Young Leaders In Action

SALGA celebrates the exceptional youth leaders in local government and commemorates the fallen youth of 1976. Lwando Njamela writes.

During the year of 1976,  hundreds and thousands of South African pupils lost their lives in a fight to free the education system and oppose the unjust laws of apartheid. This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the Soweto uprising and the death of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson who was shot and killed during a student protest in Soweto. It was during this time that an exceptional group of youth leaders stepped into the spotlight. Young leaders like the late Teboho “Tsietsi” MacDonald Mashinini were at the pinnacle of freeing the shackles of oppression and represented a threat to the apartheid government. Today, that spirit of leadership among the youth still reigns in South Africa as various political parties entrust the tenacious youth of today to lead, particularly in local government.

Local government officials are important components of social cohesion, they voice all matters that need to be heard by communities to the national government and vice versa. To work in local government as a councillor is demanding and requires great tenacity and broad shoulders because most times when national government doesn’t deliver services to the masses, it is often the councillors that take the blame. That being said, Voice of Local Government wishes to celebrate youth month by featuring some determined servants of local government.

Education Is The Silver Bullet

Full name: Gillion

Surname: Bosman

Age: 30 years old

Province: Western Cape

Social media preference: Facebook  (as Councillor Gillion Bosman)

Political party affiliation: Democratic Alliance (DA)

Profile: Councillor in the City of Cape Town where he works as deputy chairperson of the economy and environment committee; deputy chairperson of the naming and nominations committee; and SALGA delegate to the National Council  of Provinces (NCOP) Western Cape. He has two years of experience in local government and studied education, politics and public administration at the University of Cape Town.

What specific milestones in leadership in local government have you achieved?

One of the big milestones is being able to work with the City of Cape Town’s junior city council, helping the young people to understand how local government works and how it impacts on their daily lives as well as showing them how they can be ambassadors for making sure that local government engages with young people. A second milestone is the opportunity to engage with SALGA and colleagues from other municipalities on issues around the economy and environment and how they affect local government. And another, is finding ways to collaborate to create jobs and improve opportunities for our communities.

What is the one key leadership lesson you would like to share with other young political leaders?

The most important thing – education is the silver bullet! As a young leader, you need to equip yourself with the right tools and knowledge to thrive in the environment you are in. And, it is important for young people to look at leadership in the sense of servant leadership. You shouldn’t ask what you will get out of it, you should be asking, what you can do to serve your community.

We Need To Have Bylaws In Place

Full Name: Stella

Surname: Mondlane

Age: 25 years old

Province: North West

Social media preference: Facebook  (as Stella Mondlane)

Political party affiliation: African  National Congress (ANC)

Profile: Proportional representation (PR) councillor in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality; deputy chair of stakeholders in the same municipality; and  a SALGA delegate to NCOP as well as serving on the public services committee. She studied executive management and project management.

What made you join politics?

I joined politics while I was at school, I think I was in grade 9, through the ANC-affiliated student movement, the Congress of South African Students (Cosas). I was involved in student politics as I’ve always believed that if one needs to have an influence on what is happening in the country then one needs to be active in politics. That way we can enact changes from the inside. Ever since then, I have never looked back.

Talking about Cosas, last year you were quite vocal in fighting the scourge of human trafficking, forced prostitution and drugs that bemoil the North West.

As a PR councillor, what policies do you look to implement in your district municipality to curb that scourge?

I think our policies as a country, not just the province, need to start to become more intense in addressing the challenges we are facing as a country. We face the challenge of the high-influx rate of foreign nationals.

What policies or guidelines do we need to have in place that can control the influx of foreign nationals?

Of course, while we are people of international relations, we must bear in mind that there may be people coming to the country who do not necessarily have good intentions. One of the proposals Cosas made to the Department of Home Affairs was that people entering our country should be scanned so that the department would know what they were up to in their own country. You may find that we are allowing criminals or fugitives to enter South Africa. Discussions are still unfolding in that regard. Taking it down to municipal level involves establishing what municipalities need to do to have a proper database of who is in the city and who is not a citizen. We need to have such bylaws in place.

Youth Must Not Give Up On Their Dreams

Full Name: Goitsemodimo Anna

Surname: Tsele

Age: 25 years old

Province: Gauteng

Social media preference: Facebook (as Anna Tsele)

Political party affiliation: Economic  Freedom Fighters (EFF)

Profile: She is currently a ward councillor in the Mogale City Local Municipality. She joined politics after she matriculated from Thuto Lefa Secondary School in 2012. Tsele was lured by the number of young people in the EFF, but little did she know that one day she would be working for a local government. Tsele is about to enrol at the Wits School of Governance (WSG) for a short-term leadership course to further her education.

What should the three spheres of government do to better our educational system?

Government must embark on a quest to instil the importance of education in the youth, because with education one can go all the way to reach one’s goals. When I engage with the youth, I always tell them how education can better their situations. In high school, I wanted to be an accountant but I ended up in politics, I always use myself as an example. I completed my matric in 2012, but didn’t know what to do and I never gave up, but worked hard to reach my goal. I know many young people don’t know what to do when they finish matric, but the youth must not give up on their dreams.

We Need To Move Away From Issues Of Compliance

Full name: Victoria Elisa

Surname: De Beer

Age: 31 years old

Province: Free State

Social media preference: Facebook (as Victoria Nolwandle De Beer-Mthombeni), Twitter (@victoria_deBeer) and Instagram (@cherrilipzo)

Political affiliation: ANC

Profile: Victoria Elisa de Beer was born in 1987 in the small town of Parys in the Free State. She was schooled at Schonkenville Primary and at Weiveld Agricultural and Hotel School. She studied internal auditing at the Vaal University of Technology and is currently studying Law: Governance and Public Administration at the University of Fort Hare. De Beer worked as a ward councillor in Schonkenville for Ngwathe Municipality, and has also worked for Fezile Dabi District Municipality as a member of the mayoral committee: Finance and Environmental and Health Services. She has served as a regional executive committee member of the ANC and a national executive committee member of the ANC Youth League and is a co-founder of the Youth Unite NGO.

What is your take on local governance? And what should be done to improve the state of local government?

My take on local government is that it’s actually the heart of all the spheres of governance we have. It is directly linked to the masses. Now what I think needs to happen is that we need to look at implementing our policies as bylaws and we should really consider putting our main focus on service delivery rather than looking at corruption, which is what people think of local government. We need to change that stigma. Our main focus must be on service delivery to the masses because sometimes when people protest, they protest for basic services, so why can’t we give them basic services? Why not focus on structural development? Why not do small things such as giving people clean water, fixing leakages and distributing houses. I think we, as local government, need to hold dialogue with our communities.  We need to move away from issues of compliance and start to supply the basic needs of our communities.

Do you think social media is a deterrent or a new tool to engage with the members of the community, particularly the youth?

I think social media is one of the fast-paced  tools for engagement, and as local government, we should use social media, but I don’t see us occupying the social media space. We need to occupy that social media space, but then again, we must also remember that not everyone is on social media, so we must continue to use our normal channels for public participation. Social media mainly reaches young people, so we must find a way to engage with them and also find a way to communicate with the youth in rural areas.

Did You Know

One of the youngest parliamentarians in South Africa is Hlomela Bucwa, 25 years old, who was the former SRC president at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). Bucwa made sweeping remarks about youth empowerment last year during her maiden speech in parliament. She came to politics through the ranks of the Democratic Alliances Student Organisation (DASO). Another young member of parliament is also a former DASO and SRC member from NMMU, Yusuf Cassim. He made his debut in parliament at the age of 24 years in 2014.

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