Youth need to do more to strengthen democracy and human rights in the African continent, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Friday.
“While a lot of progress has been registered since Africa was emancipated from the clutches of colonialism, a lot more still needs to be done in the areas of democracy and human rights,” she said in notes prepared for delivery.
“It is my sincere belief that building and supporting strong institutions 1/8that are 3/8 supporting democracy is one of the... pillars that will ensure that the African dream is never again derailed or deferred.”
Madonsela was speaking at the official opening of the University of Pretoria's masters' degree in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa.
She said the “Arab Spring” had significantly changed the political landscape of Africa and the Middle East.
“What we now refer to as the 'Arab Spring' is a response to, among others, these more recent challenges,” she said.
“You'd know that it all started with a young man in Tunisia who had had enough of bad governance or maladministration and its impact on his ability to engage in meaningful economic activity and accordingly live a dignified life.”
Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010, in protest at the confiscation of his stock by municipal workers.
Madonsela said the revolution came at a “heavy price”, including thousands of deaths.
“From our office here in South Africa we can give many examples of acting as a catalyst for systemic change. An area where my office has without doubt, served as a catalyst is the area of government procurement,” she said.
“We used among others, government leasing irregularities to highlight this area as causing enormous financial losses to the state and to advise on urgent action. It is gratifying to see that my findings were taken seriously.”
She said she was encouraged by the students' resolve to participate in the masters' programme.
“It gives me and others hope that this beautiful continent's future rests not only on the shoulders of its political leaders but also on informed and hopefully ethical leaders that you will become.” - Sapa