South African Viewpoint: Six million youth disempowered?

By (Puleng Matsaneng)

I am not an expert in figures, but I definitely know that six million people is more than 10% of our nation.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) almost six million youth had not registered by the closing date at the end of January 2019. Was this their way of showing disappointment in their leaders or prospective leaders? The IEC slogan “voting is your way to be heard” didn’t mean a thing to them. Do our youth not see themselves as the people that will one day move the country forward?

I wondered if they felt like the Israelites in Egypt with no hope in their leader, Moses. Pressure is powerful. They felt pressured and angered by those in power. The rich people in this country (a mere 10%) own 71% of the country’s wealth, while the poorest people (a whopping 60%) share 7% of the total wealth.

Young people are disillusioned as they watch people who are better salaried than their own parents, have 24-hour security and many other resources, but continue to steal the countries resources.

To some of our leaders, stealing billions is like stealing 10 cents. Yet, every 10 cents is very important to the growth of the country. Another truth – it is not your 10 cents, but it belongs to the nation. Leaders were appointed to look after our money and not to squander and squabble over it.

Many young people mentioned that their parents or families depend on food donations from charities and on government pension money, which is not enough. I must be honest I feel for them, their cries are genuine.

We are all familiar with hope and disappointment. We are a nation filled with hopes and desires and those desires are sometimes fulfilled and other times they are not. It could be as simple as having trust that a friend will help you, and then be disappointed when all help fails. The truth is we do find ways of getting what we desire; then we either succeed or fail again.

So too, when we enter into prayer, we are filled with hopes and wait for the outcome. The outcome could be what we prayed for and sometimes it is not. Those are times where we go back to prayer to try and understand where things went wrong. We ask ourselves this question, was it through our lack of listening?

What am I trying to say to the youth of South Africa is this: your disappointment in the government that led you not to register to vote, hasn’t made any changes. Your vote could have made a significant change. There were 48 contesting parties and the choice was wide. Does it mean that not one of them spoke to you?

I appeal to the youth to become proactive about issues. Don’t feel forgotten and discarded. I know our leaders have failed you badly. They did not visit you when you highlighted your complaints, they carried on and enjoying stealing from your future. Your future is in your hands. Grasp it firmly.

Young South African voters hope for change


South Africa’s young voters said they hope for more jobs and a change in the distribution of resources, just one day after voting in the country’s national and provincial elections.

Many young South Africans complained about a lack of jobs, high crime rates, corruption and poor public services – issues the governing African National Congress has promised to address.

Young South Africans made up the majority of eligible voters who did not register to vote in the May 8 elections, raising concerns over apathy barely a generation after many of their parents won the right to vote for the first time.

Numbers released by the Electoral Commission of South Africa, indicated that nearly 27 million people registered to vote.

It however expressed concerns about 9.8 million eligible voters did not register.


By (Thando Kubheka)

Election observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region have raised concerns over the poor youth turnout at polling stations as South Africa votes in its sixth democratic elections.

The officials representing countries including Angola, Mozambique, Botswana and Lesotho visited a voting station at Freeway Park Primary School in Boksburg on Wednesday.

African National Congress chairperson Gwede Mantashe cast his vote at the school on Wednesday afternoon.

The election observers visited a number of other voting stations to assess whether the country’s polls were free and fair.

Nyeleti Mondlane who was with the Mozambican delegation said they would have loved to see more young people come out to vote.

“And to have young people come out to vote signifies that they have adequate information and they understand the meaning of coming out to vote. If you have an opinion, you need to exercise [it and] vote and voice your opinion.”

Tebelelo Seretse from Botswana said she was impressed with how South Africa’s election was progressing.

“It was calm, it was organised, so we are impressed with that and people seem to know what they wanted to do.”

The SADC observers applauded the Electoral Commission of South Africa for the work it had done so far.

South Africa’s youth missing on election day


South Africa’s sixth general election took place on 8 May 2019. Notably absent from the voters is one population group heavily affected by the country’s most pressing issue: unemployment.

While the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) recorded a record number of voter registration for the 2019 elections, the statistics of registered voters have a notable absence.

People aged under 30 make up the smallest percentage of registered voters nationally. Considering this is the country’s largest population group, it’s a particularly alarming statistic.

The number of South Africans under 20 who have registered to participate in the general election has dropped to the lowest level since at least 1999, according to the IEC’s data. Registrations are at the lowest in at least a decade for those aged between 18-29.

