That’s why matrics vote this year; ‘It’s our right and duty’

Henry

Even though they only represent a few thousand on the voters’ list, young people between the ages of 18 and 19 are eager this year to draw their crosses for the first time in a national election.

The election on 29 May this year takes place in the middle of the June exams, but matriculants across the country told RNews that it was important for them to vote this year and have such a stake in their own future.

N-Cee Fryer, a matriculant at Eduplex High School in Pretoria, believes his vote can make a difference and says everyone who can, should go and cross.

“I started by doing research, but I have also seen for myself what a difference the relevant political party makes in my area when they are in control,” he says about his decision-making process regarding the election.

According to N-Cee, crumbling infrastructure should receive more attention. He also believes that young people must realize the power that their participation in elections can have.

“People think it doesn’t matter if they vote or not, but our young people are going to have to take over at some point and take responsibility for the country.”

Isabella Brenchley, also from Eduplex High School in Pretoria, says her parents encouraged her and she wants to “know how it feels to vote”.

“I did my own research on the different parties and asked my parents and my older friends who they usually vote for and why. I also look at what the party has already done and what they still want to do.”

Isabella believes that South Africans cannot complain about their country as long as they are not “going to do something about it themselves”.

Safety is currently her biggest concern. “The environment where I live can sometimes become dangerous and can feel unsafe. I think security generally needs to improve in the country.”

When asked if the country’s future is in the hands of the youth, she answers both “yes and no”.

“Yes, young people are the future and we will have to decide what to do with the country. But everyone, old and young, now has a say and can work together to try to change the future of the country.”

Sunelle Kruger from Hoërskool Eldoraigne in Centurion agrees. She says that young people carry the future, but strong leaders are needed now to show their leadership.

“I think good leaders need to be confident, fair and transparent with their decision-making processes. That’s what I’m looking for.”

Sunelle says her parents’ influence largely determined which party’s name she will cross on Wednesday, but emphasizes that this decision is in line with her personal values.

“I also think that everyone should vote, because if only a few do, the government and the decisions that are made are not really representative of the whole country, are they?”

As an almost school dropout, the country’s unemployment is her biggest concern.

“The job opportunities must definitely be looked at. So many of my friends have chosen their fields of study for next year in such a way that they can more easily find opportunities abroad. They don’t believe that there is necessarily a career future for them here.”

Gabby van Velden, a boarding student from Paarl High School in the Western Cape, says that in the run-up to the election she looked at the impact that different political parties already have on the country.

“I decided to take part in the election because schools, my family and social media encourage it, and I think everyone should vote to give political parties fair chances.”

The Beaufort West native says that better solutions to corruption, such as the alleged misappropriation of municipal funds in her home town, must be sought.

“I think young people can have a big impact on the country, but one can only do so much. The young people will be able to help save the country, but that’s if there is still something to save.”

A matriculant at the Eunice High School for Girls in Bloemfontein in the Free State, who prefers to remain anonymous, says she believes that participating in the election is her “duty and privilege” as a citizen.

“This gives me the opportunity to make my voice heard and contribute to the future of our country. By voting, each individual contributes to the choice of leaders who represent their interests and values. If we don’t vote, we give others the chance to decide for us, which can lead to a government that does not serve our interests.”

She says that she sought opinions from family and friends, but wanted to research the parties’ positions and successes herself in order to make her own decision.

She says her hometown’s water shortage, poor roads, as well as the country’s high crime rates and limited economic opportunities, worry her.

“I do think the future lies in our hands as young people because we can offer new ideas, energy and technological skills that are essential for progress and innovation. We also have a fresh perspective on global, everyday and social challenges and are more inclined to accept and promote new changes.”