A woman studies the ballot paper before making her mark to cast her vote in local municipality elections, in a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, May 18, 2011. Some 23 million voters were registered at 20,000 polling stations across this country, and the results are likely to have an impact on national politics. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Durban - South Africa’s youngest voters may shatter expectations when they enter polling booths on Wednesday, according to a recently published survey.

On April 29, digital research company Answered released a study of attitudes among potential young voters, drawing on a 400-person sample of South Africans aged 18 to 29.

The findings indicated that, contrary to popular belief, young urban South Africans were almost universally critical of the government as well as highly invested in their country’s political future.

“What surprised us was, we almost came in expecting to measure the level of apathy,” answered managing director, Jacqui Greeff.

“There’s a sense that the youth are not as interested in the running of the country, in the politics of the day, as the previous generation was. But our biggest finding… was that they are anything but apathetic.”

In particular, she pointed to statistics indicating the gap between strong patriotic sentiment and dissatisfaction with the current ANC regime.

While 96 percent of the respondents indicated the importance of South Africa becoming a “world-class country”, nearly the same number - 94 percent - had little confidence that this could happen unless the government improved.

Plus, only 15 percent of youth believe the ANC-led government is strong, which “feels like an indictment”, according to Greeff.


Intention to vote aside, the study highlighted several other trends among young people, including the decreased importance of race and family voting history


The Mercury