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Youth need to understand politics: students

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As youth, we have been told this time and time again. Your vote counts. But today, in South Africa, youth have said that they do not know who to vote for because none of the major political parties are appealing to them. These youth are disengaged from what is going on in the political sphere that they do not even understand that politics affects them at a local level and affects them in their communities, however small or big these communities are.

Over the past year, universities across South Africa have come under fire for their policies and for the tuition they charge students to study at their institutions. When it came to these protests, students rallied together and their voices were heard. But why now, at a most crucial election period are some youth still refusing to vote?

VOC News visited the University of Stellenbosch to speak to the student affiliated bodies of the three main political parties in South Africa, namely the Democratic Alliance (DA), the African National Congress (ANC), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to find out why they think that youth are so disengaged from politics and to what they as parties are doing to encourage more youth participation in the upcoming elections.

Inge Odendaal, DASO chairwoman on campus (DA affiliated)

“For me the DA policies that make the most sense. Their policies provide the most growth for the community and within the economy

The values of freedom, fairness and opportunity I believe it speaks to all South Africans.
We are living in a period of South Africa where we see that some youth are not fully engaged in politics and I understand that conversations like land reform and what is going on in parliament, they are not as interested in it.

It’s not just in South Africa where we see that youth are disengaged from politics I believe that there are two reasons. Firstly, the youth are not interested in politics additionally it could be government failure. A lot of time when you mention politics, people have a negative connotation and it’s very bad because they become disengaged with what is going on in the local community and what we see with local government elections it is very important for young people to know what is going on in their community.

Some parties also don’t appeal to some people, someone sent me a message on Facebook the other day saying that they don’t know who to vote for because all of the political parties have some good traits and then all of them have some negative traits.

Stellenbosch is a DA run municipality so the majority of the support is with DASO and the DA. However, if we speak about youth in general we can see that the EFF has a large young voter support I believe that the reason behind this is that the EFF has a lot of young candidates running in the wards and many of their tactics is also very much appealing to the youth so I believe that the EFF has put themselves out there as a party for the young people.

To encourage youth to participate in the upcoming elections I would state that when you are involved you don’t have to tackle the world’s problems start with what’s wrong at home.

For instance on campus we focus on issues that students face on campus like not being able to afford tertiary tuition and a lack on housing on campus. To become involved in what is happening around you is the start to growing our voter participation.”

Thulani Hlatswayo, branch secretary of SASCO Stellenbosch
“From the get go, I was just ANC. I was hyped up in Matric by the vibe of the Economic Freedom Fighters, but then at a later stage I realised that I actually prefer the ANC.  I think that SASCO has a big presence on this campus because a lot of the issues are being championed by SASCO and through various other organisations as well. SASCO was also a part of the open Stellenbosch movement when it was established.

I must make note of the fact that SASCO is independent we are only aligned to the ANC as a mother body so if we decide to separate ourselves from the ANC we can do that.  However, Stellenbosch is a white dominated area and we are in a town that is DA governed so it is quite difficult to get the majority of students to be on board with SASCO, but we by all means try to serve all students so I do think that SASCO has a large impact on campus.

On this campus youth are more disengaged from politics, to them politics is just a matter of opinion they are not politically affiliated, but they are more apolitical. The youth make their choices based on opinions they get from the news or from peers and they form opinions based on that.

I would encourage youth to become in the door to door campaigns that are being run by every political party and it is important because you get to be closer to the people in the community you get to be a force that works on the ground level you get to hear their issues. Youth must also engage with leaders of parties to address issues that they are faced with.”

Phile Mokhale, EFF party on campus
“I got to understand how politics affect my career and I felt that the ruling party and other political parties are not actually representing black people and especially poor black people so that is how I became involved with the EFF on campus.

Youth must get to know how politics affects their daily lives. We as the EFF discuss things that students complain about on the ground. There is also a growing EFF presence on campus because we believe in free quality education and there are a lot of people that cannot afford to pay for themselves here.

Elections are taking place next week Wednesday the 3rd of August and to have a say in your future all youth that are registered are encouraged to go to the voting station because your vote will have an impact on how your country is governed.” VOC (Umarah Hartley)

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