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YOUNG South Africans are increasingly being encouraged by politicians to play an active role in infrastructure development by working in construction and starting their own companies. But those who have taken the initiative to start cooperatives and small businesses say they need funding and resources to tackle big projects — and these are in short supply.
The Department of Human Settlements’ National Youth Brigade was launched in Sedibeng this month showcasing young people involved in the Savannah City building project, an 18,000-unit mixed-residential housing development.
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the youth brigade will harness the energy of the youth to bring themselves out of the cycle of poverty.
The youth brigade will also participate in other "mega projects" around the country, including the N2 Gateway in Cape Town, the Lephalale City development in Limpopo and Anglo American Platinum’s Rustenburg project in the North West.
By next April the department hopes to have recruited 2,000 young people into the programme, and 10,000 participants by 2019.
Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says the government will prioritise youth business in its procurement processes.
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is steering young people to the brigade to receive training while the National Home Builders Registration Council provides training in construction and property development.
Masite Moletsane, 29, says his co-operative, Ervhila General Traders, clinched a R10m project through the youth brigade to turn a Midvaal municipal property in Vanderbijlpark into a student accommodation facility. He says his business needs a faster way to access funding to acquire the equipment to get started on the project.
"We want to get the best of everything from here, and to render services. We are not sitting and waiting for things to happen," Mr Moletsane says. "We need equipment for the projects that we have gotten.
"People have complained about the R1,125 stipend we are getting here, but we are okay. We need to find funding to complete our projects," Mr Moletsane says.
The Department of Human Settlements pays National Youth Brigade participants the monthly stipend for six months.
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Source: Business Day