SA’s youth ready to take on the political landscape

Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Published May 13, 2024



Durban — According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the latest status quo is that half of the world’s population is under age 30, and only 2.8% of members of parliament (MPs) globally represent that age band. This shows there is a lack of political representation of young people globally.

The Parliamentary Monitoring Group conducted a study which looked at 342/400 MPs, of which ministers and deputy ministers are excluded. The study shows that only 30 youths under the age of 35 are part of the National Assembly.

The provincial and national elections are at the forefront of everyone's mind, the youth said they desire to see youth thriving in the political landscape to bring change to the country.

The eThekwini region chairperson of the South African Democratic Student Movement (Sadesmo) Sibonelo Mdlolo emphasised the importance of youth engagement in politics by saying the youth are tools to hold government accountable and shape the policies and decisions that affect their lives.

Mdlolo said: “The lack of representation of young people in political landscapes is a valid concern. It is crucial to have diverse perspectives and voices in decision-making processes.”

He suggested that a multifaceted approach should be taken to attract youth to the political landscape such as; educating students on the importance of political participation, political parties, and organisations should actively engage with youth, and creating mentorship programmes where young individuals can learn from experienced politicians.

eThekwini region uMkhonto weSizwe Party’s (MKP) student movement interim spokesperson Kwanele Msomi said: “As MK Party we are saying that 50% of people in spaces and all structures should be young people because young people also need to be heard, young people are the future leaders of the country. So, we need to give them space and 50% of everything in our country, they should be represented in parliament so that they can bring fresh ideas and solutions to the country.”

He advised the youth to vote wisely to claim what is rightfully theirs on May 29. He said the youth should vote for a party that hears, speaks for, and respects them.

According to the IEC electoral commission voters roll, the age range of 18 to 39 accounts for 11.8 million voters thus marking 42% of youth voters.

The eThekwini region Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) student movement convener Sibusiso Ngubane, 23, said, “The youth of this country see politics as something that can't work for them in recent years, which is why there has been a great collapse of the state resources because people who are supposed to hold the government accountable are the youth.”

The EFF convener believes one of the solutions to get the youth involved in politics is to allow student politics on campuses to be vibrant as activism is dying in higher institutions.

He said: “Secondly is to remove old people in positions of responsibility, particularly in parliament because the reason why youth see politics unnecessary is that in parliament they are represented by old people who have no interest in this country.”

He added, “The last one is to introduce youth engagement in the community because the youth don’t want anyone who will teach them the meaning of politics.”

A registered-to-vote youth Nkanyiso Mchunu, 22, said the youth were not well represented in politics as there were almost no youth in political positions, and even political parties consist of old men and women.

Mchunu said: “Even the stats show that the average age of South African politicians is 61, including the president and deputy president. Interestingly enough, the minister for youth is a 75-year-old woman, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. How ironic is that? So, I do not think the youth is well represented in our politics, even though we have Itumeleng Ntsube, who is 25 years old and the youngest member of parliament in SA history.”

WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.

Daily News