Taking up the struggle against corruption

Corruption is rarely ever seen as a youth struggle. Corruption Watch took up this challenge by bringing together young people from across South Africa to contribute to their youth strategy and  take what they learned from their youth survey forward. 

The month of June celebrates young South Africans while the 16th is used to commemorate the youth of 1976.In the lead-up to Youth Month, Corruption Watch undertook a youth survey which it hoped would inform their future youth interaction. Over 6 000 participants between the ages of 14 and 34 took part in the survey, which revealed that:

  • Young people perceive the police, transport and licencing to be the most corrupt departments, followed by Home Affairs;
  • 26% of young people feel that corruption hampers their access to basic services, and
  • 22 % see corruption as hindering their job prospects.

On the 16 June 2014, Corruption Watch used the survey as a basis to bring together a diverse group of youth from across the country. Organisations such as ACTIVATE! Change Drivers; Equal Education; Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ), together with university students and high school learners.

According to Ronald Menoe, Corruption Watch’s head of stakeholder management, “Corruption Watch is engaging with young people, so that the, especially those affected by corruption, can contribute to the development of the organisation’s youth strategy and inform us on methods to be used”.

Corruption Watch sees youth as central in the fight against corruption, because youth are seen to have a stronger sense of what’s ‘wrong’ and ‘right’- as older people have generally needed to do more to get by.  Youth are trendsetters in most communities this influence means they have a greater potential to drive change. These are all very important features of the youth demographic that could be useful for the work Corruption Watch does.

Executive Director of Corruption Watch, David Lewis, says “young people are concerned about corruption and want to do something about it. S,o we see the youth strategy that will be developed with you [participants at the gathering] as a potential vehicle through which they can take action”. 

Amongst those present, there was a sense that the lack of faith in public institutions and this is a major hindrance in the fight against corruption. “Because I know the police where I come from, I honestly have very little faith that any corruption I report will be taken seriously”, said one participant, drawing a lot of agreement from others present.

Participants were taken through a process, where they identified which corruption issue they feel is a huge concern for them. Procurement at local government level, licencing and youth development funding were amongst the issues that came up tops. They were then tasked with developing campaigns to address these concerns – after being given a quick guide to what makes a campaign successful.

The ideas developed ranged from apps to simple campaigns that depended solely on word of mouth. Innovation was a key feature in the development of the campaigns – with a common thread of identifying what has traditionally been seen as ‘big people’s problems’ to young people as co-owners too.

Lerato Mahoyi (25), facilitator at ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, expressed great excitement about the process saying, “It was a great platform for young people to be heard on an issue we are often excluded from. An important realisation for me anda lesson I keep coming across is that corruption isn’t just about institutions and others ‘out there’. It’s about an individual, what they do with what they know and their everyday actions”.

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