“I’m Voting Even Though It’s Politicians That Let Us Down In Alex”

Queues at the voting station at Marlboro Gardens Combined School.


Some youth are disillusioned about voting. This is not true for Jobeka Mabaso (18) and Lukhanyo Davidson Mdletye (18) who hail from the Alexandra Township in Johannesburg. The township has been plagued by service delivery protests in the run-up to the election. While the protests raged on, Mabaso and Mdletye were unable to attend school where they are currently completing her matric. Both say it’s important for the youth to vote.

Jobeka Mabaso (18), matric learner, Alexandra Township

Jobeka Mabaso

At the end of the day, we need to have a say. By you exercising your right to vote you will be able to make demands, like for example, with Fees Must Fall. It’s going to be kind of hard to say, ‘Fees should fall’ and ‘We demand free education’ knowing very well that you did not play your part in actually bettering your country. It’s important for the youth to vote. There’s more youth than elderly people so we will be the ones continuing the legacy. We need to start continuing the legacy by voting.

The #AlexTotalShutdown was quite scary because I couldn’t come to school. People were burning things, it was hard. But at the same time I understood where they were coming from because we’ve been facing problems in Alexandra for the past years. People had enough and said, ‘Let’s stand up for it.’ But they stopped the youth from going to school and bettering their education.

I’m voting even though it’s politicians that let us down in Alex. I don’t really feel good about it because they’ve been making promises about changing the country and whatnot. But then, it’s not happening. Sometimes I feel like there isn’t going to be a real difference if I vote for a different party because they all make promises. At the end of the day they never meet their promises.

Definitely, there is hope for the future. Maybe under a different governing party there will be some light and something will happen. I’d love to say the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) are that party. Without a doubt the ANC (African National Congress) has been involved in many different scandals that have just led the country into debt. There’s the DA (Democratic Alliance) which I’m just not sure about. The EFF right now, for me, is the best option. There is a bit of hearsay about the EFF but I still think they can govern the country.  

According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), nearly 27 million people registered to vote this election. This represents about 75% of the eligible voting population. About 9.8 million eligible voters did not register to vote. Of those, about 6 million – over 60% – are below the age of 30. Both Mabaso and Mdletye are part of a small percentage of youth registered and voting in this election.

Lukhanyo Davidson Mdletye (18) matric learner, Alexandra Township

Lukhanyo Davidson Mdletye

It’s exciting to vote for the first time. It’s just that I’m tired of waiting in long queues. It’s exciting because I know who I’m going to vote for. I can tell you provincially I’m voting for the ANC, but nationally… That’s private. I don’t necessarily have hope for the parties I’m voting for. It’s just that the ANC has done something from where we come from. It’s just those slight mistakes. This is because the ANC doesn’t work with the youth.

You should check in parliament. It’s full of old people. I feel like I can vote but it won’t make a change until we see young people there. As a person that wants to study politics at university, I see myself there. But if I can’t see the youth in parliament now, I don’t think I’ll ever see them there. What I want is for the government to start working with a lot of people. A lot of young people have a master’s in political philosophy and political science but they’re not in government. They need to be in government. If they want the youth to vote then they need to start putting the youth in parliament.

The #AlexTotalShutdown made me realise that you can’t protest for dignity if you’re not dignified. What they did was not dignified. I couldn’t come to school. We could have done it in a proper way instead of burning tyres. It’s become a trend now that anytime when it’s an issue, we burn tyres and schools. Where are we going to learn if they keep burning schools? Yes, people do that because there is no hope. But they’re making it worse. If you burn schools there’s going to be more problems. Children are not going to be able to come to school. It’s a waste of time.

We should rather do direct lobbying. It will work, unlike protesting. We can say that people in South Africa don’t really know about direct lobbying because most of the country is illiterate. But it’s what we need to do. Even in the past they used to protest so people think it’s right to do that. But it isn’t right.

If there’s people like me in South Africa then there’s hope for the future.