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The Spirit of the 2024 National Elections in Mt Ayliff Amongst Youth

Written by Zikhona Mtwa


The youth of South Africa have always been at the forefront of social change and political activism. From the iconic Soweto Uprising to the #FeesMustFall movement, young South Africans have consistently demonstrated their passion for driving meaningful transformation. Over the years, I've often found myself wondering why many people my age, often referred to as Millennials (those born in the 1990s) and Generation Z (those born in the 2000s), don't seem interested in voting. Whenever the topic is brought up, I've noticed a common response: "What's the point? The African National Congress (ANC) will win regardless," or "I am too lazy to go register and vote." Now, as the 2024 National Elections draw near, they are harnessing their collective energy to make their voices heard through the ballot box.



In frequent conversations and political discourse, people consistently emphasise the significance of the upcoming elections. They are drawing parallels between 2024 and the pivotal year of 1994 in the nation's history. This comparison is not made lightly; rather, it carries deep meaning and underscores the importance of participating in the electoral process. Essentially, what they mean by saying "2024 is our 1994" is that just as the elections in 1994 brought about significant changes and shaped the course of events, they believe that the upcoming elections in 2024 have the potential to do the same. This sentiment highlights the profound impact that voting can have on shaping the future direction of the nation. It's a reminder that each vote cast is a voice heard in shaping the path forward for the country.

 

Youth-led initiatives are organising town halls, where aspiring politicians engage directly with young voters, addressing their concerns and outlining their visions for the country's future. As the 2024 national and provincial elections draw near, people are paying close attention to their significance. This upcoming election holds special importance because it marks 30 years since the end of apartheid and the beginning of democracy in South Africa. The end of apartheid, a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination, was a monumental moment in the country's history. It signified a transition towards a more inclusive and equal society, where all citizens regardless of race would have equal rights and opportunities. Since the dawn of democracy in 1994, South Africa has made significant strides in various areas, including political, social, and economic development. However, SA’s 2024 national and provincial elections will play out in a time that’s deeply troubled by an unrelenting energy crisis, sustained high inflation, high crime and high unemployment, rampant corruption, and water scarcity. As such, these elections provide an opportunity for the electorate to assess the progress made and make decisions that will shape the country's future trajectory.

 

In today’s fast-paced world, dominated by social media, where every moment is documented and shared, the fear of missing out, commonly referred to as FOMO, has become an ever-present reality for many young people. The overwhelming pressure of being left out can be intense, whether it's missing out on social gatherings, travel experiences, or trendy events. Historically, South Africa has grappled with voter apathy, especially among the younger demographic. However, as the nation gears up for the 2024 National Elections, there's a noticeable shift in attitudes, particularly among the youth in Mt Ayliff. Excitement and anticipation are palpable, largely fuelled by the power of social media and a collective determination among young people to actively shape the future of their nation. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook serve as vibrant hubs for discussions on policies, candidates, and the crucial role of voting in shaping the trajectory of the country.


Image source: Instagram stories of youth in Mt Ayliff


The youth in Mt Ayliff are leveraging the digital stage to amplify their voices and rally their peers towards civic engagement. Hashtags such as #YouthVoteSA and #MyVoteMyFuture are gaining traction, accompanied by compelling messages urging fellow youth to register and exercise their democratic right. The impact of this movement is not limited to the digital realm; it extends to real-life interactions in spaza shops, taverns, and the community's stadium during soccer matches. In these settings, young South Africans are frequently engaging in conversations about voter registration, questioning each other on whether they have registered, and emphasising the ease of the process, that it has been made easier where one can now do it online through their cell phones. The convenience of online registration, available anytime and anywhere, from the comfort of one's home, is a recurring theme in these discussions. The power of social media and community engagement has had a tangible effect on me as well. Influenced by the pervasive social media buzz and the conversations happening in various community spaces, I also decided to register to vote, as the clock was ticking to the final day of online registration, which was Friday, the 23rd of February.

 

As the 2024 National Elections draw near, the spirit of change in Mt Ayliff is undeniable. The youth are not just spectators in this democratic process; they are catalysts for progress, agents of empowerment, and champions of a better tomorrow. Their enthusiasm, fuelled by social media connectivity and a shared sense of purpose, serves as a beacon of hope for a more inclusive and participatory democracy in South Africa.

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