- HON.Members, this year’s theme “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth” has important considerations for South Africa.
- The term “demographic dividend,” HON. Members, infers the decline in mortality and fertility rates promotes accelerated economic growth. Therefore, the substantial decline in fertility will enable us to achieve economic growth as the smaller young dependent population grows in relation to the working-age population.
- HON.Members, having an obstetrics level 3, which is 38 deaths per 100 000 as the former MDG 5 target for South Africa, our rate of ±300 deaths per 100 000 requires us to commit decisively to invest in voluntary family planning.
- This is as a result significant increase in Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) are attributed to direct obstetric causes, causes aggravated by pregnancy, HIV infection and incidental causes unrelated to pregnancy.
- HON. Members, the less people our government has to support, the more the window of opportunity for rapid economic growth with the right social and economic policies developed and investments made.
- The connection between the demographic dividend and the investment in voluntary family planning does provide the serious challenge in achieving a demographic dividend and the need for immediate action.
- Hon. Members, we have to do more to encourage smaller families to contribute to improved child survival, as well as, investing in the high numbers of young people who have great economic potential. However, this requires adequate investment in their health and education and to stimulate new economic opportunities for them.
- The achievement of a demographic transition, HON. Members, requires the provision, aside from family planning, information and services on how to delay the age at first birth which would also slow population growth.
- HON. Members, critical to harnessing the demographic dividend, is empowering our youth to identify and develop their creative talents. Also, by empowering themselves, young people can work towards the social issues of substance abuse, sexuality, HIV/Aids and teenage pregnancy.
- We must invest in leadership and entrepreneurial skills for our youth to enable them to face the future with confidence and play a more meaningful role in building society.
- The Minority Front is committed to youth reintegration through mentorship of youth development leaders, and offers career guidance in the areas of skills shortages. HON. Members, we only can do so much within budgetary constraints. Therefore, the investment of more funds will go a long way in initiating SMME training programmes whereby more scholarships, bursaries and artisan training can be promoted. I would welcome any funding in this regard to harness the demographic dividend by investing in our youth.
Shameen Thakur- Rajbansi
Minority Front MPL KZN Legislature
Debated by: Hon. Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi
Minority Front Leader (KZN Legislature)