Lindiwe Mazibuko recently visited investors in the City of Roses and engaged with them regarding the current political and economic climate for our country. The former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader was talking at an exclusive PSG Asset Management session on the South African political and economic landscape, following the outcome of the May 2019 National Elections, which was held at the Windmill Casino.
Mazibuko took the audience back to 2016, when she had just graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America. “I had been invited to stay on as a fellow at the institute of politics, and one of our duties as fellows was to teach a class, so I designed a curriculum called: How to build a democracy – lessons from South Africa. And the purpose of that class was to teach students from Europe, the United States and Asia who don’t live in emerging democracies what’s it’s like for those of us who serve in public office or have served in public office to be building constitutional laws and democratic norms while entrenching democracy in societies that are still emerging from either conflict or unjust systems of government,” she explained.
Through this course she was able to invite a series of great guest speakers to her class. “And one of the unintended consequences from this class was something I did not expect, other students from other universities in Boston, which has about 50 universities or so, would show up if a leader from their country was speaking, they would stand in the back of the classroom and they would ask their leader if they should come back to their home countries to serve them or not.”
This experience gave Mazibuko insight into the extent to which young people are interested in serving in public office. “The main challenge they are facing is they don’t know where to begin. They think of politics as this sort of ‘secret society’ and in many ways it has been painted that way. And so it was at Harvard that the seed was planted for an organisation called Apolitical Academy.”
The Apolitical Academy is a tech platform for public servants all over the world which provides public servants, people working in government at all levels, with the information and the tools with which to connect with one another, share ideas and learn about each other’s successes and failures in policy making, but particularly in policy frontier making. “We empower civil servants in about 160 countries. We started it in October 2017, our first class started in October 2018 and they will be graduating in July, so what Apolitical Academy is a leadership development programme, we support on a nonpartisan basis 25 talented mostly young people, but also people from the private sector and outside organisations who are committed to running or serving a government or running for public office and don’t know where to begin,” concluded Mazibuko.