Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

South Africa launched a significant voter registration campaign on Saturday to address widespread apathy ahead of the upcoming national elections next year. Polling stations across the country opened their doors for a two-day exercise aimed at encouraging potential voters to register or verify their details.

Facing issues such as poor services, a prolonged energy crisis, and a struggling economy, many South Africans have become disillusioned with their government. Over the years, voter numbers have steadily declined, with only 49 percent of eligible voters turning up for the last elections in 2019.

The ongoing trend of declining participation, especially among the youth, is a concern. In 2019, only 15 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 19 and 30 percent of those aged 20 to 29 cast their votes. The electoral commission made a call on social media, urging young people to “gather your squad and hit a registration station,” emphasizing the need for the 14 million unregistered youth to step up.

However, not everyone responded to the appeal. Some registration stations reported low turnout, with empty chairs and political representatives engaged in casual activities rather than assisting potential voters. The ruling African National Congress (ANC), once highly esteemed, has faced challenges with allegations of corruption and mismanagement, potentially leading to a drop in its vote share in the 2024 elections.

Despite the disaffection with the ANC, there is no clear shift in support towards the opposition. Some individuals expressed a lack of interest in registering, citing a lack of appealing options in South African politics dominated by “old people.” The electoral commission announced that the elections will be held between May and August next year. President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged party activists to campaign vigorously, emphasizing the ANC’s ability to govern the country.

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