KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has urged all the young people of the province to prioritise education, use contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancy, avoid drug and alcohol abuse, and get empowered to start their own businesses.

The premier was speaking on Sunday during the 43rd anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Uprising (Youth Commemoration Day), themed “25 Years of Democracy: Celebrating Youth Activism.”

“Our message to the youth of South Africa is clear and simple. The future of the country belongs to them, and it is upon them to make our future bright and successful.
“We have to work together to address the high level of unemployment, and to do that we must address the challenges of skills, and the education system. We encourage all young people to take education seriously, and to ensure that they prioritise skills that are relevant to the economy of our country,” said Zikalala.

Zikalala said they are working with the private sector to ensure that opportunities are created for young people to get employed, and also to start their own businesses.

“As government we will continue with efforts of ensuring youth participation in the economy of the country. We launched the Youth Business Development Fund, which we are still going to support even now going forward. We are saying to the youth, let them seize this opportunity and create more jobs for young people,” he said.

The premier also turned his attention to social ills such as substance abuse and teenage pregnancy, and urged young people to meet government’s youth development efforts halfway by changing their own behaviour.

“The first problem that is ruining the lives of the youth is the whole issue of drugs, and substance abuse. We believe that young people must prioritise themselves. They must look after themselves. They must not think that the short-term entertainment is the solution. But they must focus on uplifting their lives, and ensure that they become prosperous,” said Zikalala.

“The issue of teenage pregnancy is affecting us in many communities. It is because of that that we encourage young people to abstain, also those who are engaged in sexual activities, if they do so, let them protect themselves through the use of condoms.

“For us, the clear message is abstinence.
And that is the message that we are sending to all young people of our province,” he added.