Solidarity Youth announced this week it is taking legal action against the youth unemployment programme, Yes4Youth, that excludes the white unemployed on the grounds of race.
“Yes4Youth is telling young white unemployed persons like those in Danville that they do not deserve help and that they are privileged, while their black neighbour or even the son or daughter of a wealthy black Sandton businessman apparently needs a kick-start.”
This is how Paul Maritz, the coordinator of Solidarity Youth responded to the exclusion practiced in the Yes4Youth programme. “It is astonishing that government and the companies that associate themselves with the programme believe it is acceptable to discriminate against the poor in society, simply because the colour of their skin is not right,” Maritz said.
At a press conference Solidarity Youth announced that it would take legal action on behalf of one of its members, Danie van der Merwe, who is unemployed and who is excluded from this programme because of his skin colour.
The website, and the Yes initiative, was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March as a partnership with business and organised labour. It was set up to help young South Africans who have been unemployed for longer than six months to find a job.
White ‘second class citizens’
“We believe we have a very strong case in this matter. Absolute exclusion on the basis of race is not and has never been allowed in our constitutional dispensation. We cannot stand by while this is being normalised without fighting it tooth and nail,” Solidarity Deputy General Secretary Werner Human said.
Solidarity Helping Hand also pledged its support for such action, pointing out that there are thousands of Danies among us and that exclusion such as this is making young white people feel unwelcome in the country of their birth.
“Unemployment is not just a figure; it represents a living person who is trying his or her best but who is suffering, not just because of his or her circumstances but who is now also being kicked while on the ground by a government that is treating them like second-class citizens. In addition, figures on poverty in South Africa are bandied about, while all of those unemployed young persons who are being excluded from this programme are poor people, the very people one would have supposed a programme such as this would help – people like Danie van der Merwe,” Solidarity Helping Hand’s Deputy Chief Executive Ernst Vorster, said.