Politics

South African Youth on 2019 Elections: "The ANC can no longer self-correct"

We talked to a few South African youth about who they're voting for and why.

South Africa will be holding its national elections on the 8th of May this year. These elections are set to be the most fiercely contested elections to date and understandably so. It has become a real possibility that Nelson Mandela's beloved African National Congress (ANC) may very well lose these upcoming elections. All this country has ever known is the ANC - the political party of many struggle heroes. And with Apartheid still an open wound far from any true healing, there is a genuine fear for a number of South Africans that under a Democratic Alliance (DA) government, there could be a return to a regime of racial exclusion.


From the heavily fractured and corrupt ruling ANC, to the radical-posturing of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to the consistently inconsistent DA, South Africans are not particularly spoiled for choice. With over 6 million South African youth (under 35 years) having not registered in the last registration weekend (26th-27th January), it seems that this particular group may again have a low voter turnout.

We spoke to a few young South Africans to find out whether they'll be voting, who they'll be voting for and what they hope these upcoming elections will hold for the country's future and prosperity. It was no surprise that none of them expressed much confidence in the ANC. Not many young people feel that the ANC can self-correct and purge itself of the festering rot. What was surprising however, albeit understandable, was the sheer level of anxiety and inner conflict these young people were going through in their attempt to decide who they'd be voting for.


Atang Biyela, 24, Student

Are you going to be voting on the 8th of May?

Yes, I am voting. There is no way that I will not be voting. I am a citizen of this country and it is my democratic right to vote and I will exercise it just as much as I exercise all my other rights. It's only right.

Which political party will you be voting for and why?

I don't know. We have a corrupt ruling party but they're also our struggle heroes and all this democratic country has ever known. You have the DA which seems racist and doesn't seem to have any direction. The DA doesn't have the interests of Black people at heart which means, by default, they don't have the interests of this country as a whole at heart. Personally, I am not radical. I'm not sure how long the EFF can sustain themselves to be honest.

Do you think any of the Big 3 (ANC, EFF and DA) are capable of effectively running SA?

My fear with the EFF is a fear of the unknown. If they take over, how will this affect the economy? It may seem like I'm an 'enemy of progress' or not 'woke' but investor confidence is a real thing which affects people's livelihoods. Last time I voted for the ANC but now I am not sure anymore given the many recent revelations. They really can't rectify things or fix their image. I don't trust them. I'm not willing to give the DA a chance. Seeing how they're governing the Western Cape, I don't like that preview.

What are some other thoughts you'd like to share?

The biggest challenge for me is really just who to vote for.

What is your greatest hope for South Africa regardless of the election outcome?

Given countries like the DRC, Kenya and Nigeria, who have all had elections before us and they haven't been ideal, I just wish ours will be peaceful. I hope that the parties that are campaigning have the people's interests at heart, although we've seen the contrary. It's disheartening but I feel we need to keep bettering our country and voting is one tool to use for that.


Anonymous, 32, Public Health Researcher

Are you going to be voting on the 8th of May?

Yes. I will be voting to make my mark. I think it's important to vote as the power of governing this country is given by voters.

Which political party will you be voting for and why?

I will be voting for the EFF. This is the party that prioritizes the needs of Black people and the poor. In addition, the issue of state capture, the Guptas, the SABC woes and Eskom disaster have all been issues the public has been made aware of because of the EFF. The land without compensation act was primarily an EFF project before the ANC took over.

Do you think any of the Big 3 (ANC, EFF and DA) are capable of effectively running South Africa?

Well the EFF is the only party that caters to the needs of the youth and talks the language of the future. They are the only party that talks about improving security in government schools and bringing change to the decaying health sector. The ANC, however, has cheated us and blindfolded our eyes to think that how they are governing, is all because of Apartheid. I have confidence in the DA, however, I doubt they can run the country because of the racism and segregation existing within the party itself.

What are some other thoughts you'd like to share?

One president in the past took R242 million for the building of his homestead Nkandla while we have a painfully high youth unemployment rate. Maladministration will always prosper if people on the ground do not wake up and vote for change.

What is your greatest hope for South Africa regardless of the election outcome?

I know the ANC will win anyway but my biggest hope is for the ANC to obtain less than half of the vote and have fewer seats in parliament. If we fail to reduce the party's power in office, the next five years will be captured by the likes of billionaire Patrice Motsepe or the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe.


Boitshoko Baloyi, 24, Student

Are you going to be voting on the 8th of May?

