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28 May 2024
Youth Voter Surge: South Africa's 2024 Elections Mark 30 Years of Democracy
In less than 24 hours, South Africa’s registered electorate will officially make their voices heard when they cast their votes in the polls. The international and local media have deemed these elections a watershed moment as South Africa marks 30 years since the dawn of democracy.
The build-up to the National and Provincial Elections has seen many news articles and academic pieces penned with a particular focus on the youth vote. The youth, classified as 15-35 years old, is the largest cohort of the electorate. According to the Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Sy Mamabolo, young people between the ages of 20 and 29, led the pack during the recent voter registration weekend, making up to 77% of new registrations.

The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) results soon followed Mamabolo’s comments. In May, Stats SA released the results of the QLFS for the first quarter of 2024. A marked increase in youth unemployment was noted, highlighting that the youth remain the most vulnerable in the labour market.
The first quarter of 2024 results show that the total number of unemployed youth increased by 236,000 to 4.9 million, while there was a decrease of 7,000 in the number of employed youth to 5.9 million. This increased the youth unemployment rate by 1.3 percentage points from 44.3% in Q4 2023 to 45.5% in Q1 2024.

As South Africa battles ongoing socio-economic challenges, especially among the youth, some University of the Western Cape students will join the more than 27 million registered voters to cast their votes. Acting Student Representative Council (SRC) President Siyabonga Sgudla has called on students to exercise their democratic right to vote.

“Voting is an important exercise that will shape the future of this country, and as students, we have had a lot to deal with over the last five years. The 27th of May, the 28th of May as (special voting days), and Wednesday the 29th of May serve as an essential opportunity for us to decide whether or not we want the status quo to remain” - said Sgudla.

Click here to watch the SRC president encourage the UWC campus community to make their vote count on election day