News / Africa

South Africa's 'Born Free' Generation Prepares to Vote

Members of the ruling party youth league sing outside the hospital where the late former South African president, Nelson Mandela, was being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, July 17, 2013.
Members of the ruling party youth league sing outside the hospital where the late former South African president, Nelson Mandela, was being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, July 17, 2013.
South Africa is set to hold national elections on May 7. In a country with more than 25 percent unemployment, the elections have generated a lot of interest among jobless young people - most of whom will be voting for the first time since the country established full democracy in 1994. 
 
The vote comes 20 years after the nation shed the oppressive apartheid regime. It also marks the coming of age for South Africa's so-called "Born Free" generation, born just after 1994. This is their first chance at the national polls, and many say they're eager to participate. 
 
The nation's electoral commission says nearly half of the 25 million registered voters are younger than 40. 

Reaching out
 
Election campaigns have reached out to young voters. 

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has promised to create 6 million jobs if given another mandate to rule. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has made a similar offer, and questioned the ANC's promise and job creation plans. The youth-centered and populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF), a new party that is contesting elections for the first time, has promised to nationalize mines and expropriate land without compensation to ensure that unemployed youths own the means of production.
 
The harsh realities of South Africa's poverty and inequality have long caused young voters to be disinterested in the country's politics. But the high unemployment rate, and an increasing number of high-level corruption scandals, seems to be encouraging more young people to use their vote to change the status quo.
 
Daniel Phumutso Magidi, 22, says he will not miss this year's vote for anything.
 
"My vote will make a change because I believe that as young people of South Africa, we are the active generation because we voice our things through the social networks and platforms that allow for the government to hear us," Magidi said. "And they can respond to us apart from burning tires and all that so yah I believe that my vote will have a say."
 
Ayanda Gumbi, 23, is disappointed with the ruling ANC for what she calls the party's failure to deal with corruption and unemployment. She plans to vote for the EFF, which is led by expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema - who has been convicted of tax fraud and is also under investigation for corruption. 
 
"EFF Malema, I just like the guy he is honest, he is truthful," she said. "People have been voting for [the] ANC for years and years but still there is no change. So I think Malema is the guy to bring change."
 
Sukiswa Thubeni, 22, is thrilled to be voting for the first time, but says new parties like the EFF cannot be trusted.
 
"I'm excited because it's something that I have never done before," Thubeni said. "I believe in ANC even though Jacob Zuma has his faults, but I know that ANC one day will make up something."
 
And other young voters, like Nomvula Ndebele, say they are still undecided.
 
"You have got Julius Malema telling us you gonna get free education, free houses, because the ANC has not been delivering, but you have got the DA also telling us that you gonna be getting this and this so it's a bit complicated for now," Ndebele said.

Coming change?
  
Only around 30 percent of eligible new voters are registered this year, according to Prince Mashele, executive director at the Pretoria-based Centre for Politics and Research, but of those, he thinks the majority are likely to vote against the ANC - a sign the party is losing its 20-year dominance.  
 
"The age group between say 23 and 30, I think that group is more likely to go with Malema because most of them have never worked, by the way, in their lives," Mashele said. "They had hope that the ANC will change their economic lot, but the ANC has failed to do so."
 
Twenty years ago, many of these voters' parents watched as this nation transformed quickly from oppression to freedom. This year, more than a million first-time South African voters will get to experience that freedom - at the polling booth.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Majid Jamal from: Spain
April 11, 2014 1:14 AM
Anc have FAILED too late for ANC
Too late any party
Corruption to the highest level any party
Need give me the power i guarantee no poverty no unrmployment
I have the way to make south África the best country again
Contact me

by: Keith Roberts from: Clocolan, South Africa
April 10, 2014 12:51 AM
Just a small correction, South Africa is a democracy African Style, slightly different from the Western type.
In Response

by: tim from: denver
April 11, 2014 3:59 AM
South African on it's way to being Zimbabwe. And the US and Europe on their way to being South Africa.

by: Anonymous from: Mhlanga Rocks Durban
April 09, 2014 3:29 PM
I Thing our youth would vote wisely and do background check, they must not vote people because they talk a lot, know their history and vote wisely, your vote counts

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More