Minister calls on young people to determine own future

Friday, March 4, 2016

With the country’s population becoming increasingly young, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says today’s generation should determine its own future.

Minister Gigaba was speaking to SAnews ahead of this weekend’s voter registration campaign. The Electoral Commission of South Africa has expressed concerned over what it perceives as a voter apathy among young South Africans with significant numbers of people in this group showing less interest in elections.

But, Minister Gigaba strongly believes that young people must register to vote in order to decide on the future they want.

In the 1940s, he says, young people shaped the  resistance against the apartheid government, under the leadership of stalwarts like the late former President Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Anton Lembede.

That generation of leaders ruffled feathers and went on to lead numerous campaigns of disobedience and strikes in protest of inhumane laws that were imposed on non-white South Africans by the ruthless apartheid system.

Fast-forward to June 16, 1976, the struggle was led by young people once again. A new profile of young leaders like the late Tsietsi Mashinini, Murphy Morobe and Baby Tyawa emerged. Minister Gigaba says these young people renewed the fight against unjust laws when they led students from various schools in Soweto on a peaceful protest.

“They went down in history books for their fearless fight against the apartheid government’s laws that made Afrikaans a compulsory language of instruction in classrooms.”

The Minister says while the previous generation fought fearlessly and “grabbed the horns” of the apartheid system, the current generation of young people should decide their own future and come out in their numbers to vote.

“It is important to say to young people that shaping the future of the country must not be a responsibility of other generations of the people. The youth of South Africa at all given stages, at all stages  of our struggle, they have played their role, significantly.

“They have helped to propel the country forward. But their responsibility is to make their significant contribution through their vote to shape the country.”

Minister Gigaba notes that the South African population is getting younger and younger, and therefore young people are playing an even more significant role in terms of elections.

According to the Electoral Commission, of the 1 081 667 new voters that registered to vote in the 2011 municipal elections, those aged between 18 and 19 years old amounted to just 287 807.

Minister Gigaba says the group of 18 to 19 year olds is one that is at the present moment the least registered to vote in the local and the general elections. “That is the group whose registration figures we would like to lift up so that they can participate in shaping the country’s future.

“But what we know from the previous election, is that once young people are registered, they are the ones – more than any other registered group – that come out to vote during elections.

“They are the ones that get more excited about the election knowing the responsibility that’s in their hands.

“And so we are quite eager that they should realise the significance of their vote, the importance of the young people making their mark, not only on the democracy of their country, but most importantly on the future of South Africa.”

Government ready for local government elections

The Minister also meanwhile said preparations for local government elections are going very well.

He says that the re-demarcation of the municipalities has been completed, and added that the upcoming local government elections will see the abolition of a number of municipalities that have been deemed to be not financially viable.

The number of municipalities will be reduced from the current 278 to a more manageable and service-delivery orientated 257. 

“We are doing what we can at the IEC in designating the voting stations in assigning and recruiting personnel that are going to run those voting stations and the Department of Home Affairs for its part is focussing on the ID campaign.

“We will be opened on the voter registration weekend of the 5th and 6th of March, from 8am to 5pm to coincide with the times of the opening of the IEC that weekend.”

The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster is also assessing the country to ensure that when election dates come, there will be no security risk to the election.

“The rest of the country is getting ready for elections and we think that we are on course,” he says. Registration opens from 05am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday –