Earlier this year, The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) targeted to increase voters roll to at least 27-million people before the 2019 national elections take place. Have they reached their target? Almost, the commission says currently there are 26 million registered voters on the national voters’ roll. The announcement was made at a state of readiness briefing in Centurion earlier this month.

I am a millennial. We are always told “the future of our generation lies in our hands, change begins with us” so they say. Currently there is minimal youth representation in parliament, only Seven (7) MP’s are under the of age 35.

I have fond memories of the days when I took extreme interest in politics, I was one of those young people who was eager to learn about the constitution, civil rights and democracy issues.
I wanted to see the political landscape change. I became active and engaging, attending rallies on campus and so forth. The last vote I casted was for Democratic Alliance (DA) and I am not ashamed to reveal it.

This was because things changed drastically during former President Jacob Zuma’s reign. He has sinced been removed from cabinet yet things are no less different. Corruption, high unemployment rate,high crime and violence amongst other socio-economic issues are not being dealt with. The government remains mum despite the concerns constantly brought to their attention. Even the power of social media i.e) Black Twitter cannot convince SA government to act right . I grew tired and completely drained therefore I decided I have had enough of politicians and their shams; that I was withdrawing from any form of democratic election talks and participation.

What happens when you DON’T vote?

Youth casting a vote at the 2014 National Elections (image from Gravity ideas)

Political parties are soon to start campaigning for the upcoming general elections. I am expecting an atrocious sms from DA Leader Mmusi Maimane sharing all the troubles ANC has spread through the country, as part of their campaign.

There are currently two main opposition parties leading, the DA and EFF. Both these parties have grown post-Zuma and I could tell from the interactions I have had on social media, that most voters are members of:

  • ANC
  • EFF
  • DA

And the rest I would presume, are just like myself, simply not involved.

I ran a poll on Facebook to find out whether the youth on Facebook (aged 18-35) will be voting in the next national elections.

86 votes came in so far.

Results showed that 78 said “yes” they will vote. While 8 said “no”, they will not be participating in the elections. I am part of the 8 that will unfortunately not cast a vote in the upcoming general election.

Seemingly, my act of not participating in the general election, will contribute to the ruling parting staying in power. This turned into a heated debate between myself and a colleague Sindiswa Sibeko.

Ms Sibeko (Employment Risk Specialist and former ANC member) was strongly convinced that the only way the ruling party will lose votes – is when people vote against them “A vote that is not against ANC benefits them.

Sithembile Mbete, a lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria; backs up Sindiswa’s statement. She believes that metropolitan youth voters seem most willing to vote for other parties for no other reason than to have an alternative to the ANC.

According to Ms Mbete, this could significantly reduce the ANC’s share of the vote in 2019. “Disgruntled ANC voters still tend to abstain from voting rather than vote for another party. The trick for opposition parties is to find a way to convince those ANC voters to switch and not just stay home.” She said.

IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo Picture: News24

My decision not to vote has nothing to do with not having a party I identify myself with. I saw politics for what they are and it’s all “wolf in sheep skin” scenario for me. I was comfortable with the impression that if I don’t vote, this simply means nothing will happen. I thought if I did not register, IEC cannot count anything in my name. But something does happen; It look like opposition parties need our votes.

Earlier this year, IEC CEO encouraged young people to vote. “While the elections can neither eliminate poverty nor reduce inequality, it can set the country on the right path to achieving these goals”

IOL news reported that the provincial and national elections would most likely take place in May. President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce the exact date for the 2019 polls.

Would you vote against a ruling party? What difference do you think it will make? I would like to hear your views. Let me know by leaving a comment below.  

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