Wednesday, 30 October 2013 16:11

YouthLab Re-imagining South Africa

Written by Ryan Swano
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In 2014 South Africans will go to the national election polls for the 5th time and for the "Born-frees" it will be their very first time voting. With so many different voting systems the world over, questions have been raised about whether there are models of voting that can move South Africa forward from a fledgling democracy, to a mature democracy that reflects our future.
This is but one of the many questions discussed by participants in YouthLab when they host their 'Re-imagining SA' events.
Youth Lab was created by a group of young South Africans to be a non-partisan connector. In the same way that a bridge, for all its strength, is a passive connector, this organisation aims to be a way for young people to be able to make their voices heard.
 
According to Tessa Dooms, one of the founding executive members of YouthLab, when looking back upon the youth activism of the 1970's & 80's it is alarmingly clear that there is a disconnect between politics and the youth of today.
She continues: "Without being accusatory toward them, in order for the freedom enjoyed by today's youth to be meaningful in any way, the youth need to engage the politics of the day to ensure that they live in the kind of democracy they and future generations can be proud of."
 
Youth Lab aims to create spaces for young people to significantly increase their understanding and engagement on policy and socio-economic issues that directly affect them, with the objective of increasing the Youth’s voice and participation, and the nation’s consideration of youth efforts, in policy definition and implementation.
 
A registered non-profit company (NPC), Youthlab's main aim is Empowerment by creating a platform for young people to have open discussions with political parties, policy-makers and other people of influence.
In educating young people on key issues of policy, society and economics in South Africa the vision is to empower them to become citizens actively involved in tackling the economic and political issues our country faces.
 
Youthlab also aims to provide a platform for other stakeholders to have access to an accurate point of view on the youth perspective, directly from the youth.
 
They aims to achieve their vision through the following ways:
 
• Facilitating discussion and lectures through face-to-face and digital events, forums, and discussion papers
• Providing a single access point to youth thought-leadership, ideas, analysis and critiques
• Developing policy and informing policymakers about youth position on key issues
 
Their long-term vision is to be part of the group of organisations consulted by government, business, civil society and other organisations on the stances of young South Africans on socio-political issues.
 

Re-imagining South Africa: Electoral Reform Dialogue
In their latest series of YouthLab events entitled Re-imagining South Africa: Electoral Reform Dialogue, YouthLab invites young South Africans to lead the conversation, to take the initiative to Re-imagine South African politics and motivate for the electoral system you believe will get us to that vision. This event brings together young people from different backgrounds, with election practitioners, constitutional experts and political commentators to engage ideas about the future of South African politics and electoral system.
 
Key questions that this dialogue will address are:
 
- What is our evaluation of the current state of political engagement and democracy in South Africa?
- What are the visions and aspirations of young South Africans regarding politics and electoral systems?
- Is the current electoral system adequate to bring to fruition your vision for South African politics? 
- What are the different electoral models implemented in other countries?
- Which, if any, electoral systems should South Africa consider going forward?
 
Panelists include Ebrahim Fakir from the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa (EISA) as well as Sean Garcia, a Political Officer at the US Embassy.
 
The first of these events are planned for Johannesburg 07 November 2013 5:30pm to 8:30pm at Lillies Leaf Centre 7 George Avenue Jhb and Cape Town on 14 November 2013 5:30pm to 8:30pm District 6 Museum 25A Buitenkant Street Cpt.
 
RSVPS can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Inquiries can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
 
Events are also in the pipeline for other major centres, says Ms Gugulethu Mlungu, YouthLab Executive Head - Communications & PR, and although it is not currently feasible, YouthLab is working on plans to involve the youth from rural areas as musch as possible in the future acknowlegeing that they are a much neglected and overlooked portion of the population.
 
We at bruinou.com suggest that if you are among the youth who want to have a say in the political future of the country or even if you do not consider yourself to be youthful any longer, please consider the impact that this initiative can have on the long-term future of our country, ways in which you can become involved with YouthLab and invite as many young persons and youth organisations to participate in YouthLab.

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