The electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and Wits University have launched a youth democracy education and registration campaign.
The IEC and university have embarked on a partnership with the youth at tertiary institutions to grow youth participation in electoral democracy and encourage them to register to vote.
The voter education campaign was launched on the steps of the Wits Great Hall and attended by students, the IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo, Wits University Dean of Students, Jerome September, and the leadership of the Students Representative Council (SRC).
“The campaign is designed to encourage students to be active, engaged and responsible citizens of South Africa’s democracy, as well as make it easier for university students to go online and register to vote,” said the commission.
The campaign’s objectives include enabling an understanding and exercising of youth’s civic and democratic rights and responsibilities; growing an empowered electorate within the student population; cultivating a culture of democracy and active citizenry in the student community; increasing voter registration in the student population; and enhanced voter participation in SRC elections and in national, provincial and local elections.
“The primary aim of this campaign is to cultivate and instil a culture of electoral democracy and active citizenry among students in both the public and private institutions of higher learning, and to enhance voter registration and voter participation in elections. It is our firm belief that engaging students’ views about democracy and elections through voter education-based dialogue will enhance voter participation among this group of the electorate population,” Mamabolo said.
“By partnering with the IEC, we are coming together in building our nation and ensuring that young people who will be leaders in society going forward actively participate, and register to vote in a way that shapes our future and builds our democracy,” September said.
Wits SRC deputy president Lesego Louw said that for her, voting is the “loudest decision” she can make in silence.
“It is young people and young people-led organisations that will lead to change in South Africa and the African continent. It is young people who have led us and will continue to lead us through generational revolutions as agents of progress and bridges to the communities,” Louw said.
She added that it is the youth, who will in 10 years embark on the generational mission to combat rampant youth unemployment, champion against gender-based violence and the marginalisation of the LBTQ+ community, and normalise youth participation in democracy.
“We are an undeniable force of power that is to be reckoned with,” said Louw.