Youth and elections

Many youth seem to show a disinterest in voting and The Zone went above and beyond to get the inside scoop from those with knowledge.

25 June 2019 | Education

Evany van Wyk

For those who haven’t heard, the 2019 general election is fast approaching.

Supplementary voter registration will take place from 8 to 27 July and political parties are getting their speeches ready to convince us to vote for them.

It’s an important and critical time. However, many youth seem disinterested and their attention often lasts for only a few seconds. Why is there a lack of interest when it comes to youth making their votes count?

The Zone investigated, and as it turns out, young people are not afraid to speak out about why they are sceptical of voting.

National Youth Council (NYC) executive chairperson Mandela Kapere shed some light on the subject.

According to him voting is one of our most important civic duties as citizens.

“I think voting is a matter of both heart and mind,” Kapere said.

He added that voters should understand what policies parties stand for, but people also tend to vote for parties and leaders with whom they feel a sense of connection.

The 2014 National Assembly and presidential elections saw a significant upswing in youth voters.

Kapere said there was nearly a two-fold increase in voter turnout amongst young voters.

Elections are a time when the population gets an opportunity to vote for the best people to run the country. This, however, becomes a difficult and sometimes unpleasant task as many people don’t have all the information when it comes to political parties.

This causes people to leap into making uninformed decisions, just for the sake of making them.

Some of the population do not intend to vote at all, especially the youth.

The Zone spoke to University of Namibia (Unam) SRC president Kudzai Sibanda to hear his views on the matter.

He has also never voted before.

“Like any other young person out there, I was too impatient to go and stand in long ques. This year, however, as a wiser and more mature person, I definitely intend to make my vote count,” said Sibanda.

When asked what can be done to make the youth more excited about voting, he said that youth-friendly ways of promoting the elections are key.

“Putting ads online and in newspapers will not convince the youth. We need to be engaged with on a personal level by someone in our age group,” Sibanda said.

According to him, having the right to vote should be treasured. It is a necessary rite of passage from being a child to becoming an adult. “Let’s gather enough information and educate ourselves on politics. Despite what you might think, your vote does make a difference,” was Sibanda’s message to the youth.

ECN actively engaging

The Electoral Commission in Namibia (ECN) is responsible for all things relating to voting in the country.

ECN corporate communications officer Vikitoria Hango said the ECN is busy actively engaging youth and other age groups, so they can be informed on how the voting process works.

“Long queues and standing in the sun is a sacrifice we should be able to make for at least one day. What would have happened in 1989 if our forefathers hadn’t been willing to vote for our freedom?” asked Hango.

She added that voting is not about one person and the current situation. It’s about your children and grandchildren and the circumstances they will have to live in because of the decision you choose to make today.

Hango also mentioned that some of the initiatives being undertaken by the ECN involve collaborating with youth organisations and sitting around a table to discuss the issues that concern them.

“By the end of the year we want to be able to say that we have found viable solutions to some of these problems. That is why we have voter and civic education,” Hango explained. According to her many organisations have reached out to the ECN and this just shows that people do want to get involved.

“You have to realise that if you don’t vote, then you have no right to complain in the future about the way things are done,” explained Hango.

She added that voting gives you the opportunity to create a future that aligns with your fundamental beliefs.

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