With municipal elections taking place next week, the top three contenders are vying for the youth vote. Earlier this year, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has expressed concern about apathy among young voters who make up 66% of the population according to Stats SA.
The African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), all list internet access and combating unemployment as top priorities to meet the needs of 18-35 year olds. Five million youths are unemployed, making up two thirds of unemployment in the country.
In a pamphlet, the ANC is promising “100% Wi-Fi connectivity by 2019” and has placed a heavy emphasis on e-learning. This includes investing in an e-learning system, the development of the Massive Open Online Varsity and the creation of an Innovation Hub, in partnership with Wits, to support information technology (IT) and digital media work opportunities.
The ANC says it is also placing importance on job training, with youth empowerment opportunities and programmes.
The main focus of the DA’s campaign, “Vote for Change”, is also centred on job creation. In order to address high unemployment rates, the party promises to “vigorously develop small businesses” through a transparent tender system, encourage entrepreneurship and the improvement of administration and infrastructure.
It also plans to implement graduate recruitment programmes for municipal offices. The DA also promises to increase the number of treatment options available to the youth for substance abuse, particularly in Cape Town.
The EFF has also promised to implement unlimited Wi-Fi in public spaces, including schools, parks, universities and public transport stations. The party also aims to implement free quality education by implementing an education tax for corporations. The EFF encourages students to attain post-graduate education and plans to provide scholarships for study abroad.
Another aspect of the EFF’s manifesto, which will be of interest to the youth, is the changing of street names that are named after apartheid beneficiaries. These will instead be named after the EFF’s heroes.
Elections will take place on Wednesday August 3, 2016 at polling stations countrywide.