Apathetic born-frees are tomorrows politicians

FILE PIC: IEC officials help people determine their voting districts. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

FILE PIC: IEC officials help people determine their voting districts. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Heading into the elections, only a third of the born-free generation have registered to vote at the polls.

Commentators say this is extremely disconcerting for the democracy of South Africa and the future political landscape.

It has been reported that around 640 000 out of a possible 1.9 million born-frees have registered for the upcoming general elections, meaning that only 33.6% of people born after 1994 will be able to voice their views through a ballot paper.

Read more: Why born-frees won’t be voting

Director of the Political Futures Consultancy and political analyst Daniel Silke said it is concerning that such a low number of people who did not experience apartheid have opted not to register for the elections. He added that this can lead to a generation of disconnected youths.

“We are breeding a generation of disconnected young South Africans who will become frustrated with the political landscape even though this is their own doing,” said Silke.

Silke added that these youths will find their voice unheard in the political system and as a result can lead to civil unrest as their irritation grows at not being able to participate in choosing a route for South Africa.

“The recourse for frustrated youths may be to take their frustrations to the streets in form of protests as their voices are not being heard,” he said.

“We are sowing seeds of dissented, frustrated and dissatisfied youths.”

Silke finds it troubling that it is this generation of born-frees who will inevitably become the politicians of tomorrow and will lead the way for all other generations of born-frees as South Africa sees the last of the pre-1994 politicians in office.

He added that this generations needs to be more politically engaged now so as to not destabilise the political landscape of tomorrow.

“The registration process is easy but only reached top gear last year. Perhaps the political system is failing between general elections to put emphasis on registering these first time voters.”

“The physical nature of the voting process can be made even easier by allowing participant to vote at supermarkets for example.”

Silke said while political parties have done a fair amount to appeal to younger voters, more can be done.

He identified that it was difficult to motivate young people politically and that they were more worried about their own immediate concerns.

“Younger people in South Africa deeply concerned about schooling, jobs, careers and are not connecting practical needs with the importance of voting,” he said.


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