'The youth are trapped in poverty' - Zakes Bantwini to meet Tito Mboweni

05 October 2020 - 15:33 By cebelihle bhengu
Zakes Bantwini says his meeting with finance minister Tito Mboweni is a matter of public interest.
Zakes Bantwini says his meeting with finance minister Tito Mboweni is a matter of public interest.
Image: Jessica Levitt

Singer Zakes Bantwini says his meeting with finance minister Tito Mboweni will address issues affecting the youth, including the impact of Covid-19, unemployment and debt.

The musician trended on Twitter at the weekend after he reached out to Mboweni and asked for his time to address matters which are “of public interest”. Scores backed Zakes, with the minister eventually agreeing to a meeting scheduled for Saturday.

His calls come after a Stats SA report last week revealed that 2.2 million South Africans had lost their jobs during the height of the lockdown. 

Speaking to TshisaLIVE on Monday, Zakes said support from the public proved that South Africans can unite behind a common goal.

“I was very happy to see the response on Twitter. I have a group of fans on WhatsApp called the ghetto family. That group has more than 200 people in it. I called on them first for support and when the public joined the cause, that made me happy, because it says we can unite about things that affect us all.

“It’s not true that we not support each other, we just don't participate in things that don't represent us,” he said.

Zakes said while he no longer identifies as a young person, he is all too familiar with the plight of young, black South Africans from his hometown of KwaMashu, Durban, and his employees, who are all younger than 28 years old. 

“It's the smallest things that one may not pay attention to, but they actually stagnate the youth. Take, for example, the issue of black tax. One person has to take care of their family before they can focus on themselves, and this will not end in this system which traps people into poverty.”

He said some are unable to be fully productive at work because they live too far away from their workplace. Zakes said this is not by coincidence.

“It hardly happens that everyone in the same household is successful, it tells you that it is systematic. It has to do with apartheid policies,” he said.

Zakes said he received some backlash from people who did not understand what he was trying to achieve. He said it is important for young people to understand that they can also ask for meetings with public servants about issues they are unhappy about.

“I received backlash from people saying I wanted special treatment, not knowing that this thing is enshrined in the constitution. What is wrong with meeting people? I encourage young people to understand that they can meet anyone they want to meet.”

He said this right is not only exclusive to celebrities.

“In SA people are calling out celebrities for being silent about burning issues, but they don't understand that they can take a stand as well,” he said.

The singer said he would share the outcomes of the meeting on Twitter. He emphasised that his meeting is only a start and that more work still lies ahead.

“This is not over by a long shot. If young people think I will come out of there with the answers they are looking for, that will not happen yet. This is very little action in the grand scheme of things,” he said.