The Trouble With Youth Leagues

Oct 27, 11 The Trouble With Youth Leagues

Posted by in Featured, Politics

Cosatu announced recentlythat it is starting its own youth wing. Cosatu Young Workers will target youth, particularly those in learnerships through Setas, who they feel are being exploited. The cut-off age will be 40. Yet another youth league. That brings to… well, many the number of youth wings in South Africa. Youth leagues ostensibly set up to give the youth a say in how organisations work and, at least if the ANC is to be believed, to provide a platform for the leaders of the future to learn and develop. This makes some kind of sense. They also (ostensibly) provide a platform for youth to test out their radical, revolutionary ideas before they get into real politics. They’re meant to be a place for radical hoodie-wearing teenagers who want to overthrow the government to deal with their angst before they get to make decisions that affect people’s lives. The problem comes when youth leagues include everyone under the age of 35 or 40. Particularly when most of the people in the country are under the age of 35 or 40. South Africa’s population bubble is in the 20s. We’re not Japan. Our majority is not aging out of the working system, they’re 20-something, pissed off and looking for work. And the current system has put them in the same small box as the 30-somethings who have finally managed to find a minimum wage job (if they’re lucky) and are still clamouring for respect in every other respect. And it places all of them at the kids table, sitting in a corner watching the grown-ups make the decisions. Youth leagues provide a platform for the perspectives of a small but important group when they represent the voices of the minority. When most people are classified as youth, this set-up provides a nice, safe, easy way to shut ‘youth’ issues out mainstream national politics – like a slightly less grossly unequal economy and people having jobs . ‘Youth issues’ are given a separate, distinct and less...

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One Wonders, What’s Next?

Feb 23, 11 One Wonders, What’s Next?

Posted by in International, Politics

We are in the second month of 2011 and one wonders, what else is the world in store for. In the last last couple of weeks, Egypt, Libya, Iran and Yemen have erupted into chaos. Citizens have to gone to the streets demanding that their leaders step down. On average these leaders have been in power for over twenty years. All this occurring as the world is still reeling from the news of civil unrest in Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire. One thing stands out, the people of Africa and the Middle East are ready for change. They have forced it on leaders who still thought the had another term in office. They are ready to enjoy their civil rights of living in a free un-oppressive state where they are no longer beholden to the whims and insecurities of their presidents. There has been some success, Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali were ousted. On the other hand Laurent Gbagbo still holds obstinately to ‘his’ office. The issue is that these leaders feel entitled to their position of leadership. It stopped being about serving the people of the country a long time ago, if it ever was. On the 17th of February 2011, Yuweri Museveni the president of Uganda for 25 years as of this year was quoted asking: “Why are people so agitated? The economy has grown, we’ve brought peace…” This indicates the general apathy certain leaders have towards democracy. He actually still believes he has ‘unfinished business’. This sounds so familiar, wasn’t Mubarak concerned that if he stepped down, Egypt would descend into chaos, as if the already looted capital did not demonstrate that the chaos he feared was already underway. For all the disdain some might have for democracy, it carries out an important task. Leaders are prevented from believing that they are the only factor that ensures development and stability. Even if they do, democratic practice dictates that one should not be in power for more than two terms. For the...

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Judging By the People

We approach seventeen years of democracy in South Africa (SA) with the question of whether the selection of judges to the various courts (Constitutional and Supreme courts) should be inclusive of public opinion. Currently, the position stands where the president of SA can appoint or remove: the Chief Justice, judges of appeal, the judge president, the deputy judge president, and all judges of the Supreme Court who are fit and proper. The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) presents its opinion to the state president for matters relating to the president and deputy president of the Supreme Court; and in matters of removing said judges, the matter must be raised in both Houses of Parliament. The JSC is responsible for drawing up a list of candidates for the state president to choose a judge from, it is understood that this body enjoys a degree of independence to elect candidates to the judiciary. However, its composition is anything but that; its members range from representatives of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, and the president of the Supreme Court of Appeal. The JSC as it stands is far from the independent structures it claims to hail from. SA prefers a system of representative democracy whereby the different political parties are elected to the legislature filling a number of seats that are proportionate to the results of the election, with the party trusted to place members to the legislature. The United States (US) uses a truer stand of democracy with most of its Parliamentary members elected directly by the People and its results determine the proportion of each party in Parliament. As such, the US uses a set of confirmation hearings to confirm the president’s choice to the judiciary. Indeed, this confirmation is done by Parliament and could be said to be very similar to that of SA’s JSC. However, the People can object to the appointment of the candidate. In the case of Sotomayor J, she was asked (publicly) in the confirmation hearings on...

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Democracy or not democracy…

Democracy has many proponents, and probably as many (if not more) opponents; its efficacy is debated and legitimacy often disputed. Churchill is even quoted as saying “[t]he best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”. Of course one’s repost could equally come from Churchill: “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” The system has been seen to function to a greater or lesser extent in Europe and the United States, and a number of former British colonies, it must be said. This however begs the question: is democracy truly the best political system for Africa? Western democracy poses a multitude of difficulties in Africa, and has seen the rise of numerous spurious democracies One of the many fair measures of democracy is Samuel P. Huntington’s “two turnover test”, where the consolidation of a democracy takes place if “the party or group that takes power in the initial election at the time of transition loses a subsequent election and turns over power to those election winners, and if those election winners then peacefully turn over power to the winners of a later election.” Thus far it is only Mauritius and Ghana that conform to these requirements; the financial hub of Africa, South Africa, is far from passing such a test and is actually facing tests that undermine the fundamentals of democracy, such as the Information Protection Bill and a belligerent ANC Youth League leader that is screaming nationalisation of industry and trying to sneak in a rider that private property might be subject to non-negotiable government speculation. We may see Malema calm down for a while post-NGC, but fundamental discrepancies exist in South Africa that are not being seen to be attended to by normal democratic and capitalist means. While for Churchill options may not have existed, today East Asia proffers up an alternative, one which has facilitated the meteoric rise of...

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