The missing youth in the South African political landscape
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Almost three decades into the post-apartheid political landscape in South Africa, the role of the youth in the electoral process is slowly becoming a determining factor. The rise of the youth in the mid-80s made South Africa ungovernable, which subsequently led to the release of political prisoners and the beginning of a negotiated settlement in the early 90s. The youths participation in the political sphere was significantly evident in the past. However, youth participation in the electoral process has steadily declined from that of the 1994 General Election. This chapter aims to identify key reasons for the downward spiral of youth participation in the electoral system. This chapter relies on qualitative data derived from first hand data collected during the 2019 General Election in South Africa. Study participants were between 18 and 25 and had not participated in the electoral system during data collection. The exploratory nature in which the study was designed centered on bringing credence to the role that the youth can play in the electoral system, while extrapolating their perspective of the electoral system in South Africa. This chapter argues that current electoral awareness programs are ineffective and ought to be improved and tailored towards the current youth generation to encourage them to participate in the electoral process of South Africa effectively. Furthermore, an attempt is made to provide examples of improving youth engagement in the electoral process.
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