Youth, You Cannot Run Away From The Repercussions Of Not Voting: Just Register and Vote! – By Mpho (MrSir) Matlhabegoane

Youth, You Cannot Run Away From The Repercussions Of Not Voting: Just Register and Vote!

By: Mpho (MrSir) Matlhabegoane

The South African Non-voter: An Analysis, which is a study conducted by Collete Schulz-Herzenberg in 2020, found that in 2019 “only 19% of all eligible 18-19-year-olds actually registered and only 15% of all eligible 18-19-year-olds cast a vote. Only 30% of all eligible 20-29-year-olds voted.” This is an alarming statistic considering the flexibility of the youth and their ability to utilize technology.

Registering to vote is online – that is literally the tip of a thumb away from young people of South Africa, but it seems like scrolling through our Social Media Feeds for hours and hours every day takes the lead in being a bit of a cult to us, instead of making our livelihoods the centre of our heed through a simple and less time-consuming act like voting. I think, maybe, understanding how personal voting really is, and how much impact it has in every second of our lives may be what we need in order to take the initiative in participating in politics.

When the IEC chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, spoke with the Sunday Times politics reporter, Kgothatso Madisa, referring to registering to vote for the 2024 elections, he said, “If you don’t register to vote, you will lose your voice.” For someone who is not quite politically versed, the phrase “losing your voice” might sound too poetic and go over your head. Perhaps a better attempt to explain what it really means to “lose your voice” was made by Azola Ndongeni, a 22-year-old final-year law student at the University of the Western Cape, and a former Parliamentary Media and Research Intern at the Western Cape Provincial Legislature, on her Daily Maverick Article titled: It’s time for the youth of SA to fight to be counted — and that means voting in elections. She said, “When young people abstain from voting, it leads to a lack of representation and skewed decision-making. Politicians are more likely to cater to the needs and wants of their voting constituents, which means that if the youth are not voting, their issues may not be addressed.”

One may ask, “Which issues are we facing as the youth of South Africa that could be eradicated through our votes?” Well, the top three challenges such as the high unemployment levels, capped access to quality education and high crime rates are drastic enough to make your jaw drop, especially if you analyze the data presented by STATS-SA. The average mean of Youth Unemployment Rate in South Africa is 55.88% counting from 2013 up to 2023, based on STATS-SA data collection. This means that for the past 10 years, more than half of us have been unemployed.

High Unemployment rate being a result of little to no job opportunities and not qualifying for the jobs that are available, it is fair to say that capped access to quality education is an unfortunate factor that is in the hands of politicians. Also, the major contributor to crime is unemployment – which is contingent on politics because of the fact that our justice system and law enforcers rely heavily on the government to function effectively and efficiently. When policies and amendments, which are passed by parliamentary representatives, do not favour development for both the public and private sectors, and when the national budget does not prioritize job creation in both the public and private sectors, they could lead unemployment to skyrocket.

This goes to show that, whether we acknowledge it or not, what we often complain about is politically driven and the only way to initiate transformation is to be in control of who represents us in parliament when decisions are made. To be in charge of our representatives is to register to vote, and ultimately cast that vote. Youth, you cannot run away from the repercussions of not voting – just register and vote.


About the author:

Mpho (MrSir) Matlhabegoane is one of the A! Hub Writers. He became an Activator in 2019, and through Activate! Change Drivers, he underwent educational training with Programmes such as SWITCH Entrepreneurship Programme, National Mentorship Movement with Printing SA and Citizen Journalism with The University of Witwatersrand (Wits). He is a Mental Health Awareness Advocate, and to spread mental health awareness, he published three books that have been accepted by Gauteng Department of Education as of 2023, namely: The Story of MrSir (Word For The Record), Expanding The World Of Nerds, and Views and Emotions (Poetry Journal of MrSir).

Related Articles