Today marks the last day of campaigning for all contesting political parties across the country and the youth of Eldorado Park - an area that has been besieged by drugs and unemployment - can’t wait to cast their vote for a party that will create jobs and resolve the issue of substance abuse.
While other youth in the community have given up on politicians and said they would not vote, 30-year-old Alberto Painteliz said unemployment had impaired his dignity and he was going to vote with the hope that a new government would give them jobs.
“Yes I am going to vote. If you don’t work, people treat you as nobody and if you are working people respect you more.
“I don’t know why it is all about employment, that people’s respect comes from being employed. So I am training children to cut hair. I do believe one day I will reach my goals. My goals are to have a barber school one day,” said Painteliz.
Asked what he would like a new government to do for the youth of Eldorado Park, Painteliz said employment and crime should be the first priority for the new administration.
“I believe if there is job creation, there will be less crime and less drug abuse and a better community.
“As you can see, young people over there are drinking and doing nothing, this is because of frustration,” said Painteliz adding that being a devout Christian had helped him avoid being a drug and substance abuse victim like the majority of the youngsters in the coloured township, south of Joburg.
And 32-year-old David Chakela, who started cutting hair from the backyard of his home after many years of struggling to find a job, also said he was going to vote for a government that was going to give the youth jobs and eliminate crime in the area.
“At the moment the challenge is that young people don’t have jobs even if they have qualifications; they sit at home without jobs and end up getting involved in crime,” said Chakela.
However, Jennifer Kameel, 21, said she was not going to vote because nothing was going to change. “I don’t think voting for any party is going to make any difference because you see how long the ANC has been in power and we don’t see any difference.
“People are still waiting for houses and education. They are supposed to build schools and houses, but they don’t deliver on their promises.
“The challenges we are facing here are drugs, unemployment, lack of skills and high child pregnancy. If the government can provide us with jobs, more skills and job centres for us youth - especially drop-outs because there are many drop-outs in Eldorado Park,” said Kameel.
Elly Baker, the 25-year-old mother of an 8-month-old daughter, shared similar sentiments with the other youth who have lost hope in politicians.
“What is the use of voting if you can’t get a proper job? When the crime rate is high and schools are like basically corrupt? So why must we vote?”
Baker said she endorsed the recent service delivery protests which were taking place in her community because they were for housing.
Asked which party would help her realise her aspirations, Baker said: “I basically don’t know because I consider all political parties to be corrupt.”
“Voting is like putting money into another man’s pocket”, lamented 30-year-old recovering drug addict James Malgas.
“It is my third time coming from drug rehab. It is difficult to stay out of drugs in an area where drugs are easily accessible. I hope this time I stay clean forever. There is hopelessness for the youth in this area. There is nothing for us to do to keep our minds focused.”