PARLIAMENT’S agriculture, forestry and fisheries portfolio committee chairman Mlungisi "Lulu” Johnson spoke out against the contentious youth wage subsidy at a meeting in Nelson Mandela Bay last night.
Addressing a group of about 50 youths at New Brighton’s Nangoza Jebe Hall, Johnson labelled the subsidy a tool which would only serve to benefit the private sector.
He had been invited to speak at the Coega Development Agency’s monthly Coega Business Forum, which was centred around the upcoming Youth Day.
Johnson’s comments came just hours after the DA led a march in Pietermaritzburg where DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko called on KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize to implement the youth wage subsidy.
Mazibuko said the subsidy would help alleviate high levels of youth unemployment in the country.
"As a young person I know there are many young people without jobs and opportunities to work. The youth subsidy needs to be supported.”
The march, which went off without a hitch, followed a similar march in Johannesburg last month which turned violent after DA supporters marched to Cosatu headquarters.
Johnson said the wage subsidy was a "big no-no”.
"A big no to the youth wage subsidy, but a big yes to the private sector committing to programmes which talk development and employment creation, among other challenges that are facing our youth today,” he said.
Addressing the crowd on the challenges facing the youth and possible solutions, Johnson said the private sector should start delivering on programmes related to youth development.
"Until now the private sector has found it easy when talking about any form of commitment towards empowering the youth, but the youth wage subsidy in a nutshell is not a solution.
"The private sector will benefit through the state coming on board to subsidise it. It’s [the subsidy] not going to be a sustainable initiative,” he said.
Coega spokesman Ayanda Vilakazi said the meeting came at a critical time for the youth and was an opportunity to debate and share information. Additional reporting by Sapa