Young voters critical but hesitant in South Africa

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Child collecting water in Malawi
Child collecting water in Malawi Photo by Daniel Mtombosola on Unsplash

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In this episode of The Kids Are Alright, Leela Rosaz Shariyf speaks with young South Africans about their country’s general election earlier this year.

Shariyf, 15 years old and a student at Miss Porter’s School in the U.S. state of Connecticut, was interested in learning about how other young people in different parts of the world engage with elections.

In South Africa, the general election determines which political party will have the majority in Parliament. The majority is key to deciding who will serve as president and thus become both the head of state and the head of government.

“We vote for a party, not a president. And we don’t have different candidates who hold different public views,” says Rorisang Moseli, a graduate of the University of Capetown, where he held the powerful position of Student Council President.

In this episode, Moseli explains why party involvement is crucial to shaping politics in South Africa.

Listeners learn about the leading political party in South Africa, the African National Congress, as well as the Economic Freedom Fighters and Democratic Alliance. Both parties received a higher percentage in the May election then seen before, taking away seats from the ANC.

Leela also heard from Thabang Matona, a student at the African Leadership Academy, about his experience voting in the general election.

“It felt like a momentous moment in my life,” recalls Thabang, who voted for the first time in May. However, voter turnout was uncharacteristically low for the fledgling democracy, largely due to young people not showing up at the polls.

“I don’t know who to vote for because it’s not connected to my values. It’s not connected to the problems they (young people) stand for,” says Amber Domalik, a young South African woman who recently moved back to Johannesburg after living in the United States.

After speaking with Rori, Thabang and Amber, Leela called Dawie Scholtz, a management consultant in South Africa to understand what the election results mean for the ruling party, the ANC, and the nation.

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