In 2014, South Africa will be celebrating 20 years since the formal end of apartheid segregationist rule where only the white minority enjoyed political freedom and the rest of the black population was for the most part oppressed. The youth consultation on the 2
High Level Dialogue on Governance and Democracy in Africa: Trends, Challenges and Prospects
could therefore not have come at a more poignant time as the country starts to look back on the past 20 years to celebrate the achievements and gains made, but also to start thinking critically about ways to solve some of the most pressing challenges in the country which includes corruption, gender based violence and economic and racial inequality. In this short position paper we report on qualitative interviews with young South Africans from across different racial groups, genders and geographical locations. In undertaking the research, we were guided by a number of questions aiming to unpack the extent to which democracy has been consolidated for everyone to enjoy in South Africa:
How has democracy faired in South Africa over the last five years?
Do young people take active part in the democratic processes in South Africa?
Is the rule of law adhered to in South Africa or are the laws modified possibly to suit the government?
Do young people believe that elections in South Africa are free and fair and that elected leaders represent the wishes of the people?
Are there constitutional impediments that limit the participation of young South Africans in the electoral and democratic processes in South Africa? The interviews were conducted in November, 2013 in a number of different places in South Africa encapsulating rural, peri-urban and urban settings. Many of the participants interviewed were not English first language speakers, in such cases they were interviewed in their home language (e.g. isiXhosa) with their responses being translated to English. In the cases where there was no direct translation, the closest version in English is provided.
Figure 1 Young South Africans completing youth consultation questionnaire during the youth consultation in November 2013, South Africa. Pic: Baxolise Siseko Dlali
“[Democracy] is the treatment of
all people equally irrespective of
how they may differ” –
18 year old male, South Africa.