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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.