The ‘Born-Free’ Generation on Voting
In 2014, elections were held in South Africa, celebrating the 20th year anniversary of the country’s youthful democracy. These events also marked the first occasion in which those born after the end of the apartheid in 1994 were eligible to vote. Unfortunately, in spite of concerted efforts on behalf of ZA’s political parties, youths were – and still are – rarely drawn to the polls. Of the 25 million registered voters in South Africa, only 2.5 percent are millennials, with the Born Frees feeling a certain amount of apathy towards ZA’s democracy and how they view the past twenty years.
There are many reasons that contribute to the youth’s political indifference, but the most jarring one appears to be how millenials view the majority party: the ANC. Over the past several years the ANC has become increasingly aggressive, discriminative, and corrupt. The president – Jacob Zuma – has lost a fair amount of support from the youth, as many believe supporting him is equivalent to supporting unjustified criminal behavior. Due to this, millennials are loathe to vote as they see the government as a lost cause; what’s the use in voting if it won’t change anything?
Besides their view on the corruption and maladministration of the government, there appears to be a plethora of different issues contributing to the Born Frees political disenchantment. Many feel like their school work is too overwhelming and time consuming to take time to vote, while others feel like the government doesn’t care about the youth issues at all, such as funding for university tuition, finding employment, or housing.
Though there is still a small population of millenials that do vote, the country is fundamentally lacking a large part of its voice by not further encouraging the Born Frees to vote. The reality of the situation is troubling for the country’s future, as well as for people like Mmusi Maimane, a member of the Democratic Alliance in Soweto who, in the Guardian’s article “South Africans Vote in First Election for ‘Born Free’ Generation” was asked about the lack of the Born Frees political involvement, and said:
“It is disappointing. This is also their future. I’ve reflected long and hard about this. We have to ask why young people are not more engaged and find new ways to engage them in the future.”
Photo Courtesy of Kyle Taylor/Flickr