Let’s have a frank conversation. How often do you keep with parliament? Outside of the occasional parliamentary scuffle or the President’s annual State of the Nation Address, do you know what goes on inside the chambers of South Africa’s biggest law-making body? You should. Sure, it’s not the most inviting of places but that doesn’t make it any less important. The bills passed in the parliament’s corridors have an immediate impact on both the economy and the way we live our lives. Maybe it’s time we all started caring a little more.
It’s time to get involved
Parliament isn’t as exclusive as some people think. In fact, with the exception of matters that deal with state security, you can sit in on parliamentary proceedings. But not just that. You’re involvement isn’t just limited to passive observing; you can have a direct say in the law-making process. The public can make attend public hearings before bills are passed and while they’re being amended. You can also make submission to parliament’s portfolio committees to present your views on a bill that’s being reviewed in parliament. And that’s what we should be aiming towards, don’t you think? Getting youth opinion, our voices, heard and considered in parliament. It’s definitely not going to happen on its own. The average age of MPs in parliament is 50. The only way we’ll have an active seat in parliament is if we pursue it. So how are we doing that? We’re glad you asked.
Taking news outside parliament’s corridors
For the past six months, we’ve had our reporters stationed in parliament to offer a youth perspective on the happenings of parliament. During that time, we’ve reported on parliament’s plan to decriminalise consensual adolescent sex, interviewed MPs Phumzile van Damme (DA), Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (EFF) and Mzwandile Masina (ANC). We were also in thick of things at during this year’s State of Nation Address. The point? To break down the barrier between young people and parliament. But we’re taking things a step further now. We’ll be hosting a debate series with members of major parties who are represented in parliament. This is where you can interrogate them on their party policies and interact on whether they’re delivering on their promises.
Getting the youth voice inside parliament
We’re not just taking news outside of parliament, we’re working on getting you (yes, you, don’t look so surprised) inside parliament. We’re looking for you to suggest youth issues or policy ideas that you think would benefit young South Africans. The winning entrant will be supported by Live SA and political experts to turn their idea into a submission to present to a parliamentary committee!
So be sure to keep in touch. Follow us on Twitter for more updates and, who knows? Maybe we’ll be seeing you down the corridors of parliament soon.Live from Parliament casts a youth lens on parliament and government, covering committees, policy-making, MPs, and the sitting of actual Parliament. Our team of youth journalists report Live from Parliament every week in partnership with the People’s Assembly and Making All Voices Count.
The People’s Assembly connects people and their elected representatives. To stay in touch with your local MP, visit www.pa.org.za, follow them on Twitter @PeoplesAssem_SA or Facebook/PeoplesAssemblySA.