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Mobilizing Youth Participating in South Africa through the 5X5 #UnitingYouth Campaign

Ahead of South Africa’s 2019 National and Provincial Elections, it is important to ensure young citizens across the country are engaged in decision making processes and committed to advancing democracy. In South Africa right now, dynamic youth participation in civic, socio-economic and political affairs/processes is related to whether young people will turn up to register and vote.

Sixty percent of South Africa’s 57 million population is under the age of 35.  A disengaged and socio-economically disenfranchised youth population leads to growing apathy and frustration with electoral processes —resulting in the election of governments with political mandates that are not representative of issues most important to youth. Given the marginal participation of youth in decision making, the urgency to tackle the challenges of young people through legislation and implementation will be further eroded.

The 5X5 campaign was launched to attract young citizens to be part of decision making and advancing democracy. A combination of students and unemployed youth form part of the core 5X5 #UnitingYouth South Africa team, who are working to mobilize youth voters ahead of the 2019 elections. The 5X5 campaign was my response and possible solution to curb youth apathy on the African continent. The 5X5 campaign was first implemented in Zimbabwe, thereafter in Botswana and now in South Africa by Generation Democracy alum Mantate Mlotshwa, Rebaone Mmereki and I respectively

The campaign is centered on having youth identify five other peers to engage in a process, a catalytic structure critical to help build an advocacy campaign. 5X5 has become a moment in a sense, led by Generation Democracy members in Sub-Saharan Africa to unite youth to understand legislation, be active citizens whom are informed, act as community activators and be exemplary leaders of the global community.

I developed the 5X5 strategy during the Generation Democracy Regional Leadership Conference hosted by the International Republic Institute in South Africa in 2017. This Academy and my participation in the subsequent Generation Democracy Global Summit helped me refine the strategy in a manner that can be implemented worldwide. The 2017 Vienna Declaration, an output of the Generation Democracy Global Summit, also provided me with a framework to help implement the 5X5 campaign. 

The 5X5 campaign ultimately aims to

  • Unite young people behind common experienced issues;
  • Drive those issues to local, regional, provincial and national decision-making platforms;
  • Collaborate and partner for identifying solutions to issues;
  • Advocate for youth activism and participation;
  • Increase the number of youth who register;
  • Increase the number of youth who vote;
  • Increase the number of youth who campaign and run for elected office;
  • Advocate for youth to be present in decision making platforms;
  • Advocate for political parties to initiate/ activate 30 percent of their public representatives to be those between 18 – 35 years of age; and
  • Advocate for collaboration with Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, Non-Profit Organizations, Private Businesses, Influential Individuals/ Industry Leaders, Private Individuals.

 

As part of the campaign in South Africa, we also analyze South Africa’s National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the youth policy positions of the 13 political parties represented in our National Assembly and how legislation can contribute to advancing the youth agenda. Analyzing the NYDA and political party positions/stances is an introduction to empowering youth to engage with the offers pertaining to their future, to participate in decision making by registering to vote for sound policy that contributes to advancing the aspirations of young people. It’s about participating in shaping the country we will inherit from our elders.

Together, members of the Generation Democracy network are scaling movements like 5X5, to help mobilize young people to play a more active role in decision-making processes. 

We are Generation Democracy!