News / Africa

Young South Africans of Born-Free Generation Not All Keen to Vote

Young South Africans of the Born-Free Generation Not All Keen to Votei
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Emilie Iob
April 24, 2014 10:34 PM
As general elections in South Africa approach, many young people who were born after the end of apartheid will vote for the first time. But as Emilie Iob reports for VOA News in Johannesburg, not all of them are keen to do so.
As general elections in South Africa approach, many young people who were born after the end of apartheid will vote for the first time, but not all of them are keen to do so.

ANC, EFF, DA, COPE... these parties' campaigns are in full swing.  
 
These May 7th elections come 20 years after South Africa elected its first black president, Nelson Mandela - marking the end of white-minority rule.
 
Mandela's ANC party has dominated politics ever since.
 
Analysts predict the ANC will win again, but by a smaller margin given its poor record on basic service delivery, entrenched unemployment and corruption scandals.
 
This disenchantment may be affecting South African first-time voters.
 
Only one-third have registered to vote.  And even among those that did, some, like university student Simela Tseka, say they are not sure their choice will matter.  
 
"I felt like it was my duty as a South African citizen to vote.  But you know, as of lately my thought on democracy has been changing.  Democracy only offers us an opportunity to put people in power, but after that you don't get to decide how they use that power," said Tseka.

Tseka says he's tired of ANC scandals.
 
But the ANC still has huge support based on its historical legacy.  In the Kliptown district of Soweto, Thabisile Gasa does not hesitate when asked whom she is going to vote for.

"Jacob Zuma, of course !  Because of ANC, we have our freedom," said Gasa.

Gasa says while her main concerns are a lack of jobs and schools in the townships, she believes 20 years is not enough time to fix all problems and that President Zuma and the ANC will eventually deliver.  

ANC support runs in the family. Gasa's mother Elizabeth Mncube says the ANC has made her life better.
 
"I'm happy with the ANC because they gave me a grant and they promised me a house," said Mncube.

Mncube says she has been waiting for that house since 1999 but is confident the ANC will eventually deliver.
 
Not so for 19-year-old Neo Prince Tom, who lives a few blocks away and does not plan to vote at all.

"I think that's my way of protesting, by not voting.  Because if I'm voting, that means I'm saying I agree with everything that they do, you know? But by not voting, I see it as a way of denying everything that they come up with," said Tom.

Tom distrusts all current political parties.
 
"Our parents would always say: 'The ANC has fought for freedom'  And it's not all about that, you know, it's all gone.  What we should focus on, is what is still coming.  It's tomorrow," he said.

Polls show Tom is typical of the "born-frees" - as they're called - who have only known democracy and think the government is out touch.
 
And South Africa is a young nation.  Nearly half of the 25 million registered voters are under 40.  The question is how many of them will vote?

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