Wits professor says that students are eager to vote, but not so eager to vote for a political party

The South African black middle class is struggling to find a political home, according to an article published in Moneyweb on May 4.

Professor David Everatt Wits School of Governance wrote that a survey conducted by the ANC “showed that there are stresses and strains in the body politic in general, many of which are most acutely felt by the black middle class”.

Although there were various definitions of the middle class, ranging “from occupation to income and education to consumption, through to subjective self-identification”, there was still a need to “understand if such a class exists, and what its political behaviour might be”.

Everatt told Wits Vuvuzela that students can define themselves as part of the middle class in two ways: some will have been born into the middle class while others are gathering the requirements, most obviously through their tertiary education, to enter the middle class.

Wits Vuvuzela canvassed the opinions of students who were casting their votes at the Old Mutual Sports Hall on the factors that guided them when looking for a ‘political home’.

Third-year Bachelor of Arts student, Zethu Ngangule, identified herself as working class, but agreed with Professor Everatt that her qualification will allow her to get a better job which will allow her to move to the middle class.

With regard to choosing a political home, the 23-year old said the policies of political parties influenced her choice. She said she was attracted, “if I see that what the political party advocates for is things that are going to liberate black people… or people that have been disadvantaged before”.

However, her choice in political party has changed since she came to Wits, Ngangule told Wits Vuvuzela. “Back then I was going to vote for the ANC because that was what people voted for… Since I’ve been here I think I know more now, I think I’m more informed.. I’ll make a more informed decision,” the Eastern Cape-born Nqangule said.

For Carol Nkhumishe, a first-year BCom Law student, being at university has shaped the way she views politics because of youth engagement with regard to a sharing of varying political opinions.

“You are able to make opinions of your own based on what you want to see in South Africa,” said Nkhumishe, 18.

According to Everatt, data has shown that students are eager to vote but he makes the distinction between being eager to vote and being eager to vote for a political party.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits students queue outside the Old Mutual Sports Hall on May 8 to cast their votes. Photo: Tsholanang Rapoo