“When we feel this common sense of destiny, we begin to take ownership of the present,” writes Miller Matola.Miller Matola, CEO of Brand South AfricaWe often hear the term “active citizenship” used in relation to our contribution to the growth and development of South Africa. Do we, however, fully understand what it means? If we do not fully understand what things mean, or if we cannot internalise words so that they mean something to us, they will always remain words without any impact and therefore without the required behavioural change.So what does active citizenship mean? Mirjam van Donk of the Good Governance Learning Network sees active citizenship as “a multi-dimensional image that includes vertical relationships (citizens engaging with the state) and horizontal relationships (citizens engaging with and among themselves)”. She equally concedes that “active citizenship is a contested notion, imbued with different meanings and connotations”. This is not unique and can be said of many concepts in today’s lexicon.The National Development Plan has recently popularised the concept of active citizenship, and gives us some idea of what “active citizenship” refers to. The NDP describes active citizenship as relating to rights, equalising opportunities and enhancing human capabilities. It also finds a strong correlation between active citizenship, government accountability and responsiveness. This is a two-way process, and holding government to account is viewed as a civic duty. This is extended to citizen participation in shaping policies and their implementation at a national and local level.In this two-way process of shaping South Africa’s policy and governance landscape, is also the responsibility – and opportunity – for South Africans to engage with each other. This is the horizontal aspect of active citizenship. This also drives nation building and cohesion in a way that redefines the South African identity. We cannot, even 20 years after achieving democracy, ignore the effect of our history on how we see each other as citizens of a common land, bound by a common flag and anthem, with various starting points but with a common destiny. It is time that we, as South Africans, engage actively in shaping the country we would like to live in, the country we would like our children to inherit.A common sense of identityIn writing this and reflecting upon active citizenship, I was inspired by the words of the South American poet Pablo Neruda who wrote: “To feel affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses – that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being and unites all living things.” I believe that herein lies the essence of active citizenship and herein lies our answer as to why it matters.When we feel this common sense of destiny, we begin to take ownership of the present. So while we need to hold public representatives to account, we also need to take active control of building a country that can nurture the needs, dreams and aspirations of each citizen of South Africa. It can begin with the people with whom we interact most often and it will inevitably grow into a nationwide movement if we each play our part in building our country – for the better and for the future. By playing our part as active citizens, we can each grow South Africa into a competitive nation whose growth and development is sustainable and enduring.Miller Matola is the CEO of Brand South Africa. Follow him on Twitter @MillerMatola. Join the conversation at @Brand_SA and @PlayYourPartSA and with the hashtag #CompetitiveSA.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The 77th Ohio Ag Net podcast brings Ty Higgins, Matt Reese, and Joel Penhorwood together on a rainy day during harvest season.Joel talks with Monte Anderson and several Wilmington College students after the recent fall agriculture and equine business management visit day.Matt hears from Grant and Grace Lach — both state FFA officers, and get this, twins!The full interviews and more on the Ohio Ag Net Podcast, sponsored by AgriGold.
The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday approved 10% reservation for economically backward among upper castes in jobs and educational institutions. The nod was given at a meeting here of the State Cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, senior Cabinet Minister and U.P. government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma told mediapersons. Third State to do soUttar Pradesh became the third State after Gujarat and Jharkhand to approve the legislation which has to be ratified by at least half the State Assemblies in the country. The Constitution (124 Amendment) Bill, 2019, providing for 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions to the economically weaker sections in the general category was passed by Parliament in its recently concluded winter session. President Ram Nath Kovind has since given his assent to the Bill. “The Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath approved the notification granting 10% reservation to the poor among the upper castes which has come into effect on January 14,” Mr. Sharma said. “The U.P. government will implement the quota for the upper castes fully without touching the reservation for other sections of society,” he said.Meanwhile, a meeting between Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, who holds the Higher Education portfolio, and State and private universities, approved a proposal for implementing the 10% reservation for upper caste poor in higher education institutions after the Cabinet approval.