David Kabwa, Student Representative Council (SRC) president and political sciences honours student at the University of Pretoria (UP) was elected as the first African Prime Minister of the 10th Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP) which was held in Delhi, India between 24 and 29 November 2019.

The youth parliament was hosted by the Delhi Legislative Assembly and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. To be eligible for the CYP, applicants must be either a youth leader within the Youth Parliament or a leader within the legislature that falls within the age group of what the CPA considers as a youth. Applicants are required to submit a letter of motivation and curriculum vitae to a selection panel at the legislature. The event equips young people with early exposure to politics and how parliamentary processes work. It provides the opportunity to formulate discussions with institutions that underline values pertaining to good governance.

The event is restricted to individuals from Commonwealth countries. Participants of the event are nominated by their country’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) branch. Over 14 countries were represented which ranged from Wales to the Bahamas. Every year, the Gauteng legislature sends representatives to the CYP to represent South Africa. Kabwa explains that “this is a role traditionally assigned to the speaker or deputy speaker of the Youth Parliament”. Kabwa holds the position as chairperson of the second commission in the South African Youth Parliament and was selected from a pool of eight to represent South Africa.

The program allows many politically-inclined youths to network, practice caucus, meet MPs from India and experience mock press conferences. In talking about the program, Kabwa says that “the overall experience has been enriching and eye-opening”. Kabwa plans to empower many more young people from Africa to enter the parliamentary space.

“this is a role traditionally assigned to the speaker or deputy speaker of the Youth Parliament”

After being elected as prime minister, Kabwa introduced a Climate Change Women’s Fund Bill that was adopted by the House. Kabwa explains that “the bill dealt with how climate change affects women working in the agricultural sector”.When it emerged that the Commonwealth Youth parliament could be dissolved or altered significantly, Kabwa formulated an urgent resolution to the CPA and encouraged them to continue organising it in its current form, due to the unique skill sets young and politically-inclined individuals garner from attending it.

Kabwa’s list of feats includes being the first SRC president to be reelected for a second term at UP as well as achieving a gold medalist title in the 2017 UPIM World Championships and holds the position as the Chairperson of the Second Commission in the South African Youth Parliament.

Image: up.ac.za

SUSANNA ANBU