I AM not surprised by how South Africans have responded in their numbers to the suggestion by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that the government will not issue houses to people younger than 40. Many have argued that this proposal is not fair, as those who are younger than 40 are the ones most affected by poverty, unemployment and inequality.
They might have a point, as we all know that the youth in particular are affected by this crisis. But there is another side of the coin that should be looked at instead of just dismissing this proposal. In SA, education is not fashionable among many young people; many young girls resort to having many babies so they can receive government grants. This can’t be allowed to go on forever.
It is high time young people took their future seriously; clearly a person who is younger than 40 has had many opportunities to go to school and better themselves. We cannot afford a situation in which young people just accept the fact that they will remain poor, and so feel the government owes them a Reconstruction and Development Programme house. In the end, this will promote passive citizens who wait for the government to provide for them while folding their arms.
Free housing was introduced to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable in society. Our government provides no-fee schools and the National Students Financial Aid Scheme — opportunities that must be seized, instead of relying on grants.
But I will also advise the government (if it goes ahead with the proposal) not to use the one-size-fits-all approach. It must consider those who have no other means but for the government to provide for them.