By Arin Barry
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 5 of VARSITY News.
There was a 47% drop in registered 18 and 19-year-olds for the 2019 South African elections compared to the 2014 elections. This raises the question: Are young people disillusioned or simply apathetic when it comes to politics?
The 2019 national and provincial elections have come and gone with the ANC claiming 57.5% of the vote – this being their worst performance in any national election to date. This was followed by the DA with 20.8% of the vote and the EFF with 10.8% of the vote.
Out of 35.9m eligible voters, only 26.7m registered to vote, and only 17.6 actually voted on May 8!
— Suntosh Pillay (@suntoshpillay) May 16, 2019
The number of South Africans under 20 who registered to participate in the 8 May general election has dropped to the lowest level since 1999, data from the Independent Electoral Commission show. The decline in registered voters wasn’t steady either; between 2009 and 2014, there was just a 4% drop, but in the following four years this increased with 43%.
Tswelo, who requested that his last name be concealed to avoid potential harassment, said that he didn’t vote and won’t vote in the future because it won’t make any difference.
“No matter who I vote for things will stay the same. The government will continue to run things however they see fit and nothing will change for me or my people,” he said. “This way I don’t feel frustrated that my vote didn’t matter in the big picture, because I never cast it.”
Many UCT students had similar views or simply didn’t know who to vote for, so they just didn’t vote.
Lulu Van der Merwe had a very different view as she believes that every vote counts and if we don’t register and vote nothing will ever change.
“By voting you get the chance to have your voice be heard, that small cross is so much more than just a vote, it is a symbol of hope. I believe that if everyone who is eligible to vote actually registered and voted, then we could have seen a very different outcome at this election.”