U.S. election inspires young people to register on SA’s voters roll

2008-11-09 00:00

Pietermaritzburg voters in next year’s general election came out in large numbers to register on the voters’ roll this weekend.

Political pundits say the recent elections in the U.S. have energised South African youth to take part in the elections after years of voter apathy among young people.

Although the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) have not released the official figures for the weekend’s turnout, there is a feeling among political parties that the number of young voters is exceptionally high compared to previous years.

KZN-based political scientist Zakhele Ndlovu said the recent elections in the U.S. were one of the factors that inspired people to register in their numbers.

“The interest that people have shown is an indication that what happened in the U.S. influenced them. They will be energised to go to vote because they think that their lives will change,” said Ndlovu.

DA youth leader Bean McPherson said that the number of young people he saw at voting stations was incredible, adding that recent developments in the U.S. have encouraged young people to participate.

ANC Youth League provincial chairman Mxolisi Kaunda said he also noticed a significant number of youth at voting stations. “Young people are beginning to realise that the future is in their hands,” he said.

When The Witness visited Makholwa High School in Sinathing, Edendale, on Saturday at 1 pm, the IEC presiding officer Sphiwe Nzimande was concerned at the low youth turnout. At the time, 45 people between the ages of 40 and 50 had come to register or check their names. However, by yesterday, the figures had swelled.

“Today, the numbers have increased dramatically. Right now, we have received more than 15 young people. There are still more of them coming in,” said Nzimande at 1 pm yesterday.

By 2 pm yesterday, Sinamuva Primary School in Imbali had a list of 366 people who had come to register and 316 who had come to check their names. “This is a promise that people are going to go out in big numbers to vote next year,” said party agent Xolani Ngongoma.

Sthandile Shange, a party agent at Mehlokazulu High School in Imbali, said those who could not register during the weekend because they do not have IDs will have another chance to do so when the Home Affairs Department visits the area to help with IDs on November 21. Then they can register at Sibusiso Nyembezi Centre.

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