South Africa’s election campaigns are in full swing ahead of May 7. Streetpoles are covered with posters, news broadcasts are filled with rallies and our cellphones are buzzing with “please vote for me” SMSes. But in the midst of all of this, millions are being forgotten. The South Africans who can’t vote because they’re too young: our children.
South Africa’s political parties largely gloss over children’s issues in their election manifestos. Yet 37% of our population is under the age of 18, and the consequences of our policies on children will be felt for many decades to come.
That’s where the Sizweni Hear Us campaign comes in. A joint effort by Media Monitoring Africa and several of South Africa’s leading children’s NGOs, Sizweni is aimed at getting the public to put pressure on politicians and the media to make children a priority these elections.
“We only vote on one day but our choice as adults will impact our children for years. As we celebrate 20 years of democracy it is critical that we build our country for our children and make responsible choices for them. While we are using Sizweni to help highlight the importance of children now. We will use it to help hold our politicians accountable in the future.”William Bird, director of Media Monitoring Africa.
Here’s how the public can help to make children a priority when we go to the polls on May 7.
1. Ask politicians and political parties what they plan to do for South Africa’s children.Have a look at Sizweni website sizweni.net for a quick and easy guide to the most important issues. Write to your newspaper or news website, tag the campaign on Facebook and tweet politicians directly.
2. Ask the media to give more coverage to children’s issues.We pay attention to what the media covers. Use Facebook and Twitter, call into your local radio stations, write to your newspaper, text your TV station. You have lots of power as a consumer of media, so use it!
3. Ask everyone you know to do the same.The Sizweni campaign is restricted to social media because of budget limitations, but you can help spread the word far and wide.
Our children’s lives will not change for the better unless you, the people who can vote, demand change for those who can’t.
To find Sizweni online, go to sizweni.net, follow us @Sizweni_HearUS or find us on Facebook.