free hit counter code ‘Pensioners shouldn’t lead’: Gen Z speaks out ahead of elections –

‘Pensioners shouldn’t lead’: Gen Z speaks out ahead of elections

With just hours before most South Africans cast their votes in the election, many young people have shared their frustration with the current political landscape.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) revealed a significant influx of new voters since November 2023, with 77% of the 1.2 million new registrants comprising people under the age of 29.

This demographic is poised to be a game-changer, and expectations are running high for the youth to spearhead a transformative shift in the country’s trajectory.

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Young voters’ frustrations

A recent survey by Varsity Vibe revealed that 93.62% of Gen Z individuals believe their vote can influence the country’s future political landscape.

This confidence in the power of their vote suggests a strong desire to shape the future and bring about meaningful change.

Furthermore, 92.58% of the more than 11 000 respondents expressed their intention to vote on Wednesday.

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However, the youth’s enthusiasm for political engagement is not without its challenges. Many who expressed their discontent with the ruling government said they felt ignored and unseen.

They added that South Africa’s political parties are not doing enough to engage with them.

Demand for representation

A recurring theme was the desire to see younger, more relatable representatives at the forefront of politics, rather than older people who may be out of touch with the concerns and needs of Gen Z.

This sentiment is echoed in the words of one respondent, who stated: “It’s useless to have leaders who are of pension age to make decisions for the country when they might not even be alive in the next 10 years.”

“We currently do not feel represented in these parties at all, they always want to hear our opinions, but I feel like they are not obligated to act on them. Once we have some youth leaders in their parties and in parliament, our views and suggestions become actionable,” said another young voter.

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One respondent suggested parties could better collaborate with the youth if they talked to them and listened to their needs and ideas.

“The youth of South Africa is incredibly knowledgeable and creative; we know what we want.

“I believe political parties could better engage with us by understanding our unique concerns such as education, employment, climate change, and social justice, leveraging social media and technology to reach out and discuss their policies, involving us in the political process through volunteering, internships, or running young candidates for office, conducting educational programmes about the importance of voting and how the political process works, and addressing barriers to voting by simplifying the process and providing clear instructions.”

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Influences on voting decisions

The survey found that Gen Z’s decisions on who to vote for are influenced by multiple factors including conversations with friends, the opinions of family, celebrity support and social media influencers.

Almost 8 000 revealed that they would cast their votes based on their own knowledge and the promises made by political parties. But more than 6 300 said they would vote based on the previous performance of political parties.

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Some of those who would not be participating in the elections on Wednesday said their decision was down to a lack of interest.

47.53% of the respondents said they did not register to vote, while 19.22% thought their vote would not make a difference.

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