Youth voter registration: the numbers don't lie

2014-02-20 06:33

By Rune Mawethu

The 8th and 9th of February 2014 marked the final open voter registration and the date of 7 May has been announced for general elections, although registration is not closed until the  President’s proclamation. Narrative and feedback before this weekend was that of young people that are despondent and therefore not interested in politics let alone voting for the ANC, we were told that the youth is apathetic and will not bother to register.

It was presented that those who will register are up for grabs more especially the first time voters whom, it is claimed, because they do not have the baggage of history (whatever that means).

Numbers released by IEC show that by end of 9th February between 18 and 19 age cohort 683 201 are registered, 20 – 29 age cohort 5 789 942 are registered and between 30 – 39 age cohort 6 163 368 are registered.

A record 25.3 million South Africans are registered and ready to vote, meaning 80.5 percent of all eligible voters are on the voter roll, on any other day that is an ‘A pass’ measured against South Africans appetite to vote and overall 2.3 million new voters registering whom in the majority are young people as evidenced by 79.89 percent of all new registrations on 8th & 9th February registration weekend being under the age of 30.

These numbers do not lie but go a long way in confirming that South Africans, in particular its youth, is capable to stand up and speak for itself than be prophets of doom on and about the kind of future we envisage.

This turn out dismisses  the notion that presents South Africa’s youth almost as some inanimate objects that are unconscious and uncritical beings, with no needs and aspirations and at best as social beings that have no clue about developments in their own country and their related historical genesis. It showed that as youth we are not standing in the doorway of history waiting for whoever arrives first at the gates and like ahistorical beings will relate with all political parties on a “first-come-first-endorsement-earner” type of scenario.

As youth we know that it is unscientific to project first time voters who were born in or about 1994 are born-free, only future-orientated people and are therefore only looking for a party with a better future proposition that is “colour and class-blind”, as one can never delink the historical material conditions which gave rise to today’s youth.

Since you can’t delink the present from the past, it thus should be understood that the future is conceived and understood in relation to both the past and present. The youth of 2014 are not free from the 300 years of domination and dispossession through colonisation and apartheid which subjected our parents to inhuman conditions of poverty and disenfranchisement, with their dignity nullified.

The youth of South Africa are conscious that it is not natural that some amongst them are born in rural areas and townships, encircled by systematic poverty, whilst at the same time some are born into conditions of privilege in the posh suburban establishments of the country’s metropolis. All of this is widely understood to be a legacy of a systematic oppression that was human engineered. Alongside the recognition of the foregoing facts, there is a wiser appreciation of the empirical evidence demonstrating on daily bases that this situation of racialised uneven development is being overturned by the ANC and its government.

Already SRC elections in institutions of higher learning of 2013/14 have made solid indication that youth (students) have confidence in the ANC and progressive youth in (ANCYL, SASCO, YCL & COSAS) as we witnessed the overwhelming support. Not only have we maintained all the campuses where the SASCO-led PYA was governing, but we have also reclaimed campuses such as the Nelson Mandela Metro University (NMMU), University of Free State, University of Zululand, University of Cape Town and many others. As we speak now, the PYA is leading SRC’s in our non-traditional basis solely because we have encouraged our structures to co-operate and work together. Registration numbers are confirming eagerness of youth people to cast their votes and be counted and already in many instances they are showing that their party of choice is ANC owing to the fact that ANC is proud of past and confident of its future.  

Rune Mawethu holds Maters Degree in Labour Laws with NMMU and is currently serving as Head of Organising for ANCYL NTT and Deputy Chairperson of Young Communist League
He has been largely active in education terrain currently being Council member of Rhodes University and having served in various institutions including being President of SASCO and SRC President at NMMU
He holds a resolute view that a society where all people have shelter, food, work and clothing wherein there is elimination of politically, cultural and economic domination of one by another is not only desirable but possible.                                         


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