Chisom Jenniffer Okoye
2 minute read
3 May 2019
6:10 am

Students not on political parties’ radar… except EFF

Chisom Jenniffer Okoye

Political expert Ralph Mathekga says he struggles to find evidence where political parties specifically focus on the plight of students in the country.

University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) students students protested this week, 8 February 2019, demanding that they be allowed to register despite owing money, and also be assisted with accomodation. FILE PHOTO: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency (ANA)

As political parties wind up their rallies for the elections next week, students wonder whether the elections will even have an impact on their woes, while a political analyst says he is yet to find a party that particularly targets them in their manifesto.

This comes after the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) declared its readiness for the election on Wednesday by opening the National Results Centre in Pretoria on Tuesday, leaving the 48 political parties scurrying in their appeal for more votes.

Political expert Ralph Mathekga said he struggled to find evidence where political parties specifically focused on the plight of students in the country.

He said black people had evolved in South Africa but political parties had failed to understand that and instead continued to focus on the older identities of black people which were primarily based on class.

“I am not aware of any party focusing on smaller groups, but you do see students being represented, like what you see in the student command of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

“However, even with this I don’t see a sustained focus on students and I think the message gets swallowed with the bigger message for the nation,” said Mathekga.

Optimistic that there was a particular party that would change that narrative, Wits student activist Kamohelo Chauke said the Economic Freedom Fighters was the only answer to the plight of students struggling in tertiary institutions across the country.

“It is the only party that engages in student issues and its mobilisation has been impactful,” said Chauke. “People are seeing this and I believe the support for the Economic Freedom Fighters is going to grow drastically in these elections.”

Fellow Wits student Mbali Mashaba was not convinced students would reap any benefits from the elections.

“The political space is a walking contradiction,” she said.

jenniffero@citizen.co.za

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