Definitely. I've registered to vote simply because we live in a country where we have the privilege to have our voices heard in terms of who we want to rule. Our grandparents fought very hard for that privilege.

Which political party will you be voting for and why?

Before the VBS Mutual Bank scandal, I felt the EFF were fighting for the truth. I concede I don't know their actual manifesto to be honest. The VBS scandal, however, broke my heart. The EFF spend a huge part of their campaign outing the ANC's corruption and yet go on to steal from the poor, the very people they say they're fighting for.

Do you think any of the Big 3 (ANC, EFF and DA) are capable of effectively running South Africa?

The ANC has too many scandals. They have become arrogant in that they think they can act without impunity. They need to see a dent in their votes. I'm definitely not voting for them. They're like a cheating boyfriend. They won't change if we accept their mistreatment. I can't vote for the DA. I can't vote for a party with so many White people. There are so many racists like, for example, Penny Sparrow, who are affiliated with the DA. They're too white for my taste and maybe that is racist but it's the honest truth. Also, they're not particularly pro-DA in themselves, they're just forever anti-ANC.

What are some other thoughts you'd like to share?

The DA, ANC and EFF are the most likely candidates in terms of winning the election. I don't know who to vote for because I feel disappointed in all three for various reasons. I think I'll vote for an underdog minority party that no-one really knows about. But I still need to do my research and really think about it. I want to read their manifestos but they [the parties] don't stick to them. Corruption is not in their manifesto but yet here we're are.


Jeanine Botha, 27, Teacher

Are you going to be voting on the 8th of May?

I will be voting this time around honestly because of peer pressure.

Which political party will you be voting for and why?

Historically, the ANC vs DA dynamic has been seen simultaneously as being Black vs White. Everyone expects all the White people to vote for the DA. But I'm suffering from an existential crisis with regards to race and voting for the DA. Am I only voting for the DA because I want to keep my comfortable White middle-class status quo? Ultimately I will vote for the DA though because I feel they can offer decent opposition to the ANC.

Do you think any of the Big 3 (ANC, EFF and DA) are capable of effectively running South Africa?

For me it's basically all about the ANC and the DA. This binary is because I live in an area that is very much DA vs ANC. I want to vote for a party that I know is actually going to bring about a difference. There have equally been many accusations of corruption in the Western Cape which is run by the DA.

What are some other thoughts you'd like to share?

We're no longer in the position to give the ANC the opportunity to self-correct because it [corruption] only seems to get worse. And in the meanwhile, people are suffering. We need to give the ANC competition so that they're not comfortable but in the same breath, who do we then vote for? Is the DA as kosher as they purport to be? Maimane uses every opportunity to make a jab at the ANC or another political party. I think that's quite annoying and not useful.

What is your greatest hope for South Africa regardless of the election outcome?

That would be for us to stop focusing on our differences and learn to truly care for our fellow South Africans, regardless of race, gender, religion and whatever other differences we get so hung up about.


Mosangoaneng Leteane, 24, Student

Are you going to be voting on the 8th of May?

I will be voting, yes.

Which political party will you be voting for and why?

I don't see who is really carrying the democratic project right now, leadership-wise. I don't know. I will tell you that people want change and the EFF is saying things that I personally find refreshing. We need a voice that can make controversial statements and unsettle the discourse. But as an actual government, I'm not sure. The ANC has been a government for a long time but even they're still not getting it right either.

Do you think any of the Big 3 (ANC, EFF and DA) are capable of effectively running South Africa?

I don't know. And this is still a huge anxiety for me. The ANC can no longer self-correct. They need a regeneration of their politics overall. ANC politics aren't as diverse as we think they are. The DA is not even an option for me. Like I said, the EFF is important to challenge the status quo.

What are some other thoughts you'd like to share?

I wasn't going to register to vote. I felt incredibly betrayed but a few things shook me. One of them was the fact that people died. Daily we see the aftermath of Apartheid. A heavy price was paid for my being able to vote. Currently, in various parts of the world, there are people who can't vote and we take it for granted. It's bigger than just one political party. Elections may not fix things instantaneously, but there's a moral obligation to vote.

What is your greatest hope for South Africa regardless of the election outcome?

My hope would be to go back to our founding values, to the fundamentals and to the very beginning. I hope we remember why we began the democratic project in the first place: the rule of law, equality and human dignity. However, it requires we take ownership of where we've gone wrong. It will get better though and I have a lot of hope in our youth. It will just take time.

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