Youth Post Elections Round Table: Are South African Youth Fed Up with Formal Politics?

On Saturday, August 3, 2019 the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Germany’s former Federal Minister of Justice Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin hosted a Youth Post Elections Round Table.

Photo by FES South Africa

FES-South Africa hosted a Youth Post Elections Round Table on:"Are South African Youth Fed Up with Formal Politics?" at WITS Club, University of the Witwatersrand, with special guest Germany’s former Federal Minister of Justice Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin. Participants were from the Fort Hare Autumn cohorts, UNASA University of Pretoria, FES-UP Winter School and Diski Nine9.

The rate of youth participation in South African formal politics is decreasing at a rapid rate. Despite some observers having breathlessly anticipated that the “born-frees,” those born in post-apartheid South Africa, would somehow improve political life in the country. However, this is far from the current reality as a high percentage of “born-frees” do not vote or participate in conventional politics.

The South African youth have developed a distrust in formal politics, and as a result engage politically outside of the political arena. Social media has been used as a platform to express political issues which occur in the country, but the same political assertiveness and activity is rarely seen when it comes to voting. As Voting is believed to make no difference. Despite the inconsistency of the political behaviour among the youth, there has developed a tendency to be more engaged at the local level rather than national level, especially over issues that directly affect them, such as school and university fees. An example being the #feesmustfall movement.

South Africa does have the ability to rejuvenate its formal politics, but the political will among its youth appear deep-seated and unlikely to change in the near future. In this round table we will discuss the reasons for the decrease in youth participation in formal politics, as well look at possible solutions.

The panel discussion was chaired by Ms Londiwe Mntambo, Programme Manager, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. 

Panelist where Mr Gcina Mtengwane, 2014 FHAS Cohort, Social Development and Social Policy Student, Wits School of Human and Community Development; Master of Social Science in Rural Development Graduate; University of Fort Hare.

Mr Madoda Mbulelo Ludidi, 2018 FHAS Cohort; Philosophy & History Student Department, University of Fort Hare.

Ms Yolokazi Mfuto, 2018 FHAS Cohort, Student, University of Fort Hare

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