Our Durban reporter, RUMANA AKOOB has some advice for the IEC.
This weekend, South Africans get their last chance to register to vote in April’s general elections.
A mere 22 percent of born frees have registered to vote so far. Despite the recent “IXSA” campaign run by the Independent Electoral Commission, it appears the youth of this country still donâ€™t find voting cool.
As it stands, voting feels like a task. First, youâ€™ve got to find your ID in the jeans you last wore to the club the other night. Secondly, youâ€™ve got to go wait in the queue at the polling station and fill out a form with an uncle who has more hairs coming out his nose than on his head, Thirdly, and most traumatically, youâ€™ve go to give your details to the lady with a moustache who thinks flirting with you is a great way to pass the time.
Out of breath? Me too. And that was just the registration.
The IECâ€™s sole purpose is to get people to the voting station, count the votes and make sure all goes by fairly and squarely.
We are in the 21st century. Surely there could better ways to get people to register, and to vote?
The youth – those of legal-voting age – certainly do not feel a connection with the struggle unlike the previous generation whose life experience pushed them to place a higher value on their freedom.
If history lessons at school didnâ€™t work, then there has to be plan B.
Here are ways to get people to register to vote:
1. Make music about voting. Create a dance as addictive as Gangnam Style. Have those t-shirts printed with puns. Package IEC condoms with one-liners like â€œI want to protect my futureâ€.
2. How do you get a lot of people to one place at any given time? Entertainment, food and free T-shirts. And transport.
The IEC should take tips from political parties and get each of their polling stations to host jols.
For instance, one community radio station in Durban plays an endearing call for people to register by using a Minority Front lady who sounds like your aunty from across the street.
â€œWhy donâ€™t you come for lunch-ma, you can register one time, alsoâ€
3. If that doesnâ€™t work, then there is always social media. Go start a trend.
Move online, get a LAN set up for registration, hire some internet cafes.
Some people pay lebola through their mobile phones.Why canâ€™t we just register through an app?
4. Hire some volunteers, or go to neighbouring countries and steal some children – and get them out in numbers at robots (traffic lights if you are proper), at colleges, churches, anywhere they will go, and get them to hand out pamphlets and give out badges, pins, caps – sell the idea of voting to youth. Everybody wants free ****!
5. If the IEC wants to be fancy, advertise in those frames on public toilet doors. If you can find the door.
Ultimately, the IEC needs to rethink the way they have been engaging the Born Frees. Our attention span is no longer than it takes to make that X.