Ahead of the elections, one of the main focuses of an electoral commission campaign was young people: to encourage them to register and vote. But whether or not it worked depends on who you ask.
The Economic Freedom Fighters’ student command president, Peter Keetse, said that the youth needed to be afforded more information and lessons when it came to politics and the importance of voting.
“Today young people know very little about activism and politics, but more about some of the useless things like entertainment. We are not saying entertainment is a problem, we are saying that the education we have in this country should teach young people to be responsible because currently they are irresponsible,” he told City Press.
“It’s not about the disinterest of the young people. It it is about them being more integrated socially into the system that we live in.”
The student command leader added that politicians and those in leadership positions had played a role in whether or not the young people of this country took to the polls.
He said: “Most of the youth have not come to vote because the ruling party has been making empty promises. Young people are very dynamic in their thinking - if you lie to them once as the ruling party has actually done over and over again - they will not take you seriously no matter what you say after the fact.”
“As the president of the student command, I must say it is a huge problem when young people don’t come and vote and we need to find ways to remedy the situation. But the problem is a number of politicians mess up, and when they do it does not only reflect badly on them, it reflects badly on all politicians even those who are not corrupt and this has an impact on the young people who would have voted.”
Democratic Alliance (DA) national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said he felt that the participation by young people in this year’s elections was something to be proud of.
“There is an indication that more young people participated in these elections compared to the previous one. From our side as the DA we were very active in terms of targeting the youth vote and it was evident in the names of the candidates on our list; it’s young people,” he said.
“However, in all fairness we could have gotten more young people to register and vote but I think it is important to commend those who did come out to vote.”
Malatsi said that education and other plights faced by the youth were of paramount importance and required immediate attention.
“A big focus of our election campaign was on creating jobs because more than half of the young people in this country don’t have jobs. Creating job opportunities speaks directly to the struggles of young people in this country,” he said.
“It is important to connect with young people through the networks they are in and to listen to them to ensure they are motivated enough to participate in elections.”
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe was enthused about youth participation.
“Young people have participated in this election. They have gone out to cast their votes and we are encouraged by that. It means that they are beginning to understand the importance of consolidating our own democratic gain,” he told City Press.
“One of our main focuses when it comes to youth and unemployment has been to cut out experience as a requirement for young people who have not even entered the job market because we saw this as a barrier that needed to be done away with.”