N 2012, the Cabinet adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) the long-term vision for South Africa. It serves as a blueprint for the work that needs to be done to achieve a prosperous society. To enhance the implementation of the plan, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in June introduced the NDP 2030 brand ambassador programme, with selected NDP ambassadors promoting awareness of the brand and its chapters, building stakeholder relationships in the private and public sector, and encourage and inspire South Africans to play their part as well. The NDP aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. This plan envisions a South Africa where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work.
Realising such a society will require a transformation of the economy and focused efforts to build the country’s capabilities. To eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, the economy must grow faster and in ways that benefit all South Africans. In particular, young people deserve better educational and economic opportunities. As main beneficiaries and drivers of the NDP, it is important that we have conversations about the importance of young people’s roles in the implementation of the NDP. Today’s societies need to create new opportunities for conversations to codevelop solutions to address development challenges. As the NDP outcomes are being implemented, the government and its partner organisations should actively engage to shape the involvement of young people. Similar to many developing countries, South Africa has a large population of young people. Those between the ages 15-34 represent 36.2% of the total population, according to Stats SA (2016). This signifies that youth involvement in the implementation of the NDP is crucial. According to the 2015 Afrobarometer survey results, 55% of surveyed South African youth say they are “somewhat” or “very” interested in public affairs and 73% discuss politics at least “occasionally”. If youth participation will get deliberate attention, the number of interested young people could increase. Young people are the “now” of our country and pivotal players in tackling national development issues. If youth is taken more seriously, young people could be playing a key role in decision-making processes at all levels. Young people are active drivers of change in local communities. They have a role in engaging people at the grass-roots level and a role in communicating the NDP goals to a wider society. Youth-led organisations need to have space and recognition to participate in the implementation, monitoring and review of the NDP. Young people need structured mechanisms for their participation in the NDP through various decision-making platforms. Ideally, youth participation in decisionmaking must be done in a consultative and co-creational manner, especially in areas that have a clear impact on young people. With the right political commitment and adequate funding, young people can fulfil their roles as active citizens and, in that way, make the most effective transformation of the world into a better place for all. Youth organisations can furthermore play a significant role in the NDP 2030 vision by mobilising more young people in developing a sense of ownership and awareness about the challenges they face. They also could leverage collective action and attitudinal changes in environmental protection or sustainable consumption patterns, and they could enhance the effectiveness of peace and development efforts through participatory forms of monitoring and accountability. It is imperative that youth from all parts of South Africa participate actively (and are enabled to) at all levels of decision-making with regard to the implementation of the NDP because it affects their lives today and has implications for their futures. In addition to their knowledgeable contribution and ability to mobilise support, youth bring unique perspectives. Therefore, it is essential to formulate a substantial development agenda including the NDP 2030 outcomes that shall emphasise the role that youth should play to achieve a developed South Africa. Young people have a strong voice and they could be better served by local and national institutions, with more robust and youth-friendly policies to attract young people, meet their needs comfortably and responsively. Young people must also have access to economic and social opportunities to share economic growth, live healthy lives, and contribute towards building a diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity. The role of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) ensures that all major stakeholders; the government, the private sector and civil society, prioritise youth development and contribute towards identifying and implementing lasting solutions which address youth development challenges. Therefore, in order to achieve the NDP 2030 outcomes, the NYDA needs to be an active player. It must be at the forefront of encouraging and helping youth to acquire knowledge and skills to promote national development and tackle youth issues.
The NYDA’s National Youth Service & Skills Development budget of R55.2m must be used effectively for this. On matters of protecting and enhancing our environmental assets and natural resources (NDP Outcome 10), the NYDA must lead youth involvement in the transition to an environmentally sustainable, climate-change resilient, low carbon economy and just society. To achieve this, the NYDA must form partnerships with all stakeholders and organise programmes that can equip young people with the right skills to implement resilient agricultural practices to eradicate hunger in their communities. Development-orientated policies that support productive activities, decent job creation and entrepreneurship and innovation are key to the success for the NDP implementation. The NYDA as a nationally-funded institution should continue to lead in this regard as outlined in its mission statement. The AU African Youth Charter identifies young people as “partners and a prerequisite for sustainable development and for peace and prosperity of Africa”. Various stakeholders across the continent are developing and revising youth strategies and policies, hence there is a need for youth and relevant stakeholders to collaborate. It is the time to get beyond lofty rhetoric and ensure young people are part of the inclusive development agenda and consultation. Young people must be seen as serious partners in the implementation of the NDP. Gugu Nonjinge is a communications and advocacy officer at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliations