You have been called apathetic, disinterested, cynical and even disloyal and disrespectful. Much has been written, spoken and philosophised about your political power in numbers yet your ‘reserve your right to vote’ attitude. As a young South African under the age of 29, you make up the majority of our population, making us the youngest population in the world with an average age of around 25 years old. Yet according to the IEC, only 8,4% of young people between the age of 18 and 19 are registered to vote in our upcoming national general election on 7 May. Compare this to the 93% of people aged 60 and above who are registered.
I refuse to believe you are apathetic, disinterested or cynical, because every day, I see scores of you actively looking for ways to improve your lives. I see thousands of you applying for jobs on our Quest website, walking into our offices in all provinces to be assessed, interviewed, registered and matched with available jobs; I see your commitment and hard work during assignments at our clients and I see your enthusiasm and determination to learn and progress your careers.
I see an involved, resolute and committed youth who are most definitely interested in their future. This is why I am URGING YOU TO VOTE in this election and the others that are to follow.
In some of the survey results and articles I have read on this subject, you are quoted as saying you are disillusioned by South African politics, that political parties have failed to make the promised changes in the past and that you have no faith that they will do so in the future. You have also criticised the way in which political parties use the youth in the electioneering and campaigning yet don’t understand who you are, what you want and that they don’t know or understand your struggles.
I have no doubt that you know your history; you know about how your predecessors struggled and fought for their and your right to vote and how the youth were so instrumental in this struggle; with events like those on June 16 in 1976 marking the extreme sacrifice of some. Perhaps however you fail to see what this struggle really means to you today. It is not just history. It demonstrates the power of the youth; it shows how passion, pride, respect and determination can change the world. It serves to remind you of your power and your potential and it calls upon you to be responsible for your future and the future of your country. It asks you to act and participate, to be relevant and effective, to use your power and vote.
The various political parties contesting in this upcoming election have all dedicated much of their focus on ways to create jobs and address our country’s unemployment and resulting poverty, crime etc. As South Africa’s youth, you are arguably going to be most affected by this agenda, their solutions pertaining to education, skills development and job creation will determine how easy or difficult, how successful or how challenging your future will be. Don’t you want a say in this?
Of course you do!
By Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions