South African Youths Moves To Take The Helm Of Nation’s Future

South African Youths Moves To Take The Helm Of Nation's Future
South African Youths Moves To Take The Helm Of Nation's Future

In a reminiscent spirit of 1994’s democratic breakthrough, South African youths are taking the helm of their nation’s future, evidenced by their pronounced presence in the 2024 general elections. Young citizens, like 21-year-old Enzokuhle Sabela who participated as an election observer, are a testament to this emerging wave of democratic engagement.

At the close of a bustling voting day, Sabela, amidst fatigue, stood witness to a remarkable voter turnout in Durban. As one of the 1000-plus observers, predominantly youth, his sense of duty was to contribute to the fairness and integrity of the contentious 7th national elections.

“These elections have shown a positive shift,” remarked Sabela, admiring the IEC’s modern and technologically supported voting operations, despite minor tech-related setbacks that were adeptly managed by the electoral team.

This surge of youth involvement follows a period of low participation in 2019, prompting initiatives by civil society entities and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to promote active electoral participation across the country.

GroundWork Collective and cognate organizations have mobilized the youth, advocating engagements that encompass voter registration, education on governmental functions, and the selection of election observers.

With the nation’s democracy maturing at 30 years, this election saw a multitude of South Africans casting votes across all nine provinces, embracing both national and provincial decisions.

Observers like Sabela performed a critical role inconfining their experiences into a communal app system, allowing for a collective analysis and reflection on the election’s credibility.

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Participation transcended mere observance. For Sabela, it was about gaining insights and understanding the democratic process. “Being part of this historic moment means seeing firsthand the unfolding of our democracy and how I can be part of its growth,” he reflected.

Despite technological hiccups with the Voter Management System causing delays and elongated queues, the determination of voters remained unfazed, emphasizing the profound importance of observer roles.

Voices from voting stations spoke of challenges and systematic adjustments, with presiding officers managing with patience and diligence to maintain order and progress.

Sabela, together with other youths, envisions an era where democratic engagement is more than an obligation, it’s about shaping a South African legacy, earnestly advancing the nation’s democratic journey.

Defend Our Democracy (DOD), a human rights defense non-profit, orchestrated the Election Watch campaign to encourage young observers. The campaign strives for grassroots empowerment and nation-wide oversight.

Zaakirah Vadi from DOD noted, “Our aim is to enfranchise the common civic participant, allowing them a pivotal role over the electoral process.”

Observers play a non-interventionist but critical role as monitors to guard against any electoral mishaps or disputes, fulfilling DOD’s objective in bolstering electoral transparency and confidence.

With this trend of youthful engagement and aspirations of shaping their own future, the term ‘youth’ in South Africa encapsulates a profound force, one to be recognized and embraced as the nation advances democratically.

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