The IEC only started keeping records by age after the country’s first democratic elections back in 1994.

It’s also surprising considering how, superficially anyway, the youth have appeared to be highly engaged in politics in the wake of the #FeesMustFall movement.

The leaders of the country’s two main opposition parties – Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – are also relatively young. Both are 38 and some of the country’s biggest problems directly impact on the missing voters.

More than half of South Africans aged 15 to 24 seeking work are unemployed and the country remains one of the most unequal in the world.

South Africa’s registered voters by age group

Photo: TSA

Where is South Africa’s young voters?

Some believe it’s all down to apathy. Indeed, local media who interviewed young people electing not to vote often said that they feel like they are not able to affect change.

Others say that they just do not feel engaged enough by the current crop of political parties or that they simply did not have the time to register.

“There is an element of voter apathy and not political apathy – in universities, you see robust and noisy politics which is usually powerful enough to effect change,” said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, an independent political analyst told Bloomberg.

“The EFF has helped to energize young people. A lot of people on campuses vote for the EFF. The ANC Youth League has been disorganized.”

The election is the first measure of whether President Cyril Ramaphosa can reinvigorate support for a party whose backing rests largely on its liberation credentials, but now faces the prospect of a reduced majority.

South Africa’s election news with a unique WhatsApp channel


Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh is a social commentator, a rapper, a political analyst, an Oxford University Ph.D scholar and a new media innovator.

He’s also the founder of #SMWX – named after himself: Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Xperience.

“And no, it’s not another WhatsApp group,” Sizwe says.

“We don’t add everyone in a conversation at once because if anyone has ever been in a WhatsApp group chat they know how irritating that can become.”

Instead people can contact the team directly and ask questions one-to-one, ensuring a more personal response. They can also watch the video content on YouTube and Twitter.

Sizwe seizes the opportunity in his intro video to play on the phrase: #OutWithTheOld and #InWithTheNew. The clever catch phrase doesn’t only apply to the changes youth want to see in the government which is being elected on May 8.

It also refers to how leaders could choose to engage with the youth, using new media to address a young audience.

The youth vote, Sizwe believes, is the vote of power – although many politicians have overlooked this market, disregarding millennials as apathetic.

Sizwe knows better.

Attracting millenials

The response to his platform, he says, “has been overwhelming, proving that the millennials are anything but apathetic.”

Reaching over 5,000 subscribers within the first two days of its launch on March 10, 2019, #SMWX now has over 11,000 followers. That’s a third of what prime time paid TV viewership attracts in South Africa.

As well as news updates and behind the scene footage of political events, subscribers can give feedback and also request Sizwe’s latest music video.

The rapper and scholar’s ambitious pursuits to combine his love for hip hop music and the fruits of his academic scholarship add a special edge and grit to his WhatsApp channel. In addition, his content promises to deliver all the comedy, tragedy, intrigue and drama of South Africa’s 2019 general elections.

On one episode of #SMWX, for example, Sizwe sits down with young political activist Naledi Chirwa in a colorful urban setting. She is a bold 25-year-old who speaks out against gender violence and how male dominance is causing black women to suffer unjustly. Her aim is to liberate the black woman from patriarchy.

In another, he talks to a local white actress who became controversial for attending an ANC rally and was afterwards called “the white cover girl for the ANC.”

Sizwe also puts together news broadcasts – such as a recent one focusing on shabby infrastructure brought to light when recent flooding further damaged roads and shacks in KwaZulu-Natal province. This has led to ongoing protests, with poor communities taking to the streets in their more affluent surroundings to highlight the inequalities in South African society.

How does a 30-year-old graduate fund such a big project?

Just how the #SMWX concept is pulled together is a question that seems to intrigue many of Sizwe’s Twitter followers – they bombard his feed with endless comments and questions like: ‘Who’s filming?’ ‘Is it just him?’ ‘But who’s doing the digital strategy? ‘This is exciting!’

Sizwe reveals that he does the channel in collaboration with a tech company called Thanga.

He was at school with Thanga’s CEO Roy Barole and the two friends have been chatting for years about doing something groundbreaking.

The May 8 elections provided the perfect opportunity to do just that.

In addition, the two have sought grant funding from the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) which accelerates digital media initiatives in SA, especially those run by independent broadcasters such as #SMWX.

How exactly does #SMWX work?

Thanga uses artificial intelligence, instant messaging and chatbots to run the channel – while still maintaining human interaction with subscribers. This kind of technology is, as one Twitter follower comments, “the next level,” especially for a developing nation like South Africa.

