“Make your mark”, “Let your voice be heard”, “The future is in your hands”, and these are the words that are echoing on every radio station, billboard and TV advertisement. Yes, election time is upon us once again.
This year’s elections are more than ever focused on the youth vote with all political parties excited and optimistic with the large youth turn out for the final registration weekend held on 8 and 9 February 2014. The IEC has recorded more than 24 million voters on its rolls, with a huge percentage of those registered young people between 18 and 35.
The interest that young people have taken in this years’ elections and the active way in which they are participating in community projects and, some even coming up with their own initiatives to raise awareness and make other youths conscious of what the elections really mean, is worth noting.
The feeling amongst others is that they are being “used” by the political parties and once they have been voted into power none of the promises that have been made out in each manifesto will be honored. This draws to the point that many youngsters do not understand their power and their responsibility as voters. There was a sit in at the Durban City Hall recently that was organised by a youth organisation. Here people were educated on their rights as voters and their responsibility to ensure that the party they will vote into power was held accountable for their doings. They also had a peaceful “Anti-Corruption” picket. This event raised awareness and also gave those who weren’t really sure of the whole thing a broader picture of how things work. The event was followed by a live viewing of the President’s 2014 State Of The Nations Address, this put into perspective what had been discussed and pinpointed exactly what the government should be held accountable for.
For those who feel that they have no voice or that their voice is too little to be heard, there are other avenues and structures that are in place and should be utilised at grass root level. It is as simple as attending a ward committee meeting. Here you can sit in a meeting in your community with people that live around you and listen to proposed future developments in your community and other problems that community members may have. This forum also gives one a chance to actively engage the ward committee and the councilor and hold them accountable for milestones that have not been reached. Indirectl, you will also be holding the government responsible. Another way, in which the youth can actively add their voice is to form youth clubs where the youth of a particular area can discuss issues directly affecting them and appoint a representative to forward these issues to the local councilor. This would be effective as many voices are heard better than one.
The onus is one those who know better to educate and enlighten those who seem to be apathetic because their apathy could be led by the fact that they do not fully understand how they are affected or how to engage their voices when it comes to the elections and accountability. It is in YOUR hands.
To vote or not to vote?
Join a live debate hosted by Live Magazine SA as they launch their Voting Is Power Campaign aims to capture the attitudes of young South Africans to democracy and the upcoming election.
Taking place at JoziHub in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 11 March, the youth debate will feature a panel of thought-leaders and influencers including DJ and 5FM presenter DJ Fresh, comedian Kagiso Lediga and other young leaders.
Other young people will also join in via Google Hangouts from 88mph in Cape Town, the Steve Biko Foundation, Ginsberg in King William’s Town.
Click here to book your seat in Cape Town, Johannesburg or King William’s Town.