Are political parties doing enough to draw in young voters?

Youngsters told EWN they don’t see a reason for their participation in the polls if young people won’t benefit in the long run.

A youth activist participates in EWN's Politics Sphithiphithi podcast. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - As the country edges closer to the 8 May elections, political parties have been advised to focus their attention on critical issues that affect young people if they want the youth to vote.

Eyewitness News spoke to several young people about the upcoming elections after several polls showed that millions of young eligible voters were not interested in casting their ballots.

Political analyst Sam Mkokeli said political parties were not focusing on what matters.

“The economic aspect of it is not at the centre of the debates and yet this is where the problem primarily is.”

Student Mpho Ndaba (25) agreed that political organisations were not speaking to his needs.

“Forming the educational policy to actually include and humanise queer people and not conforming people, that’s one immediate thing. But when I think of the South African state, in a global sense, there are things that concern me as a young person, [like] climate change [sic].”

Youth Lab member Lwazi Khoza said if parties wanted young people to vote, they must change their strategies.

“The system of politics in South Africa is very top-down, there is a top-to-down approach and there is no level of consultation.”

The youngsters said they didn’t see a reason for their participation in the polls if young people wouldn’t benefit in the long run.

WATCH: Politics Sphithiphithi: Why SA’s youth is not interested in voting (Part 1)

There are also questions about whether the participation of young people in student politics will translate into votes by young people.

In the recent past, student activism has been central to changes witnessed in institutions of higher learning, with political parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters drawing massive support from traditionally African National Congress-aligned formations.

Mkokeli said there was no guarantee that active participation by young people in student politics would result in them coming out to vote.

“It’s going to be interesting to see when you get the results whether there’s any correlation between student activism and political party movement developments,” he said.