By Lebogang Victor Ditsebe
Many young people in South Africa are disillusioned with politics, simply leading to many young people not having a keen interest to be active citizens to address the status quo which hinders their appetite to possibly count the ballot in the upcoming 2024 general elections.
Regarding young people’s disappointment with how the current state of South Africa is, this leads to a greater gap of youth becoming active citizens, and acquiring the appetite to address the current status quo. Additionally, with this increasing lack of appetite for youth being active change drivers, there has been murmuring and discontent of many feeling that their unemployment status is not being addressed by the government, leaving thousands of youth lacking the necessary skills which can propel them to access the job market.
Although there is a comforting thought that many civil society organizations like Activate Change Drivers are doing their level best to bring young people on board to be pioneers of change and pillars of hope in their communities – there still remains an elephant in the room of youth feeling the brunt of this unemployment pandemic which leads to a further deterioration of young people’s mental health, as they can’t address their immediate needs to unleash their fullest potential and alleviate their families from poverty and hopelessness.
Instead, the South African government has been dubbed as lacking the necessary agility and innovative abilities to drive social change by providing an improved sense of hope with increasing employment prospects for the marginalized and unemployed youth, with current unemployment statistics remaining staggeringly high.
According to Trading Economics, the youth unemployment rate in South Africa, measures job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, rose to 61% in the fourth quarter of 2022, up from an over two-year low of 59.6% in the previous period – substantially this brings to question the remaining youth age groups between 24 and 35, what possible percentage of unemployment will youth still endure in the remaining quarter of 2023 and with the upcoming 2024 general elections?
This indeed brings to question how can young people in South Africa become optimistic in the face of this hovering unemployment pandemic, and in which possible way can the conversation of nation-building be taken to our communities despite the possibilities of disinterested young people and their families – there can only be three possible avenues that we as youth leaders who are part of Activate Change Drivers and youth in South can drive a positive narrative and outcome for increasing vote education and active citizenry tabulated below;
- Community mapping which entails identifying important key players, who can possibly be able to assist in driving your message on social change.
- Stakeholder mobilization that allows us to contract important key figures who can be part of our conversations and the value of their presence in our conversations which will drive change and influence community narratives.
- Share stories which bring history into the context of how young people drove change, for instance, the 1976 youth uprising in Soweto.
- Use relatable language for fellow community members, which will allow your message to be easily engaged.
- The agility to inspire youth to have ethics and take responsibility for their actions also to believe that 2024 is our 1994, and the challenges we are currently facing can either become worse because of being inactive in addressing the status quo which will jeopardize voter outcome, or we can be extinguishing figures in our local communities by going out in 2024 to vote for change.
Finally, as change drivers, we are presented with an opportunity to take inspiring and provoking conversations with our communities on nation-building and voter awareness, and education this coming June 16 and present our ideas of how we can turn staggering challenges into possible opportunities of holding government accountable and ensuring we make our voices heard on tables of decision making.
About the author:
Lebogang Victor Ditsebe, is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers writers hub, a social journalist and activist. Proudly a 2018 activator from Kimberley Northern Cape, passionate about climate change, and an optimist whose dreams are rooted in working towards a better South Africa for all.