/ 29 April 2019

SA youth plan to skip vote 25 years after freedom

IEC ballot boxes may not be full as six million young South Africans have not registered to vote.
IEC ballot boxes may not be full as six million young South Africans have not registered to vote. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

About six million young South Africans are not registered to vote in the May 8 election — a large swathe of the generation who grew up after the end of apartheid in 1994.

More than half of 18-30 year-olds are missing from the electoral roll in a country that embraced democracy 25 years ago when Nelson Mandela came to power in the first multi-racial elections.

Ahead of polling day, two “born frees” — those born after the end of apartheid — spoke to AFP about why they won’t be voting.

Kgatlego More, the doubter

Aged 22, More is a business student who lives in a residential suburb of Johannesburg with his mother, a fervent supporter of the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party since 1994.

“A year ago, I would have told you I’m very supportive of the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters, a radical left party),” he said.

“They are the voice, the opinion of the youth, because the youth is enraged, the youth is angry — the EFF is representative of all that.

“The other political parties are too politically correct… and the EFF does not really care about that. That is appealing.

“(But) I question their intentions because on one hand, they do voice our opinions, but at the same time they drive fancy cars, they are always at these fancy celebrations. I don’t know where I stand with that.

“Our parents feel the ANC is the only political party that should be in the conversation.

“I feel like I could enforce (change) better if I did something within my community because it is where it begins.

“If you see one problem with your neighbourhood, do something about it, because your vote would not necessarily make up for that.”

Lorenco Jacobs, unemployed

Aged 21, Jacobs lives in a shack in the township of Eldorado Park in Johannesburg, where he is clearing away a vacant plot to try to build a house illegally.

Unemployed, with a daughter, Jacobs is from the “Coloured” community — an apartheid-era classification of mixed race South Africans that still faces discrimination.

“I dropped out of school … I have no house. I am not going to vote. My vote is not going to make a difference,” he said.

“I am not considered. I am ignored. Nothing is happening for us in our community.

“I am angry. I am unhappy with everything.

“The ANC is in power for the black people. Why don’t they consider us equals? We have the right to all be equals.

“The (main opposition) DA does nothing. The DA will not bring any change. It is just empty promises. The EFF fights (physically) in parliament. They are supposed to set an example.

“We empower our political leaders. It is just a corrupt world. Why should we vote for people who will not do anything for us?”

Agence France-Presse