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

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid