As the 2024 national election approaches, a recent study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) reveals a significant lack of enthusiasm among South African youth. The study commissioned by the Electoral Commission of South Africa indicates that more than 80% of young people remain undecided about casting their votes, while a substantial number contemplate abstaining from the democratic process altogether.
One of the primary reasons behind this disengagement is the deepening distrust and discontent towards democracy and political institutions, particularly among the youth demographic. In a recent survey, a staggering 82% of young individuals expressed their intention to abstain from voting in the upcoming election, highlighting a profound dissatisfaction with democratic leaders.
Samela Mtyingizane, spokesperson for the HSRC, emphasized that dissatisfaction with leaders plays a dominant role in the youth’s disinterest in voting, with 87% expressing dissatisfaction. The study also sheds light on the youth’s negative views towards core political institutions, witnessing a decline in confidence for political parties and all spheres of government.
According to Mtyingizane, the findings suggest that the youth perceive their individual votes as insignificant in influencing meaningful change. Additional factors contributing to their disillusionment include perceived corruption, poor socio-economic conditions, unfulfilled promises by politicians, and a notable concern about issues such as load shedding.
Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal emerge as the regions with the highest numbers of undecided young voters, reflecting a broader trend of skepticism and discontentment that could significantly impact the upcoming election. As South Africa navigates these challenges, addressing the concerns of the youth and rebuilding trust in democratic processes becomes crucial for fostering a more engaged and participatory electorate.