Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Doing it for the first time

By Cindy Witten
22 April 2009

As the 2009 General elections starts, political interest amid young South Africans is at an all-time high. Amongst others, many first time voters will take to the polls.

The voting process (source: http://www.elections.org.za )

Because most young people were not actively involved with the apartheid struggle, emotional voting will not necessarily play a role when making a decision on who to vote for. Last week Bush Radio arranged an open discussion, to which we invited first time voters to openly discuss the general elections.

With each new generation comes a new way of thinking. Thus, many youth vote for parties that appeal to their morals and beliefs. In some cases, parents shape and form their children’s ways of thinking. But for some, their intellect and reasoning will be the deciding factor.

Trevor Davids, an official from the Independent Electoral Commission, joined in on the discussion to answer questions about the voting process, as well as other issues surrounding the elections. Davids said that nearly 91 000 new people between the ages of 18 -29 in the Western Cape registered to vote in the elections. Of that, about 26 000 were between the ages of 18 -19 years. “That’s a power in terms of numbers that an age group has – and it’s growing and it’s growing exponentially,” he said.

No one knows exactly what is in store for the youth of South Africa post elections day, but what is certain is that who ever governs will have to consider the new generation in any decision taken.

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Our first time: (left to right) Ilhaam Pegram (25), Lebo Tankie (23), Rico Swanepoel (26), Lisa Van Heerden (25) and Chad Quimpo (18)

A sample of what first time voters said to Bush Radio reporters on Election Day morning:

Rico Swanepoel (26)
I feel pretty good, maybe make a little difference, every vote counts I guess.

Ilhaam Pegram (25)
Well firstly I think I’ve done my part for obviously our country and all the generations to follow. It is quite important to cast your vote because at the end of the day we are going to be living in the country and we also need to bring our part in ensuring it’s what we want it to be.

Lebo Tankie (23)
I feel great now that I have voted, one thing I like is for us to be together as a nation.

Lisa Van Heerden (25)
I feel privileged excited it’s the first time I’m making my voice heard and I hope that whoever wins helps.

Chad Quimpo (18)
Relief, I just hope my vote can make a difference.

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