Under-30s confident their vote can be vital – survey

Published May 24, 2024


Young people are ready to cast their vote as a recent election survey by Varsity Vibe of more than 11 000 participants saw 93.62% of those under 30 believing that their vote can influence the country’s future political landscape.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) voter registration data shows close to 5 million (4 952 250) voters between the ages of 18 and 29 are registered to vote.

Varsity Vibe, a student discount platform, wanted to know what came to mind for South African youth ahead of the upcoming national elections.

The survey was conducted between April 29 and May 13 and respondents were between the ages of 19 and 28 years old. The survey garnered responses from 11 034 participants.

According to Varsity Vibe, 93.62% of Gen Z individuals who participated in the survey, the generation born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, believe that their vote can influence the country’s future political landscape.

When asked about their intentions to vote in the upcoming 2024 May elections, a similarly high percentage of 92.58% expressed their intention to vote.

Further findings saw 44% say they felt “adequately represented” by existing political parties, while the remaining 56% “expressed a profound sense of exclusion within these parties and in the decision-making processes”.

“Our survey revealed that only 36% of respondents believe that political parties adequately address these concerns and priorities of the youth in South Africa.”

Among factors identified as influencing their voting behaviour, was trust or distrust in current political parties and leaders (62.11%) and the previous delivery of political parties (62.29%), Varsity Vibe said.

Social media was also found to “significantly shape the youth’s perception of political parties and leaders”, with 77.25% of respondents consuming political content on these platforms, the youth platform said.

When asked about the most effective marketing platforms in influencing their vote, 43.10% of respondents cited platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, while 62.88% of respondents preferred speeches and debates, “indicating a preference for more direct and substantive forms of communication”.

National Coloured Congress (NCC) youth leader Joseph Jacobs said many young people had felt let down by political parties, but he continued to advocate for them to become involved in the political landscape to effect change.

“For us to have a next generation, we as the current generation, have a role to play now, to put things in place.

Young people have been let down, political parties have made promises every election. They say young people we are going to create jobs, we’ll do this and that for young people, but nothing has materialised. Youth unemployment remains high, even those that do matriculate, some with qualifications still struggle to find a proper job.”

Cape Times