2,9-Million South Africans excluded from work opportunities

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2,9-Million South Africans excluded from work opportunities

People of South Africa

We are gathered here today because communities across the country in villages, towns and cities have called on RISE Mzansi to take on their plight for jobs and opportunities. These are jobs and opportunities, primarily within government, which arbitrarily exclude people over the age of 35.

South Africans over the age of 35, are people who are generally in the middle of building lives for themselves, who carry the burden of caring for their own children or the children of their relatives, and their elderly parents. Many of these people are single mothers.

Because of this exclusion, there are 2,9-million people aged between 36 and 44, who are of prime working age who are unable to access jobs and skills opportunities. They are forced into a life of poverty. At best they are able to get temporary jobs that pay little, or create informal work that does  not enable them to put food on the table for their families or build a home of their own.

In many instances they are forced to rely on the old age grant of their elderly parents; meaning that they are left with absolutely nothing when their parents sadly pass on.

This exclusion, which communities have described as “ageism”, means that adults are forced into a life of indignity where they either live in the same four-roomed home as their elderly parents; or they are forced to share a single backroom with their teenage children, depriving them of privacy and the agency that should come with being an adult.

People of South Africa,

Regardless of your age, RISE Mzansi stands in solidarity with you. If you are capable and able to work, you should not be abandoned by your government. We have taken up this fight for you; and we will continue to take this fight to the National Assembly and the 9 Provincial Legislatures when new leaders are elected to serve you.

We are picketing to advance and advocate for more inclusionary programmes that arrest the neglect and discrimination by the ANC government against jobs for over 35s. 

RISE Mzansi values equality, and as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act,

 “no person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against an employee, in any employment policy or practice, on one or more grounds, including age …”.

RISE Mzansi therefore demands that this apply to the current government employment and skills programmes.

People of South Africa,

RISE Mzansi demands that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure lifts the age restriction of 18-35 in the Expanded Public Works Programme.

Our family members and communities deserve to be part of such programmes.

Beneficiaries of the EPWP scheme receive more than just wages as they are formalised into the economy and also qualify for UIF, and in some places like uMgungundlovu District Municipality, they also quality for provident and pension funds.

The neglected and “legacy youth”, those over 35-years-old, who are barred from participating in this programme, reach a pensionable age without having any form of pension fund or productive assets and wealth to transfer to their children.

People of South Africa,

A person who was 30 in 1994 is now 60-years-old, and completely missed out on the chance for formalised employment and a pension fund, owing to their age.

This also doubles the burden and cost of care of the legacy youth who are currently unemployed and over 35, and who take care of our elders.

As RISE Mzansi we want to put an end to these vicious cycle of trapping millions in poverty.

RISE Mzansi demands that the Department of Higher Education and Training lift the age restriction of 18-35 in the Skills Training and Learnership Programmes.

In a rapidly advancing digital world, even persons in formal employment have to constantly train in new skills and take part in learnership programmes. A government programme such as SETA, which administers training and learnership, cuts out a whole generation of job seekers who are over 35.

Jobs are hard enough to find, and unemployment will increase if job seekers over 35 are barred from receiving any form of skills training and work experience to match.

This is a secondary form of discrimination for those that have been historically excluded and have now also reached the age of 35.

People of South Africa,

We need new leaders with experience, with values and with a plan to build the safe, prosperous, equal, and united South Africa.

The South Africa we all deserve must benefit all South Africans – young and old.

In 57 days, on 29 May, we must vote for new leaders who care and understand the implications of the decisions that they make.

We must leave here, and go back to our communities and let them know that RISE Mzansi has the new leaders who will fight for their dignity and their right to work, even if they are older than 35. Go back to you communities and let them know that we all stood here at the Department of Labour and Employment to liberate them from disastrous exclusionary jobs and skills policies. Go back to you communities and tell them that RISE Mzansi will fight for them. I RISE. We RISE. Together, we RISE!

Ndiyabulela! Thank you!

Remarks by Songezo Zibi

RISE Mzansi National Leader

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