ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, UNDP, and the IEC launch an Elections campaign in Gauteng ahead of the 2024 National Elections. #WeAreVoting
By Paul Mabote for ACTIVATE! Change Drivers
On Saturday the 3rd of June 2023, Kagiso Extension 12 Community Hall in the West Rand, Gauteng, was the venue for the powerful activation of a much-needed campaign with the hashtag #WeAreVoting.
The nationwide campaign is the result of a strategic collaboration between the youth network ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP South Africa), and IEC South Africa. These stakeholders have the shared vision of seeing young South Africans having increased knowledge on the Civic and Policy matters of their country, and eagerly lacing up their shoes and taking to the ballots to make their crucial voices heard come the 2024 National Elections. This article is the summary of the activation.
You could hear a pin drop at the event, as ACTIVATE! Change Drivers executive director and head of the Civic Education Programme Tebogo Suping addressed the multi-generational audience. “Our country is going into shambles,” she said. “We are constantly navigating a myriad of challenges as citizens of South Africa, including the ongoing energy crisis. There is not a number of tyres that we can burn that will generate electricity. Politicians make it as though voting is for them and not for you and that is a myth. Voting is for you and when you do not show up to vote, it only makes them sing and dance because it benefits them, putting control in their hands and taking it away from yours.”
Activating the masses
Rammolotsi Sothoane and Lerato Mahoyi were the program directors of the event, introducing the different speakers as they graced the stage and kept the atmosphere engaging and intriguing.
ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ training manager Sibongile Segobola acknowledged the audience and elaborated on the different programs that are run by ACTIVATE! Including Generation G which mainly focuses on issues around Gender Based Violence. “I keep young for a living,” she stated. “…in my many years of training several cohorts of Change Drivers, I have come to learn that young people are not a problem and they do not need to be fixed, they only need to be heard and acknowledged.”
#WeAreVoting is the phrase that was read across the bright T-shirts worn by everyone in attendance, which was also the hashtag used to push the event and campaign on social media.
We are not voting
IEC official Thato Mabele unpacked in detail the role of the IEC in a very heated and engaging session. He also highlighted the difficult challenges faced by his organization in trying to bring voters’ education to the different masses in society.
He said “I have personally approached the leadership of schools to request time to educate scholars on the voting process and I have been turned away time and again. The reasons stated being the hectic academic schedules. The same goes for church organizations and ordinary people on the street. This is a simple sign that our nation is indifferent towards voting, a sore reality which I hope and believe that events such as this one can eventually change.”
Mr. Bongani Matomela is head of Governance at UNDP South Africa. Addressing the audience, he explained that the UNDP got into a partnership with ACTIVATE! Change Drivers about five years ago. “We are very excited to come across an organization that is led by young people and empowers young people. Civic Education is very important in South Africa where the population is mainly young but the number of young registered voters is extremely low. Our hope in partnering with such a radical organization is that we will encourage young people to take charge of their destiny and tackle the serious issues such as unemployment and inequality that are present in the country.”
Following a brief tea break, there was a multi-stakeholder interactive session which also involved the presentation of opportunities to the young people in attendance. The session featured representatives from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the office of the Gauteng Premier, the local youth development organization MUYO, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, a local youth activist as well as the chairperson of SASCO from UJ, Soweto campus – It was heated. Questions that came from the audience pertained to the red-taped access to NYDA services as well as the disturbing issue of violence in schools, among others.
Lessons from the class of ’76
Seth Mazibuko is a speaker and author who is well-known for belonging to the history-making generation of 1976. He spoke at the event in a way that showed the young generation what a task and responsibility lies on their shoulders if South Africa is going to be a better place. He said “I am here to give you wisdom! It is time you got out of the bedroom and got into the boardroom. Out of clubs and into classrooms. The government will not give you your daily bread, it is time you became your own baker and made your own bread which you can enjoy daily!”
The attendees enjoyed entertainment sessions in intervals from artists Okolom and Paso and Fosh Pilato. Thamsamqa Masingi, who leads ACTIVATE’s Policy Education Programme provided a fitting closing to the event, saying “ At the end of the day, we need to vote for people who represent our constituency and our interests. It is not only about which party won the elections but also about holding that particular party accountable to fulfill the contents of their manifesto beyond the elections. Your vote, your power!”
About the author:Paul Mabote is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change drivers writers hub, a creative artist, and storyteller and a member of the ACTIVATE! Network.
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