On 7 September, Commonwealth Alumni took part in a panel discussion on ‘Youth in Leadership and Governance in South Africa’. The event was hosted by the British Council in South Africa and brought together speakers and representatives from the British High Commission in Pretoria, National Youth Development Agency, Department for Higher Education and Training, African Leadership Academy, and the South African BRICS Youth Association. 

Following an opening address from Matube Mabatlane, Marketing and Communications Director, British Council, Mike Foster, Economic Counsellor, FCDO in Pretoria highlighted the context of the South African economy and how the youth population can position themselves to take up key leadership roles. 

Building on this introduction, Cynthia Chigwenya, African Union Youth Ambassador for Southern Africa, delivered the event keynote. She shared the importance of policy making at the national and regional level across Africa to bring peace and security and how young people can leverage their energy and skills to become leaders at all levels. Following her keynote, audience members participated in a Q&A session. 

At the centre of the event was a panel discussion on youth leadership and governance, comprised of experts in the field and chaired by Commonwealth Alumnus Riedwaan Fakier (2022 Scholar, MPA Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value, University College London).  


  • Karabo Mohale, Executive Deputy Chairperson, National Youth Development Agency,  
  • Linda Peter, Assistant Director: International Scholarships, Department for Higher Education and Training 
  • Feziwe Mpaku, Stakeholder Relations Officer, South African BRICS Youth Association   
  • Tsholofelo Shounyane, Representative, ASSITEJ SA and recipient of the VANSA Cultural Leadership Programme  

Panellists discussed the need for greater integration of youth in government and policy dialogue, the role higher education should play in developing youth leaders, fostering youth leadership in the arts and creative sectors, and promoting gender inclusion in youth participation to address gender gaps in leadership and governance in the long-term. 

The panel concluded with a Q&A session.  

The event was closed by Commonwealth Alumnus Sbonga Dlamini (2021 Scholar, MSc Epidemiology, Imperial College London), Chair of the Steering Committee of the Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Alumni Association-South Africa (COSFAA-SA). She highlighted the important role of the association in promoting Commonwealth Scholarship opportunities in South Africa to identify future leaders and changemakers and shared details for attendees to get involved.  

Following the panel event, Commonwealth Alumni were invited to a networking reception hosted by Genesis Analytics, an impact consultancy focused on the Young World and youth.