With Thanga covering the technical aspects, Sizwe handles the editorial side of things, which gives him the freedom to focus on topics that affect and interest young people – topics such as racism, unemployment, land reform and access to education.

He’s helped by a team of six creatives to do this.

What will happen to #SMWX after the election?

Sizwe says there are plans to continue after the election, to expand the channel “to different places on the continent and in different languages in South Africa.”

One issue is how to make money from the platform and keep it going in the future without diluting the integrity and values of his brand, Sizwe says.

Do we smell a conflict of interest?

After the many years of ANC corruption and nepotism, South Africans are sensitive to any hint of favoritism or conflict of interest. And Sizwe’s dad is Dali Mpofu, a lawyer who happens to be the chairman of the Economic Freedom Fighters – currently the third biggest party in South Africa.

Sizwe is keen to stress that he shares no political affiliation with his dad’s party or any other party for that matter. He says his channel is neutral and he assures followers that he doesn’t have any political agenda other than to be a voice to a younger generation.

But, he admits, his dad – and his mother for that matter – influenced him in that they made it clear politics was important.

“My parents were always political and I grew up in a political household and so politics has always been a part of my life,” explained Siswe, who back in 2014 shot to fame as a rapper when he penned a political song addressed to then South African president, Jacob Zuma.

Growing up in a different generation, he says the situation is different now to when his dad entered politics during apartheid. The youth of today just want to see the government deliver on its promises.

”My hope is that this platform will act as a catalyst for other young people to build a network or discussion and debate using new technology to contest the mainstream media landscape in South Africa,” he said.

South Africa: Youth Voter Registration Drops Ahead of Election

Situation Reports

What Happened: South Africa has experienced a significant drop in youth voter registration ahead of the country’s May 8 election, News24 reported April 30.

Why It Matters: A significant decline in young voters has the potential to damage the electoral performance of a number of parties that rely on the support of younger citizens.

Background: South Africa has been ruled by the African National Congress (ANC) since the end of apartheid 25 years ago. But a new generation of South African voters with little or no memory of apartheid have less loyalty to the party, and are now threatening its control.

Source World View

South Africa: The youth are pawns in the game of politics

By Muzi Kuzwayo

Political parties are disposable ladders that opportunists use to achieve their ambitions.

Our politics, which was once seen as the model that other countries could only dream of, has lost its South African values.

At first we made extensive progress, doubling the middle class and giving shelter to those who could not afford it. RDP houses mushroomed everywhere, destitute families were given grants so their children could have a better start in life.

The global economy was humming as China’s economy raced past its European rivals, while Japan’s became the second-largest in the world.

South African businesses were welcomed with open arms as they expanded around the globe and our economy grew.

Employment increased and people made money, which manifested through conspicuous consumption, which was in line with the world’s hyper-consumerism.

Television sets did not only have to be flat screen, but they had to be the biggest and they had to be many so that children did not have to fight with the adults as to what to watch.

They also had to be glossy, with sliver trimmings to make sure that they told as much about the owner as they did about the programs being watched.

Credit flowed, people and companies borrowed as if money was a beard on a man’s face, which only death can stop from growing.

Cars got bigger and families owned fleets of them. Driveways became as wide as the roads and every house in the new gated communities became a mansion.

The potbelly, which was once the trademark of the rich, became as common as the mansion.

The number of children who became morbidly obese increased as all they did was watch television and play on the gadgets that their parents bought for them.

Rivers of Champagne flowed and the newly rich indulged, and when they were hungover, the following morning, they drank more Champagne.

The music was good and it attested to the good times.

“Bosso ke mang? (Who is the boss?)”, the late HHP asked.

His answer? The boss is the one who eats their Rice Krispies with whisky.

Even the ANC succumbed to the ebullience, popping Champagne every year at its birthday. The leaders drank and ate cake, while the masses cheered in the blazing sun.

It was “irrational exuberance”, as the then chairperson of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, called it.

It all came to a crashing end when China’s economy cooled down. Companies produced less, their profits declined and they fired employees as Chinese imports became cheaper. The rand got weaker and luxury cars became more expensive.

It was history repeating itself, as told beautifully by Polly Adler, a madam who lived through the roaring 1920s, in her book A House Is Not A Home.

Adler talks about top-drawer boys who rolled high in New York’s bawdy houses.

