Democracy Works Academy Alumni Testimonials


Kelly Baloyi

“Democracy works Academy enhanced my leadership skills and allowed me to look at our democracy through different political lenses. The programme helped me understand that there is no perfect time to lead than right now. I encourage young leaders to take this opportunity to be apart of the Academy. The network opportunities are vast and meeting leaders from different parts of the country is an added bonus.”


Athenkosi Fani

“I saw this opportunity on the internet, I applied, and after my application was considered to be successful. I enrolled at the beginning of the year through this Covid-19 we had online seminars which was a bit tough because of the introduction to the new reality virtual learning, but I gradually learned how to use it. The program included full seminars about the state of the nation we broke down on matters affecting young people and redefining what it is Democracy in South Africa. Other tasks included a project management course offered by the University of Pretoria and Critical conversation were we looked deeply at existing challenges which are visibly affecting us as a nation including Covid-19, corruption and gender-based violence.

The most important lessons I learnt was that young people must start occupying spaces. We must be leaders of today and not of tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. I have learnt that we must seek to advocate our challenges on the grounds than using social media as an alternative solution. It is thus very important that we, as young people, must unite and combat to fight against social ills. The mission is we must always seek to combat change wherever we are, we must speak! I feel on top of the world after graduating, you must understand that this year I have been through a lot facing two attacks one being gender-based violence and another a homophobic attack, this has caused me to become depressed. However, I had a good mother who pushed me beyond boundaries not to give up – I had to honour her and my grandmother. I am really emotional that it has come to an end because I met really wonderful people but we will network and build a better South Africa for all. I hope this accolade brings more opportunities for me academically I hope it allows me to grow in my academia and as a leader.”


Abongile Davani

“What makes up an orange are all the layers it comes with. Each part has it’s own significance. Being a leader needs an understanding of a subject, from one layer to the next. In this regards, this meant; coming to tap into the provoking history of democracy, how it shaped the current and how I can play my role in making democracy work for the public as an active citizen. Building more connections with different leaders from different walks of life has deepened my thinking and the power we have as young people collectively to be one voice from different fields. All thanks to DWA.”


Vuyani Ndzishe 

“Our local municipalities are defunct, the most basic entry of service delivery is in ruin – the pulse of democracy and the public good. Our national government is distressing. The state of the country is incredibly concerning and one can easily tell that the South African exceptional story has reached its expiration date. I mean this is expected, every democracy hits the ceiling and reinvention and reflection need to happen. This is what the fellows and I witnessed in the Academy, a growing concern and distrust of public official who wields extensive public power. The system is built on patronage and this needs to be bleed out and that is why it is important for power to go back to the people – we give the mandate, our concerns, views and vision should be reflected and not the other way around. Being part of the fellowship has cemented my view that political parties are premised on patronage and somewhat ‘capture’ and we need to envision an alternative. No one vote, every electoral cycle will save us, politicians are a complete flop. We need to occupy all spaces – be ward councilors, serve in the SGBs, hospital boards, be civil servants, work in the courts, be part of civil serve. The citizenry is continuous, it is not a once-off event and so is democracy, it requires work – just as the United Democratic Front toppled the apartheid regime with collaboration of all corners of society. We need that. Apply for the fellowship and meet young people who are dedicated to this cause.”

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