The Apolitical Foundation Southern Africa is an independent, non-profit organisation. Our mission is to make the public service work for people in southern Africa by supporting the next generation of ethical and transformational public leaders. In order to achieve this, the foundation offers non-partisan, 9-month intensive fellowship programmes through the Apolitical Academy to prepare diverse cohorts of talented and innovative leaders for careers in government or elected leadership. Focused on personal leadership and public purpose, ethics and values, and underpinned by a high-level mentorship program, our programmes identify and support young candidates, women and other political outsid... read more The Apolitical Foundation Southern Africa is an independent, non-profit organisation. Our mission is to make the public service work for people in southern Africa by supporting the next generation of ethical and transformational public leaders. In order to achieve this, the foundation offers non-partisan, 9-month intensive fellowship programmes through the Apolitical Academy to prepare diverse cohorts of talented and innovative leaders for careers in government or elected leadership. Focused on personal leadership and public purpose, ethics and values, and underpinned by a high-level mentorship program, our programmes identify and support young candidates, women and other political outsiders who wish to transition into public service, but lack the networks and personal development opportunities to do so on their own. We support the development of diverse, strong networks of public leaders who can contribute to the creation of open, creative and vitally democratic societies everywhere. By engaging and training people to participate in the public life of their countries, we hope to revive trust in politics and government and revitalise democracies in Southern Africa. THE PROGRAMME Selected fellows participate in a 9-month public leadership programme comprising seven residential weekend seminars in locations around Southern Africa. The seminars are led by a combination of skilled moderators and experienced government and political leaders from across the regional and ideological spectrum. Each weekend seminar offers fellows the opportunity to connect with their sense of public purpose, learn more about their local political and government systems, and develop the skills, networks and acumen to be compelling candidates for elected or appointed political or government office in their countries and communities. Local community work and engagement forms part of every weekend seminar to ensure that fellows are always connected to the concerns of the people they hope one day to serve. Seminar Themes include: "Why me? Why us? Why now?" A personal exploration of fellows' public leadership purpose. The first weekend seminar primarily focuses on introductions and fellows' personal exploration of their public purpose. Through a combination of group plenaries, small group discussions and inputs from guest speakers, fellows explore the internal and external drivers of their decision to transition to public life. "The Elements of a Public Life" A skills-based seminar, exposing fellows to the rigours of campaigning and leading in the public eye. The third seminar introduces fellows to the systems, practicalities, and challenges of a career in the public eye. A skills-heavy programme comprising media engagement, technology, driving issues for impact as well as speechwriting and speechmaking, is complemented by deep-dive reflections on the personal and social impact of a career experienced in full view of the voting public. "Ethics in Public Leadership & Corruption Case Study" An introduction to and opportunity for fellows to interact with government leaders who have battled corruption and unethical behaviour in their work as public leaders. One of the flagship seminars of the Apolitical Foundation programme, "Ethics in Public Leadership" introduces fellows to government and political leaders who have faced an ethical crossroads in their efforts to be responsible and accountable public leaders. This seminar will explore the ethical, legal, and systemic consequences of straying from one's commitment to serve the people rather than oneself. "Political Campaigns & Grassroots Organising" A case study and a series of guest speakers will provide fellows with the opportunity to dive deep into the practicalities of running a political campaign for election to public office. The case study provides fellows with an opportunity to explore the practicalities of running a political campaign for election to public office. This seminar asks fellows to deploy what they have learnt about defining a vision, identifying constituencies, making a case for change, and leading ethically and transparently, to the challenge of seeking election to public office. The Apolitical Academy curriculum is specifically designed to allow fellows to cover the essential components of a leader's journey in the public service. These include: - Identifying the top issues facing their country today, and devising workable solutions; - Prioritizing personal development through avenues such as coaching; - Political campaigning and grassroots organizing; - How to work effectively with the media; - The internal mechanics of elections and electoral systems; - The comparative political systems of the countries represented in each year's class; - Understanding political institutions in their respective countries; - Shadowing public service leaders for knowledge and skills transfer; - Establishing connections to diverse political organisations and branches of government; - How to scale your political platform/idea/issue; - Ideals underpinning leadership development; - Unpacking political literature/philosophy; - Rooting public service in sound ethical principles; - The fundamentals of political fundraising; - The tenets of leadership in government institutions. PUBLIC LEADERSHIP TRAINING Apolitical Academy offers a Leadership Development Programme which is focussed on taking its fellows through a rigorous and transformational leadership journey. Through our training, we lean into the smaller-group, intensive training approach over an extended period of time, as opposed to the common larger group fellowships which are run over shorter periods of time. The latter programmes do not allow for deep-dive leadership development work, and while they can serve as intensive networking sessions, they risk achieving limited long-term impact. While there are many public leadership training initiatives around the world, Apolitical's nonpartisan fellowships have several unique features that speak directly to the need for attracting younger and newer leadership talent to the public service. These include: - Drawing on the deep global policy knowledge of the world's biggest platform for public servants and on trusted relationships with governments and their partners around the world. - Amplifying what's working, over time, by offering the materials we develop for its own fellowship programmes to other non-partisan training organizations around the world. - Harnessing an existing global network of the most inspiring, innovative, and successful people working in government and an online platform designed specifically for the public service. - Offering a unique modular curriculum specifically tailored to encourage in-depth participation from Fellows and to yield optimal outcomes. - Working with governments and public institutions who also see the value in providing training, mentorship and support for a new generation of public sector leaders. - A curriculum tailored to the Southern African region, cohort, and political environment, with a one-of-a-kind focus on personal development, ethics, and other aspects of public leadership that are not traditionally taught. Our Fellows are also unique in that they are proven leaders; particularly those who have yet to become active in the mainstream political system. They are civil society or private sector leaders, global leadership graduates or international scholarship recipients, public policy graduates, social activists, public policy & technology experts who have all expressed an explicit intention either to run for election into public office, or transition into the public sector within governments or within the offices of publicly elected leaders. This is an important distinguishing characteristic of the Academy's fellows: one which sets them apart from the participants of other leadership initiatives. Apolitical Academy fellows are women and men between the ages of 20 and 45 (with some flexibility built into the selection process) who are exploring if and/or how to transition to leadership in the public service. Each of our cohorts aims to be representative of the diversity of the regional population, and we seek out participants who represent a broad swathe of political ideologies - excluding none at all - but without holding extremist ideological views. Many aspirant political and government leaders struggle to find opportunities in the political training space, either because they do not wish their transition to be party-affiliated from the outset of their careers, or because they simply don't know where to begin. For many, the routes to elected public office and government are opaque and confusing. One of the additional challenges of party political training programmes is that the very people who run them must incubate the leaders who will one day replace them in the internal party contestation for senior leadership positions. Often this means that veteran leaders hold their "mentees" back. As a non-partisan movement, our incentive is to ensure the best possible candidates are available for appointment to public leadership roles or for elections in any political parties; or indeed as independent candidates. LASTING IMPACT The communities benefiting from the work of the Apolitical will extend far beyond the participants in our 9-month leadership programmes. In any democracy, the quality of government depends largely on the quality and diversity of leaders serving in and being elected into the political system. The benefits of supporting a new generation of smart, innovative and ethical public leaders will include better policies, more informed voters, and better delivery of public services. These returns on investment are priceless: they are the scaffolding of flourishing economies, global development and social equity.
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