Mail & Guardian (M&G) is accepting nominations for their M&G Top 200 Young South Africans list. The call is for those young individuals who you believe will “play an important role in the future of South Africa”, according to the M&G website. Nominees can be made in various categories from science & technology and business & law to arts & culture and sport. 2012 Top 200 YSA nominee, Sandile Mbatha who was one of fifteen young South Africans nominated in the ‘environment’ category, explains the impact the nomination has had on him professionally: “the nomination definitely says, that as a professional, you must be doing something right. The real value for me is the exposure the projects one works on receives. It means that more people have become familiar with our project…this kind of profile is desirable for any NGO working in South Africa”. Following his nomination in 2012, Mbatha has been approached by several companies to do motivational talks to young and old on what it takes to be a leader.

Sandile Mbatha was one of fifteen young South Africans nominated in the environment category in 2012 (Image source: Sandile Mbatha)Sandile Mbatha was one of fifteen young South Africans nominated in the environment category in 2012 (Image source: Sandile Mbatha)Mbatha, who was 28 when he received the nomination is the Programme Manager of Decentralised Environmental Solutions (DES) and was chosen for his tenacity through adversity and contribution to sustainable sanitation solutions for indigent households in Durban. In spite of the environment category being one of the smallest, there is a growing interest in the sector, noted Mbatha: “it might not be perceived as the ‘coolest’ category or sector, but there is definitely a growing concern about the environment, perhaps due to more publicity on the urgency of environmental issues in recent years. I think even more so than the other sectors, young people who work in the environmental sector are generally those who realise the broader impact of their work, not just the economic opportunities it might afford them”.

Mbatha was chosen in 2012 for his work on the decentralised sanitation programme, DES, based in Durban (Image Source: DES).Mbatha was chosen in 2012 for his work on the decentralised sanitation programme, DES, based in Durban (Image Source: DES).

A nominee in the same category for 2010’s list, Shahil Juggernath, an engineer at Eskom also noted the importance of the nomination for him as a professional, “it was a great honour but it was more of a humbling experience and [the list] a signal of hope for South Africa’s future. There are so many young South Africans doing amazing work in SA”. Juggernath points to one of the nicer benefits of the nomination, “definitely [the] bragging rights to your friends [laughs]… although it seems my friends brag about it more than I do! Other than that it's a great personal feeling to be recognised for the renewable energy work that I'm doing”.

Shahil Juggernath says one of the nicer things about the nomination is bragging rights with friends (Image source: Jonathan Ramayia). Shahil Juggernath says one of the nicer things about the nomination is bragging rights with friends (Image source: Jonathan Ramayia).

For Juggernath, the nomination was an affirmation of the country’s commitment to renewable energy, “it validated a lot of my beliefs as it showed me that South Africa wants a greener and cleaner future… Professionally it has helped me champion the cause of renewable energy with many senior people that are still sceptical about what our future mix of energy will consist of. Since 2010, there has been a huge shift towards greener solutions and I'd like to think it’s because of people like me and hundreds of other young people that have brought about this shift”. At the age of 25, Juggernath became the youngest lead engineer to work on an Eskom wind project (Sere Wind Farm) and holds a BSc in Electronic Engineering from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Preparing to juggle work and his studies, Juggernath recently applied to do an Engineering Masters Degree in Wind Energy.

There are just two criteria for selection:

1.      The person you are nominating must be 35 years and under

2.      They must be “residing in and committed to” South Africa (nominees need not be born in South Africa).

“The most important trait of a young South African leader is passion. You need to believe in what you are doing and have this come out in your work. You also need to become an expert in your field and have the ability to challenge current paradigm”, adds Juggernath.

The ten categories for the M&G Top 200 Young South Africans are:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Business and Law
  • Civil Society
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Media and Film
  • Politics and Government
  • Science and Technology
  • Sport

Send through your nomination, your nominee’s contact details and a 250 word motivation in the online form available on the M&G website.

Selected nominees will be contacted directly. Nominations close on February 28 2013.

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