Webinar stresses need for young people to vote

Webinar stresses need for young people to vote. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Webinar stresses need for young people to vote. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Published Feb 20, 2024


The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) hosted a webinar on Monday about South African young people participating in the coming national elections.

The webinar featured several keynote speakers, including the NYDA’s executive director, Karabo Mohale; Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) senior outreach manager Moagisi Sibanda; Tebogo Motlana of Activate Change Drivers (ACD); founder of Strictly MoAfrika Kitso Mojadibe; NYDA board members Alexandria Procter and Nondumiso Zwane; and NYDA co-director Sarah Mokwebo.

Sibanda spoke about the IEC’s role and its importance in this year’s elections. She explained that the IEC had 3 000 members known as Democracy Education Facilitators (DEFs), who educated and engaged with the public, especially young people, about the mandate of elections in a democratic country.

She added that the facilitators gave a sense of inclusivity by interacting with marginalised groups, such as people with disabilities and inmates to help them to exercise their democratic right to vote.

The IEC, according to Sibanda, has teamed up with SABC Education to spread awareness about the significance of voting. This is done through community radio stations, national TV and radio stations, and social media.

“Young people are our target market – they are the least represented on the voters roll,” she said.

Citizens could register and check their registration status on the IEC’s WhatsApp chat box, she said.

Last year, in November, the IEC reported that 78% of voter registrations were by people under the age of 29.

Sibanda said the IEC conducted a Voters Participation Survey (VPS) to get updated information on the number of registrations in different age groups.

“VPS shows older people are consistent voters in every election, as they have voted before.”

She said although young people made up the largest group of eligible voters, many were disgruntled.

“The public, in particular young people, have lost their trust in the IEC.”

Several political parties, including the DA, Cope and the EFF, accused the IEC of “double voting” in the 2019 national elections.

Motlana explained that his organisation had partnered with the IEC to promote civic education and encourage voting in schools and universities.

“We help the youth to hold local government officials accountable in communities, and provide alternative solutions to end social issues,” he said. The ACD urged the government to digitise its content because young people don’t have time to read. “Young people hardly read content; there’s tons of content to consume in a small period of time,” he said.

Mojadibe also stressed the importance of young people registering to vote.

“Young people need to make a change, make use of their democratic right. Political parties need young people to participate, and give them a voice to offer solutions in social issues. In 2030, young people will be in the forefront of leadership positions,” he said.

Mojadibe urged the youth to educate themselves on local governance, read party manifestos before voting, and understand the party’s vision.

Sibanda pointed out that citizens could register for special votes, such as essential workers or those living overseas.

The Star