Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Elections 2014: Putting Young People First

This contribution was first published by A! Campaign for Action and Accountability

I am a young person living in rural KZN in South Africa and passionate about improving the lives of ordinary citizens in this beautiful part of Africa. I am not affiliated to any political party. I have had people recruit me to join the various political parties that exist in South Africa’s political makeup. Truth is, the more I listen to these people the more I realise that I do not have faith in the whole lot. Some have gone on to label me an anarchist and one who is anti-establishment because of my relentless stance in joining a political party.

While I am of the opinion that one does not need to be affiliated to effect change I find myself caught between a hard place and a rock. “How so?” you probably ask yourself; let me explain. The elections are approaching thick and fast. With almost all the political parties having made public their manifestos I find it a great travesty that I am expected to participate in these elections; and yes I am registered to vote. All the political parties have forgotten one key ingredient in their manifestos according to me. All have neglected to have young people at the centre of these manifestos. Maybe this is because young people expect things to be done for them; the entitlement syndrome that we are so quickly diagnosed with. I’ll shed more light on that diagnosis on another blog post, now back to these manifestos. Through my eyes every country that is serious about its future invests in its youth. By virtue of these political parties neglecting the youth I am of the opinion that they do not have a concrete plan for the millions of us who are a “ticking time bomb” by the admission of others.

The looming elections in South Africa are a bit of the same old happening again and again. Young people are expected to come out in their numbers to vote for a party that will deliver. The only snag is that the only delivering that will happen is the continued side-lining of young people. The National Youth Policy 2009-2014 is another has been in the greater scheme of things. It is another well-written document that has no implementation strategy. The less said about the agency setup to take the lead in this regard the better.

It is high time political parties realised that they refer to young people when it refers to the general public, after all, more than 60% of South Africa’s population are young people. The time is right to put young people first. While we await political parties to catch the drift of where we are coming from as the youth, we are mobilising ourselves. Accountability is what we want from the political parties; amongst a pro-youth approach. We want to be involved in building the country into what we imagine it to be.