By Mikhail Manuel
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 10 of VARSITY News.
The SRC elections have just concluded and statistics show that 75 percent of students did not vote. Were you one of them? Our country’s National Elections are early next year. Will you be among the majority that don’t vote, again? We must realise that we will inherit this country, regardless of the state that it is in. So, it is in our interest to participate in the upcoming elections.
One of the easy assumptions from a low voter turnout is apathy. However, I detest the notion that young people do not care about their future and I reject the notion that students are uninterested in exercising their democratic right to vote. Democratic voting is, after all, determining the direction of your community. Voting decides who will represent the interests of the broader community on issues that affect their daily lives. Who will be the student that sits on the university’s engagement team during the catering staff strikes? Who will be the student that sits on the university’s budget team when student fees are determined? That is what we are deciding for when we vote for an SRC. As a student populus, we’ve made our choices – to abstain or to participate. As a broader student body, we will be represented by leaders that were elected by 25 percent of our community. So, if over the course of 2019, we discover that UCT student governance is run by people who do not have the best interests of all students at heart, we should not be surprised. Yet, I don’t believe that we, as young people, deserve leaders who will not put all UCT students first, or on a national level, will not want to create one South Africa for all.
It is unfortunately rare for entire nations to vote in an election, but it is an ideal for which we must strive. To achieve it, we must vote and vote in our masses. And to vote, we must register and register in our masses. Nationally, we are clear on what is happening. The economy is in recession. The country is bleeding jobs in every province except the Western Cape. Petrol is more expensive than ever before. We have a new Finance Minister, yet again, after his predecessor, whom we saw as one of our last hopes, dropped the bomb of a corrupt relationship with the infamous Gupta family. This is the country that we are inheriting. This is the state of our national community. I am certain that not a single citizen wants to live in a dysfunctional country. Unfortunately, we are teetering incredibly close to the edge. So, what do we do? We change it. As young people, this is our future after all.
We inherit our national economy after our four-year degree. The stark reality is that we will inherit our economy, regardless of the state that the governing party of the day leaves it in. As full-time students, we are shielded from directly contributing to the economy or carrying the burden of a high unemployment rate. Nonetheless, as soon as our student careers end, we become fully exposed to the realities of our country. So, after your four-year degree, what type of country do you want to inherit? As young people in South Africa, we should have the loudest voice in that decision. We must vote in the 2019 National Elections, and to do that we must register to vote now.
This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.