By Ngwako Modjadji
ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula says the party will drum up its role in the liberation of South Africa to win over the new horde of young voters in this year’s general elections.
The ANC believes that its struggle credentials are enough reason for young voters to support it and ensure that it retains power.
Mbalula told City Press last week: “Young people are with the ANC. Yes, they could be disgruntled about this and that like the rest of society, but they understand where freedom comes from. The message we are carrying both in terms of where we come from and where we are going is the answer.”
Mbalula said the ANC as a brand appeals to young voters.
“We have got to get to their minds and show them that here is what democracy has provided through the ANC, and grab the opportunities of democracy. That is what is important,” he said.
Last week, the Electoral Commission of SA announced that more than 700 000 new voters registered to vote during final registration last weekend.
The commission said it was encouraged by the fact more than 81% of those who registered were younger than 30 years old.
According to the commission, this means that the youth have heeded the call to vote.
Of the new voters, 52% are women and 48% are men. KwaZulu-Natal registered the highest number of new registrations, followed by Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.
Unexpectedly, the ANC is claiming to have brought a large number of the younger electorate to register to vote.
“It is a reflection of the work that we have done. We are going to intensify because this is not yet over. Our campaign was targeting young people to ensure that they get out in their numbers to register and vote,” Mbalula said.
However, the party’s troubled youth league appears to have lost relevance and appeal to young people.
The EFF has invested heavily in youth by creating its own loyal voter base, made up mainly of young people.
EFF student command president Peter Keetse said the party had set a target of attracting 2 million students at tertiary institutions.
“We hope that the support we are enjoying will be translated into real votes for the EFF. We want students to go and campaign in their villages and townships,” Keetse said.
Last year, ANC Gauteng chairperson David Makhura admitted that the EFF would continue to win the support of some young people, but remained confident that his party would regain control of the province.
Despite the fact that more and more young people seem to be jumping ship to the EFF, Mbalula said the ANC was not worried that the young electorate would vote for the party.
“The perception that young people belong to a certain political party is misinformation. We are confident that the numbers as they reflect at the present moment are because of the hard work of the ANC.”
He raised concerns about youth apathy, saying: “Don’t sit and become apathetic and think that democracy will come to your doorstep. Stand up and do things for yourself. Democracy will meet you halfway.”
The DA is also planning to launch a campaign in a bid to reach out to young voters.
“We have had enough of the current status quo and want a voice in matters that affect us. This is why we are the launching #Sidikwe campaign to mobilise young people across the country,” DA youth league leader Luyolo Mphithi said.
He said the DA was a party for young people: “The DA has shown across councils, legislatures and Parliament that we put young people at the front. So we are speaking to the country and those are the voters we want to win.”