“When youth participate in the democracy and development of their countries, then Africa will be set to claim the 21st century”, Kingsley Y. Amoako, Ghanaian-born international civil servant and diplomat who led the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Indeed public participation is a fundamental part of any democracy and allows for the strengthening and maturing of democracies.
In the South African context, our Constitution emphasises the importance of active involvement and participation by citizens. The relationship between government and citizens is very important. Ultimately government is accountable to citizens for decisions taken – at a macro level, at a community level and at an individual level.
At a macro level public accountability is exercised through oversight by public representatives in the legislative arm of government. At a community level government should consult and involve communities in discussion about projects and programmes that directly affect them. At an individual level citizens have the right to hold government to account for, and get reasons for government decisions that directly affect them.
According to the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa accountability is ‘hand in glove’ with the duty that comes with the elected privilege of serving the people and is the bedrock of true democracy and effective governance.
Without accountability and transparency, democracy is impossible. In their absence, elections and the notion of the will of the people have no meaning, and government has the potential to become arbitrary and self-serving.
It is clear, therefore, that young people as members of the South African have a role to play as active citizens who understand how to voice their interests, act collectively and hold public officials accountable. Young people are a major force in the contemporary world and are often at the forefront of global, social, economic and political developments.
The context of youth participation forms the basis of the next ACTIVATE! Exchange, a series of events and facilitated dialogues, that take place throughout the year. They provide a platform to discuss what young people are doing to create change and what can be done to support them.
This series taking place in 3 venues in 3 provinces (Johannesburg,Gauteng; Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town, Western Cape) on the same day will explore the question of public accountability and how young people can contribute to it. On the panel, members of the ACTIVATE! network will be joined with prominent businessmen and civil society.
Seats are limited, to book please send your name, organisation and city to Candice at firstname.lastname@example.org