South African youth Model Legislature Programme

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Model Legislature Programme
By Itumeleng Mphure
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As one of the Action 24 implementing organisations, the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) is encouraging high school and university students to learn about the different arms of South African government and interact with their provincial legislatures through a programme called the Model Legislature.

SAIIA is well known for the successful Model United Nations programme, and uses the same principles and format in the Model Legislature to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to engage with provincial legislatures, local policies, and the legislative process. The aim of the programme is to shape active citizens who engage with their provincial legislatures and other spheres of government. Through this programme, SAIIA and Action 24 hope that the youth will be active in South Africa’s law-making processes, and make meaningful contributions towards issues that directly concern them.
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Western Cape learners got the chance to experience what it feels like to be a Member of Parliament at the Chambers of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament
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The Model Legislature programme launched on 19 October 2018 at SAIIA’s offices in Gauteng and an estimated 70 learners, teachers and students attended. Model Legislature Programmes in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape followed the initial launch in Gauteng. In all four provinces learners and students formed teams of three delegates who represented their communities, schools, and universities.

The Model Legislature in the Western Cape took place on 27 October 2018 at the Chambers of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. Learners and students had the opportunity to have a firsthand experience of how it looks and feels to be a Member of Parliament, and make legislative decisions that affect the province and possibly the country’s legislature. The Public Participation department of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, who were the hosts of the Model Legislature, made an extensive presentation explaining the different arms of South Africa’s democratic government and its functions.
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While the Model UN simulates the United Nations and other international organisations, the Model Legislature programme allows learners and students to make formal submissions, which will be submitted to the Public Participation departments of their provincial legislature.  Learners and students do research, prepare position papers, and represent their schools and community when stating their arguments.

This process allows for an authentic advocacy experience and will help students comprehend the value of the democratic process, and the role that parliament plays.  During the Model Legislature, delegates are divided into three Commissions deliberating on issues on Environmental Affairs, Human Settlements, and Tourism.  Learners and students negotiate and debate, representing their community’s views, and ultimately produce a collective submission document to be submitted to the Provincial Legislature.

South Africa is an inclusive democracy operating under the Batho Pele Principles  which puts people first. The Public Participation unit of the legislature allows citizens to make official submissions, lodge petitions, attend public hearings, attend sittings of the House or meetings of parliamentary committees, attend sector parliaments or programmes, and get involved in oversight activities.
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These public participation processes are the building blocks of our democracy, and SAIIA and Action 24 hope to instil the value of these in South Africa’s youth – shaping them into South Africa’s next generation leaders who are able to relate South Africa’s domestic policies to international policies such as Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals. Through the Model Legislature, SAIIA is cultivating global citizens who will become change makers in the country’s politics, economy, academics and social environment.
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Each group compiled a formal submission on Environmental Affairs, Tourism, and Human Settlement issues in their respective provinces. Read these submissions here:

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