Youth Need To Vote!

2014-02-06 22:30

Sixty-two percent. That’s the percentage of citizens old enough to vote who make up the youth of South Africa (defined as anyone between the ages of 18 and 35). The youth alone have the power to determine the political future of this country.

With final voter registration with the IEC coming up this weekend, I urge every single member of the youth to go out and register at their nearest polling station.

Leave your daily routine for 10-15 minutes to claim your voice by voting. We as the youth can often seem disinterested in politics for many reasons, but mainly because we feel the politics of today doesn’t relate to us and to issues that are relevant to us.

It’s easy to feel that it’s hard to find the party that supports us and makes us feel welcome. It’s also hard to find one that will give us the platform to intervene and be an integral part of its process of policy discussion.

We need to include political education in our school curriculum, more so at universities, students need to understand the political strategies political parties are using or are planning to use so that our citizens, be they 18 years old or 57, are educated enough to make informed decisions.

This country’s problems seem magnified if you’re young. The national unemployment rate of 24.7% is bad enough, but most of the unemployed are youth. Most of those trapped in the dangerous cycle of crime in the country are the youth. The extreme poverty here affects our youth profoundly. Economist strongly believe that if we can increase our exports and decrease our imports our currency would not be so volatile.

With our economy struggling and our currency so weak, it is the future of our youth that is being lost. This country needs strong and decisive political direction and the youth have the most to gain by demanding it. They also have the most to lose by staying uninvolved.

We need to improve our industries and create more jobs for our people. We need to create the conditions for a better and stronger economy. We need to strengthen our state bank so that it can compete successfully with commercial banks and allow our young entrepreneurs more of an opportunity to succeed in business. We need all this, and more.

Many of us are unhappy with the way the country is being run. Many of our country’s policies are great on paper, but they are not being implemented.

We need to be the change that we want to see in South Africa and that starts with us. It starts with us voting. We have challenges and issues that only we as young people can understand and interpret first hand. So it only makes sense that we should have the biggest say in the decisions of this country.

I encourage every single member of the youth to go out and read up on the policies of all the parties: read their manifestos, learn about their vision and mission. Make a decision on which party is aligned to your vision, morals and sense of integrity and, most importantly, decide which party means what they say and are able to do it.

Once you make your decision, go out into your family and broader community to speak to the people you know. Start canvassing actively for what you believe in. Go on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and advertise the party you support; rally support for them.

In the process you will be getting more familiar with politics and building your own set of skills and your knowledge of politics.

I would also request that all political parties become more open to allowing young leaders to take part in their national policy decisions. Include the youth in the NEC of the party. Let young people debate and innovate the structures of parties for the better. If we don’t allow our young leaders to lead at the highest levels, all that we are actually doing is lowering the standards of participation for our youth. Also the young leaders of today will be the future national leaders of tomorrow, they need to be trained first hand by their "future predecessors."

To all the youth, please use the hashtag #YoungIEC on Twitter and Instagram on the 8th and 9th of February when you are about to register or just have registered to vote.

Follow me on social media. Instagram: Zareefsmb; Facebook: Zareef Minty; Twitter: @zareefsmb

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