely with the youth, they will also lament the state our youth is in and how they are basically not behaving in a way that is helping society.
In the last little while we have been told of horrific acts of barbarism visited upon our defenceless members of society by drug-fuelled youths. Everywhere you go, the most profitable industries are those that sell alcohol and illegal drugs – which in itself tells its own story about the living conditions of the youth, in general. Just drive around towns, villages and townships – you will see a sea of youths hanging around, basically doing nothing.
The long queues that have become a common sight around post offices around the country illustrate the depth of the problem we have in our country. The more than 32.5% unemployment rate and the thousands of people who have basically given up on finding any work is a recipe for a total implosion of our society in the not-so-distant future. Add to the fact that most of the informal sector, that could help absorb the millions of the unemployed, is dominated by foreign nationals which leaves a very small space for the desperate South Africans to penetrate.
Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni on Wednesday announced that the Covid-19 social relief distress grant of R350 will be stopped at the end of April. If you ask any teacher today about pupils of today, they will also tell you sad stories about the bad behaviour and lack of seriousness exhibited by these pupils, especially from schools in the townships and rural areas. They will hasten to add the lack of community support of their efforts in trying to keep these pupils on the straight and narrow. They will never fail to add as well, the assortment of bad behaviour that has crept into this sector that has made many of their schools practically dysfunctional at worst and very difficult to manage at best.
All of these things I have mentioned are the direct result of a lack of purpose among young people. These millions and millions of people in society are drifting on the periphery, have nothing to keep themselves occupied and have little or nothing to aspire to. Now that we have identified the problem – possible solutions and plans to arrest this decline have to be found soon, before a point of no return is reached. Off the top of my head I have two possible avenues that can be explored to try and rehabilitate the youth – sport and extensive public works programmes. In my next column I will go into details as to how this can be done and trust me – it is not that complicated.