Projects

Dear Presidents

Overall objective

The project aims to inspire young people to find and use their voices to shape and lead for democracy that works for all in pursuit of a socially just, democratic and peaceful world anchored by the rule of law through harnessing the opportunities presented by the electoral

The initiative also seeks to empower young people to lead with their voices in the same way Pixley ka Seme did in his iconic call to action for change to humanise the world, and to dialogue about social justice and demand a reconciliation of political party priorities with the constitutional promise, the African dream, global human rights agendas and the Sustainable Development Goals, thereby reducing disaffection and the attraction of extremism among young people who are unhappy about being left behind with regard to democracy dividends.

Key Target Beneficiary Population

The main target group is young people (aged 16 to 35) from all racial categories as they are reported to be insufficiently interested in participation in elections. Only a third of eligible individuals are registered to vote according to the Independent Electoral Commission yet, according to the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, it is these same individuals who tend to lean towards extremist actions such as violent public protest and polarised engagement with adversaries. Young people also tend to believe that democracy, by its very nature, cannot deliver freedom and social justice, though this is not necessarily true.

Expected Outcomes

  1. A minimum of one million letters and poems written by young people from all 3777 wards;
  2. Electronic publication of all the letters and poems;
  3. Physical publication of all the letters and poems in A Book on Young People’s Needs Versus Political Party Priorities;
  4. A permanent link of the authors as the Fellowship of People Guardians of Democracy monitoring change and reporting on implementation on a daily, weekly and monthly basis on the Thuma Foundation website and its digital TV channel.

Indicators of Achievement

  1. (a) Number of social media and media mentions of human rights and social justice in elections coverage, and (b) Letter and poems written by young people to presidents of political parties about reconciliation of political promises and government service delivery with universal and constitutional human rights and social justice promises;
  2. Mentions of diverse human rights and social justice concerns of young people beyond land and jobs, in electoral political discourses and beyond;
  3. One million Dear Presidents letters collected;
  4. 100 Letters/Poems published in hard copy.

Resources

Article:
GoodThingsGuy: Open letter from Thuli Madonsela is going viral!

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About the Chair:

Professor Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, is the law trust chair in social justice and a law professor at the University of Stellenbosch, where she conducts and coordinates social justice research and teaches constitutional and administrative law.

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