Youth Imbizo dialogue cancelled due to lack of venue

Bhuti Manamela.

A handful of young people from Gugulethu and surrounding areas were left angry and disappointed when a youth imbizo which was to be addressed by the Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Bhuti Manamela, was called off at the last minute.

The youth had gathered at the Gugulethu Sports Complex Hall on Thursday August 24 to attend the youth dialogue imbizo, but after waiting for hours for the event to start, they were informed that it had been cancelled.

The poorly attended imbizo was aimed at giving young people an opportunity to raise their concerns and ask critical questions about the government’s plans to address youth-related matters.

Event organisers said the imbizo had to be cancelled because they did not have permission to use the hall.

But mayoral committee member for area central, Siyabulela Mamkeli, said a meeting had been disrupted at the same venue the evening before the imbizo was scheduled to take place.

Mr Mamkeli said because of this and previous disruptions, the event organisers were requested to use another venue which was prepared and ready for them. However, imbizo organisers refused this option and opted to cancel the event instead.

The dialogue was intended to focus on leadership, education and entrepreneurship while providing youth with information about government services targeted at them. Various stakeholders such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Eskom and youth community organisations were to be part of the event. However, Thandi Matshoba, who is a member of Parliament and was an organiser of the event, told young people that they could not secure permission from the relevant authorities to use the venue.

She said after a long and intense meeting with the authorities, they were unable to reach an agreement and as a result, they were left with no choice, but to cancel the imbizo. The news was met with heckles and disapproval from the crowd.

Ms Matshoba accused the provincial government of not having humanity and lacking respect for black people. She claimed that the Western Cape government did not care about the needs of the people hence they denied them permission to use the venue. “My heart is broken and sore. We have been planning this event for months. I promise you that we will host this event again and next we will make it a point that we get the venue no matter what. Please do not be angry at me and it was not my own making. I don’teven know how to look at you because of embarrassment,” she said.

Deputy chairperson of the ANC Youth League in Ward 40, Ana Makaleni, said she was disappointed that the event had be to cancelled after waiting for hours for it to start. The 22-year-old said the event was going to provide them with the rare opportunity to raise their challenges and concerns as young people directly to the deputy minister.

She said the youth unemployment rate was still high and young people found themselves battling to make ends meet. She said they want the government to unlock opportunities for young people and to support young budding business people by making the necessary resources available to them. Ms Makaleni said she hoped that the imbizo would be organised again and it would not just be an event where they raise their issues and nothing happens afterwards. “We sincerely hope that this event would be organised again. We are not a lost generation but we need the assistance of the government. These youth agencies that claim to represent us are not visible in the township where the majority of young people are. We can’t access institutions of higher learning because fees are expensive,” she said.

A Grade 12 pupil from Fezeka High School, Lisa Tyingwa, said she was upset that the imbizo had been cancelled because as a matriculant she was keen to engage with the deputy minister and other stakeholders at the event. She said she hopes that they plan the event accordingly next time to avoid cancellations.