In one instance, there was a long line of bankers, which went all the way around the block, waiting patiently to spend their hard-earned money on giving a bath to sex workers in a tub full of Veuve Clicquot.

When the good times came to an end, the young bankers couldn’t think of a future and many committed suicide.

A rising tide hides all sins and during the time of plenty, many mistakes were made and hidden.

It was only when the economy turned that things changed and the corrupt were noticed. It is time to rethink our politics beyond elections and the hyperbole of manifestos.

The biggest challenge is youth unemployment.

Every year we take hundreds of children into schools and for twelve years we pump them up with ambition, and then at the end of that period we let them sit idle at home, without jobs.

They soon become desperate and bitter, and unscrupulous politicians mobilise them for their own nefarious ends.

Let us keep them busy and introduce national service to give them practical skills that they can use in real life.

Source News24

South Africa: Youth won’t vote due to ‘less confidence in govt, parties

By Eric Naki

Of the 11.2 million unregistered voters, a staggering 40% – the vast majority of whom are between 18 and 34 – will not register to vote, a survey found.

Although President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the scheduled May elections as the most important – even more significant than the landmark 1994 democratic poll – a large number of eligible voters with a huge youth segment may not vote because they are not planning to register.

While voter apathy became a living phenomenon in the last several elections due to various reasons, the latest data released by SA Citizen Surveys (Sacs) came as a shock.

The bad news comes on the eve of the final registration round this weekend in preparation for the 2019 national elections.

“When looking at those unregistered voters, accounting for 11.2 million South Africans, in more detail, 40% or 4.5-million of them say they do not intend to register to vote.

“Worryingly, a significant proportion of these people are young South Africans, with about one-third aged between 18 and 24 years, and one-third aged between 25 and 34 years,” a statement accompanying the Sacs study said.

Political analyst Daniel Silke attributed the lack of interest in registering or voting to frustration towards all political parties, and especially the numerous allegations of corruption against senior government officials and politicians.

He said the study result indicated disgruntlement at the country’s leadership not being able to provide jobs, social services and education, among others.

“They are frustrated at all parties because I don’t see anyone benefiting from the registration and voting process. The political party leaders underestimate the fact that the people are gatvol and that they have lost confidence in the political party system. There is a sense of hopelessness and despair,” Silke said.

He said there was a strange phenomenon in South Africa where instead of expressing their frustration by voting and participating in the political system, people tended to boycott the polls.

The study showed that the highest proportion are from the lower income groups (63%), with just under one-half (48%) residing in the major metropolitan areas. Of the provinces, Gauteng has the largest number of people who don’t intend to register, at 30%.

The number of voters who cast votes had been dropping since the first non-racial elections in 1994, the survey noted.

Source Citizen

South Africa: IEC reaches out to youth ahead of final voter registration weekend

The Electoral Commission of South Africa hopes to add 1 million more voters to the roll this weekend.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) today said it was ready for the final voter registration weekend taking place on Saturday and Sunday, and hoped at least one million additional voters would be added to the roll.

Addressing media in Centurion, Glenn Mashinini, the IEC chairperson, said preparations were being made for the country’s 22 925 voting stations to open from 8am until 5pm over the weekend. This would allow new voters to register and also allow existing voters to update and confirm their addresses and registration details.

“The electoral commission is ready to conduct voter registration at all our voting stations throughout the country. We wish to reinforce our clarion call to every South African, particular the young people, that this coming weekend provides us with the final opportunity for us to be able to participate in the upcoming elections. This is the last window for every South African to come forward,” said Mashinini.

“We particularly wish to appeal to the young people. As much as we have been successful in that over 70 percent of eligible voters in South Africa are registered, we have demographic information that tells us that we have almost 10 million South Africans who are eligible to vote but are not registered. Almost two thirds of those people are our young people between the ages of 18 and 30.”

Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said voting stations would be staffed by an average of three registration officials to assist voters.

“The electoral commission is hopeful that voters who are registered will use the opportunity to visit their voting stations to check their registration and specifically to confirm and update their address details. Registered voters can also do this online via the ‘click, check and confirm’ facility on the electoral commission’s website at,” said Mamabolo.

Voters should take their barcoded ID book, smart card ID or temporary ID certificates when they go to register. Home affairs offices would also be open countrywide to coincide with registration, meaning eligible voters would be able to collect their ID documents or to obtain a temporary ID certificate in order to register.

Registration for South Africans living abroad will take place at South African foreign missions between February 1 and 4.

Source African News Agency