SAWIP participants express their views on South African issues

BRADLEY TJONGARERO AND MARKO SVICEVIC
The participants of the South Africa – Washington International Programme (SAWIP) recently completed six weeks of the seven-month programme in Washington DC. They were able to gain exposure to various institutions including the United Nations headquarters in New York, the World Bank and the Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
Participants from UP included Charné Janse van Rensburg, a 5th-year medical student Tumelo Mohale, who is currently studying BCom Taxation, and Siphosethu Mpungose and Michael Reinders, who are both studying LLB degrees.
According to the SAWIP website, the mission of the programme aims “to inspire, develop and support diverse new generations of emerging South African leaders to be active in bringing about social and economic transformation and justice within a sustainable democracy”.

The program in itself spans for seven months, during which participants are exposed to various kinds of challenges that enable them to develop specific skills, especially in areas of leadership, community engagement and professional work exposure. Apart from UP, the other participants were selected from a host of other South African Universities, including the University of Cape Town, the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Western Cape and the Stellenbosch University.
According to SAWIP, during their training with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the participants focused on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and its impact on South African issues.
Reflecting on the AFSC session Micheal Reinders said, “The sessions with AFSC were a good reminder to me of the importance of the journey I am on with SAWIP and that everything that I learn here should be purposeful and aimed towards helping my community and South Africa as a whole.”
Siphosethu Mpungose adds that “it is critical that engagement with diverse thoughts and ideas, and as a result, the questioning of what is known to be the norm, be seen as a rebellion that has a meaningful purpose in that it concerns itself with the constitution of freedom, as any meaningful rebellion should”.
Mpungose adds, “that the spirit behind it, is one that seeks to change the nervous condition of the black child and all others who are marginalised – like women, LGBTIAQ+ persons, immigrants, etc.”
When writing about the human trafficking in South Africa, Charné Janse van Rensburg expresses a dire need for the relevant authorities and stakeholders to take the necessary actions. Janse van Rensburg says, “We have a global obligation to consistently defend human rights, but the universal declaration becomes very abstract if it isn’t actively used to empower and protect all humans.”
Similarly, when reflecting on leadership in Africa, Tumelo Mohale said that, “If Africa’s institutions are strong, it is fairly certain we shall have favourable externalities.”
Mohale explained that “The current leadership in governments as well as the emergence of Africa’s new wave of youth leaders need to work towards having environments [that] improve people’s propensity to be part of the economy and contribute towards the continent’s success.”
The last phase of the programme requires the participants to apply the experiences and skills they have developed in a community engagement project in Olievenhoutsbosch.

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