What is your passion?
My passion is varied, I can’t really say I’m passionate about one thing per se. However, I am passionate about two things: The abolishing of the exploitative nature of our economic system- which is capitalism. I am a passionate Marxist-Leninist, which is committed to the struggles of the working people. Secondly, I am passionate about education transformation and youth development through educational means. Those are my fundamental passions which of course have their own underlying passions as well. But I’m more into the socio-political development of the youth and workers in general. Even more so, I am very passionate about education transformation, I am of the view that education is the primary tool at the hands of the poor to self-liberation, especially an education system which allows the poor to self-emancipate themselves from psychological neo-colonial thinking. But also I am very much passionate about Economics. It fascinates me as a discipline of study and as a system, so I am also studying towards a qualification in B.Admin Economics. I have recently been awarded by Stellenbosch University and Die Burger 2015 Young Economist 2015, yes that has been a highlight.
What change are you keen to drive?
That’s a tricky one. The problems of the youth in South Africa are interconnected. Crime, inequality and joblessness are all indirectly connected to crisis of a class divided society in terms of wealth distribution. But even more so, they are connected to the minimal access to education. Therefore, the change that I seek to drive is not a sectorial change. But have a holistic approach from different spectrums of the challenges we face as South Africa, the core crisis of our problem is the structural set up of our economic system. I am saying so, because it governs even the content we are taught at school. Therefore, the change I want to drive is a change that is centered on the people’s self-determination from a socio-economic perspective. Politics and education alone cannot be the driving force for change, People must be motive forces of change through being conscious of the fundamental enemy which is capitalism. I want to be able to help people be conscious enough to understand they’re their own liberators. Hence my Nickname Commissar (meaning a military political educator) from the political sphere.
How are you driving change?
Well, as Activators we drive change in many different ways. However, considering who and how I am, I have chosen to drive change through political and human right and youth movement’s activism. I am a member of various political organizations and youth movements, through my participation in these movement, I believe I am driving change. But since I joined the network, I am exposed to other elements of political and social interactions to drive change. Youth Dialogues and other mechanism have also being introduced to. Also, I am delegate to the One Young World Summit in Bangkok. Which is also a platform to drive change in the global arena. So basically I’m saying, there are stagnant ways that I stick to, to drive change, all effective tools at our disposal must be utilized.
How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?
Activate has played a critical role in helping drive change in the sense that, it has opened opportunities for me to drive change from a different perspective and different type of youth that has similar ideals as me. It has also assisted me with a capacity to be able drive change outside my comfort zone which is politics but I am able to branch into arts, creative writing, etc. Therefore, the capacity building role that Activate has played cannot be compared to anything else. For an example, I have been meaning to start my own consulting company for some time, but because of the capacity that Activate brings out of a person I now have an Activator who is willing to help me put that down so the plan can be a reality. So more than anything else, Activate has grown from a leadership perspective and has provided me with the necessary support system.
What do you think is the priority in setting the agenda for our country in the next 5 years?
I think the main priorities with setting the agenda for our country in the next 5 years, should start with state capacity building in the developing itself as a developing country that has capacity for self-sustenance. We cannot run away from the fact that as South Africa we do not exist in isolation from global economic system. This requires a number of things, I will mention 3: Education system, The country needs to invest more in education, not just infrastructure but the content of education. We need to create an education system that is responsive to the unique challenges of South African society, a system where a child who gets out a technical school does not feel they are obligated to go to varsity in order to be something. An education system that is uniform and accessible to everyone. Further, as a country we play a more active role in the governance of Higher Education institution, we must not create ivory towers out of these institutions. they must be people’s institutions for people’s power! Secondly, the country’s capacity to manage and administer itself must be a priority, it cannot be correct that our country today is still on a back lock on doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers and economists and they must consult with private sector. The state need to re-capacitate itself with all the relevant administrative tool so as it can be effective in delivering services to its citizens. Lastly, there needs to be paradigm shift in wealth redistribution. The inequality gap is just unacceptance, yes! We understand that is a product of 3 centuries worth of segregation. But the state, must be begin to take more radical measures in rectifying injustices of the past. Our economic system, especially our Macroeconomic policy, must focus more industrialization with and aim to also expand our services sector so as to be able export more and increase our Gross National Income. Therefore, I think that’s where our priorities should be focused then we can be in a position to respond to the question of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
How do you motivate yourself?
I motivate myself by envying other Activators making wave around the country. I am just joking! But I guess, my background and home environment remain one of my key motivations. From where I come from, I come from a family of 5 boys and I being the middle one. So, it has always be a competitive at home, I got to learn to be self-motivated from a young age. Seeing my older brothers not reaching certain things because of circumstances has not only motivated me but remains a burning fire inside me to be a better person. Having being raised by grandparents.That are not anywhere near being rich or being a well-respected family. I wake up every day and say, “Because of me, the Maneli name will be known respected not only here but all over the world”, that statement keeps me going. That’s what drives me, for my grandmother to pass from this earth having said my grandson is a Doctor and she has seen beyond the shackles of poverty and destitution. That’s what motivates me.
Well, firstly thank you for the opportunity and further thanks to Activate for having me as well as part of their network. Activators, I once said this in at the second module training. “There’s no worst punishment which we could give to our children than the punishment of allowing them to inherit the kind of South Africa we live in. If we dare fail our generational mission, our kids and generations thereafter, would piss on top of our graves”. We have a responsibility, each one of us and collectively out of our relative obscurity, have to find our mission, fulfil it or betray it. Lest we be judged harshly by history! Thank you
This has been such a wonderful experience. Again I really appreciate the opportunity