South African Member of Parliament Ms Fikile Masiko has informed the Forum of Young Parliamentarians that the South African Parliament is in the process of establishing a young Parliamentarians’ caucus, as per the request of the Inter-Parliament Union (IPU).
“We are at the conceptualisation phase of the establishment of this youth caucus. We have developed the concept document. We are circulating it currently to the different political parties and within the youth cohort to start discussions and to take the process forward,” she said.
Ms Masiko has also detailed how the South African Parliament has adopted the Electoral Amendment Bill, which paves a way for young independent candidates who wish to participate in national and provincial elections.
The Forum of Young Parliamentarians met on the sidelines of the 146th IPU Assembly to provide a youth perspective on the assembly’s theme, along with the two draft resolutions to be adopted. These resolutions are: Parliamentary efforts in achieving negative carbon balances of forests; and Cyberattacks and cybercrimes: The new risks to global security.
The Standing Committee on Peace and International Security and the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development are currently considering the resolutions clause by clause. The inputs made by the forum were submitted to the committees for consideration before the final resolutions are tabled before the Assembly for adoption.
Ms Masiko stated that although the Bill provides for the requirements and qualifications that must be met by persons who wish to be registered as independent candidates, it is too early to speculate on whether the Bill will be able to attract young people to involve themselves in the democratic discourse. “Though we know that we should be running campaigns that will allow young people to be able to stand as independent candidates for elections,” she acknowledged.
Ms Masiko informed the forum that currently in the South African Parliament, young people constitute just under five per cent of parliamentarians in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. As for parliamentary committees, she said, “… only four are being chaired by young people under the age of forty-five. Male parliamentarians outnumber the female counterparts in every age group,” she said.
Arising from the lack of constitutional or legislative youth quotas in terms of South Africa’s Constitution, any person who is qualified to vote during the national elections is eligible to be a Member of Parliament. “This means the responsibility therefore lies with the respective political parties to nominate young people to serve in the South African Parliament,” Ms Masiko explained.
The Youth Forum also appointed its new President, Mr Dan Carden, a delegate from the United Kingdom’s Parliament.
Ms Masiko congratulated Mr Carden on behalf of all the young people of South Africa and young parliamentarians. “We wish to send our words of congratulations to you, wishing you well for your term of office. We are willing and ready as the young parliamentarians of South Africa to give you our support wherever it is needed,” she said.
14 March 2023