Tuesday, May 06, 2014

South Africa's Disillusioned

South Africa’s May 7 elections mark the first time in democratic history that those born into Nelson Mandela’s post-apartheid ‘Rainbow Nation’ can vote. Yet only a third (about 683,000) of eligible born-frees have registered to cast their ballot. It will take more than text messages, Youtube ads and social media campaigns to reach young voters — particularly when a recent survey by independent researchers at FutureFact revealed 64 percent of respondents had “little or no interest” in politics.

“People feel dislocated. They feel politicians do not speak to their interests. They feel voting doesn’t make a difference.” University of the Witwatersrand vice-chancellor and principal Prof Adam Habib explained. 

Twenty-year-old Xolisa Ngcwabe says the current political system has failed young people.
“I don’t really care about voting because I don’t think my vote makes a difference. The government has to deliver and it hasn’t been doing that,” Ngcwabe says of the ANC’s failure to provide basic necessities like running water, school textbooks and functioning toilets to impoverished informal settlements and townships.

“I feel like the government generally doesn’t know what it’s doing and blaming apartheid is a defence mechanism,” 20-year-old Alexandra Goldberg, a University of Cape Town student says.
“It’s very frustrating. Let’s move on from it and actually have a goal here.”

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