#UPYouthMonth: Young people should not only have a seat at the table, they should also be part of the conversation – UP master’s student and former SRC president David Kabwa

Posted on June 11, 2021

Former University of Pretoria Student Representative Council president and current master’s student David Kabwa, who was selected as one of the trainees in the African Union Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security’s African Youth for Transitional Justice programme, talks about the programme and why young people deserve a seat at the table.

What is the African Youth for Transitional Justice training programme about?

The African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) was unanimously adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 12 February 2019. The Policy defines transitional justice as the various (formal and traditional or non-formal) policy measures and institutional mechanisms that societies, through an inclusive consultative process, adopt in order to overcome past violations, divisions, and inequalities and to create conditions for both security and democratic and socio-economic transformation. The African Union Commission commenced a programme for African youth tagged ‘African Youth for Transitional Justice’ (AY4TJ). The programme encompassed the training of young people on transitional justice in general and the African Transitional Justice Policy in particular.

Where did you learn about the programme?

I learnt about the programme from the African Union website. Eight hundred and forty  applications were received with only two trainees chosen per country. I consider it a privilege to be representing South Africa on a continental platform such as this. I am grateful to have been recognised by the African Union Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security.

When did the training take place?

The training took place from 31 May to 2 June 2021. Further contact sessions are being organised before youth are deployed to assist in transitional justice processes across Africa.

Why is a programme of this nature important?

To answer this, I will quote from material provided: “Across the continent, the exclusion of young peoples from key governance decisions that affect their lives creates huge deficits in democratic governance, threatens social order, and exacerbates generational tensions. Africa’s youths have become increasingly disenchanted with authoritarian leaders and ineffective governance structures thereby leading to popular uprising in several African countries.” It is important to ensure that young people not only have a seat at the table but are part of the conversation. As the largest contingent of the African population, young people play a key role in the growth and future of the continent.

What does Youth Month mean to you?

Youth Month is both a call for reflection and a call to action. As young people, it is important that we reflect on how far we have come. To appreciate those that have come before us, those that have paved the way and those upon whose shoulders we stand. Moreover, it is important that we learn from their mistakes and ensure that we do not repeat them. Youth month is a call to action as our contemporary society is proof that we still have a long way to go. It is therefore important that we maintain our vigour and fervour in a constructive manner.

How is the programme going to help make a difference in society?

The young people that have been trained in the programme are now a part of the AY4TJ. This means that we now have youth that are experts in the AUTJP and transitional justice in general who will form part of transitional justice teams deployed by the African Union to facilitate transitional justice in Africa as the situation demands in AU member states at a national level. Moreover, this programme places an emphasis on restorative justice as opposed to solely punitive justice according to the rule of law.

Why is it important to help others?

Society does not operate in isolation. We are connected in some way or another. Assisting your fellow man should be the norm not the exception. Many tragedies can be traced to a disregard for one’s fellow man at some point. When one normalises the degradation of another, it erodes the societal bonds that we share. It is therefore important to help one another as it makes a contribution to building a better society for us all. I always like to say it is important for us to build bridges so that those that come after us may walk across them.

- Author Mecayla Maseka

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