Youth sign declaration to become IEC ambassadors

Thursday, February 19, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - Young South Africans from different backgrounds have signed a declaration to become Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Youth Ambassadors with the aim of deepening democracy through peer mobilisation.

According to the declaration signed on Thursday, the ambassadors will be the IEC's champions by way of promoting electoral democracy driven activities in their respective areas of influence through various initiatives.

Speaking to the youth ambassadors shortly after they signed the declaration, IEC Chief Electoral Officer, Adv Pansy Tlakula said they should take their responsibilities seriously while interacting with their peers about the importance of participating in the electoral process.

"As the IEC, we take impartiality seriously and it is our hope that you will spread a neutral message to your peers. You must also be careful not to participate in political party activities," she said.

Advocate Tlakula said the ambassadors would have a defined role which complemented the implementation of the IEC communication strategy in terms of the "call to action" phase which is campaign driven.

The ambassadors are youth between the ages of 18 and 35 and they represent the diversity of the country.

In total, the Commission is planning to elect 110 youth ambassadors, 20 at national level and 10 from each of the country's nine provinces.

Some of the criteria used to select a youth ambassador included their willingness to commit to the vision and guiding principles of the IEC, be available to perform the roles and responsibilities of youth ambassadors nationally for at least 12 months and to communicate with integrity at all levels of social structures.

The ambassadors are also expected to not be involved in active political activity, including using their platform to campaign for a political party during the tenure of their membership.

Adv Tlakula was proud to announce 18 eligible and willing young South Africans who have taken the pledge as pioneers of the programme, among them were television presenters, sport icons and motivational speakers.

Television series presenter, poet and actress, Lebo Mashile said although their selection came as a surprise since they never considered themselves worthy to become the country's young ambassadors, they were looking forward to do what is expected from them.

"We are aware that young people prefer to drag their feet when it comes to going to the polls. However, since they look upon us as their role models, we are committed to do our utmost best to inspire and make them develop a change of heart and go to the polls in large numbers," she said.

South African swimmer, Natalie du Toit, told BuaNews as a youth ambassador, she was committed to deepen the country's democracy through encouraging more young people to realise the importance of participating in elections.

Motivational speaker, Linda Ntuli described his selection as a wonderful opportunity which he will use to make young people realise the importance of making their voice heard through their secret votes.

"I would like to see young people realise that in order to have a well-respected democratic country, they should be in the forefront of the electoral processes," he said.

Jonathan Ramotsei from Soweto TV said he was taking the responsibility of being a youth ambassador with pride and confidence.

The only female member of the hip-hop group, Skwatta Kamp, Refiloe "Relo" Tsotetsi said she would use the group's performances to encourage young South Africans to deepen their hard fought democracy by participating in the elections.