The young people were allowed free rein in the Old Assembly Chamber yesterday when Parliament, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF), hosted the event, where the young people took their seats as members of Parliament.
Seluleko Ndlovu, 17, from Durban, presided over proceedings as Speaker.
Mandela was elected by the National Assembly as the new South Africa’s first president, after Sisulu had nominated him to the position at the first sitting of the democratic Parliament on May 9, 1994.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Lechesa Tsenoli opened the Youth Summit under the theme “a Mandela in every generation”, before handing over the reins.
Seluleko said he was honoured to have led the summit but believed it was not the only way to change things.
“We were given the opportunity to voice the issues we face in our communities and we know that discussing things alone won’t change anything. We are the advocates for change, and having summits will change things but not everything,” he said.
The Youth Summit will run over the next few days, and the youths will visit Robben Island and Table Mountain as they follow Madiba’s footsteps.
Spokesperson for the summit Onkgodisitse Mokonyane said it was an opportunity for the future leaders to visit the areas where Madiba had walked, which is why tourism had played a part, but funding was limited as minders had to be included.
This meant many of the young people who were involved could not attend the Youth Summit.
The youths were given an opportunity to engage MPs, including the UDM's Nqaba Kwankwa and Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, as well as representatives from various Chapter 9 institutions.
Hanekom said he was going to advocate for the summit to become an annual event, as he had been “blown away” by the level of intelligence and eagerness from the young parliamentarians.
NMCF chief executive Sibongile Mkhabela said that two months ago an invitation had been sent to all political parties to send a representative to the summit and it was unfortunate that not all had attended.
Abongile Xhantini from Johannesburg, who has albinism, addressed Kwankwa, who she corrected for referring to people such as her as “suffering” from the condition.
“The point of the summit was to bring together youth who have shown a level of leadership in their own communities and who emulate Tata Mandela’s qualities,” she said.