The Moja Research Institute in partnership with the University of Western Cape (UWC) SRC hosted the BRICS Youth Seminar on the 22nd June 2018 at the Western Cape University. The event saw youth people from all walks of life come together to have an effective discussion around the participation of young people in the BRICS bloc. Representatives from the Russian Consulate, the NYDA, the Black Lawyers Association, the UWC student body, the media and general public were in attendance.
The event was a celebration for the Nelson Mandela Centenary and was opened by the SRC of the University of the Western Cape, the treasurer, Mongameli Philiso, of the WCU. The representative of the Russian Consulate, Taisiia Rylova, highlighted the significance of South Africa’s BRICS chairship coinciding with Former President Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.
“The anniversary BRICS Summit in Johannesburg scheduled for the 25-27 of July will mark a decade of concerted efforts of the five countries, efforts that have been yielding tangible results.” Speaking on the youth involvement in the BRICS bloc, Taisiia said: “All such initiatives that engage young people – be it student exchange and scholarships or forums like the BRICS Young Diplomats Forum – are the cornerstones that help us build our common future characterised by strength and stability as well as the convergence of our diverse and vibrant cultures.”
The Moja Research Institute used the platform to launch the SA/China Students Exchange programme. Senior researcher at Moja Institute, Fazlin Fransman, says the SA/China Student exchange programme opens door for young people, giving them the opportunity to benefit from the BRICS collaboration. The Institute also announced that Moja Media is launching the BRICS Channel and the University Channel, which makes out part of the 7 channels that the Institute will be launching in 2018. The aim of the channels is to change the narrative and allow the BRICS countries to tell their own stories in their own voice, stated Moeshfieka Botha, head of the Moja Media.
Chairperson of the NYDA, Sifiso Mtsweni, President of the Black Lawyers Association, Luyolo Mohambehlola and the UWC SRS Treasurer, Mongameli Philiso, were part of the panel discussion led by Moja Institute’s Fazlin Fransman. In his opening remarks, Sifiso highlighted the upcoming BRICS Youth Summit, stating: “The BRICS Youth Seminar will give a voice to young people in BRICS policies, thus it is before the BRICS 10th Summit”. He added that South Africa should use its position in the BRICS Bloc to give opportunities to young people.
Luyolo Mohambehlola, the President of Black Lawyers Association, emphasised that many people do not know what BRICS is and what it stands for, so it’s time for ordinary citizens to be taught about BRICS and how it benefits them. He added: “If policies and opportunities by BRICS are not accessible to ordinary citizens, then it is useless”. On the topic of law, Luyolo proposed the creation of a law student exchange programme in the BRICS Bloc, which will allow students to learn about the law policies in the different countries in order to improve law in South Africa and other BRICS countries.
The discussion was filled with a lot of contribution from the audience, highlighting both dissatisfaction from young people on many issues, including the inclusivity of young people in BRICS related projects and were happy to know that their suggestions will be on the discussion table at the BRICS Youth Summit which will be chaired by the NYDA Chairperson, Sifiso Mtsweni.
An audience member challenged the panel on the topic of access to opportunities without resources, highlighting the high data costs in South Africa. The BRICS Youth Summit will be held ahead of the BRICS 10th Summit, in order for the resolutions of the Summit to be addressed at the 10th Summit.
By Ntsikelelo Kuse