root - May 28, 2024

Dunoon youth don’t believe their vote will bring change

Peter Luhanga 

For some young residents living in squalid, fire-prone informal settlements, there is little motivation to participate in Wednesday’s historic elections. Young people cite a lack of job opportunities, youth programmes, and poor living conditions as reasons for their disillusionment with the voting process.

Not even social media advertising posted by influencers paid by political parties is luring them to change their minds and vote. 

Volunteer primary school teacher Thembekayo Maytalarha, a 20-year-old  man who lives in Dunoon’s Doornbach informal settlement said that since matriculating in 2021, he has been unemployed and took up the volunteer teaching programme because if he stayed at home he’d end up becoming a thief. 

“I’ll not vote. My mother has been living in a shack for more than two decades. There are a lot of shack fires,” said Maytalarha.

“No political party comes to visit us when we have shack fires but now they’re coming because it is elections,” said the father of two young children. 

He says loadshedding has been suspended for the duration of the election campaign and he predicts it will return if the ANC remains undefeated. 

He  says  his peers do not vote, but if the EFF were in power, they would have voted for them. However, he says he believes voting for the EFF now would be a waste of time since they will not win, and therefore his vote would be wasted.

“Politics is not working. I am very upset. Everything makes me upset. The last time they convinced my mother to vote by saying they will build her a house, but to date she still lives in a shack.

“Influencers won’t influence us to vote. Give me an ANC t-shirt, I’ll wear it as pyjamas.”

Masiphiwe Mfefe, 24, lives in an RDP house in Dunoon and is also a volunteer teacher at a primary school. She says she did not register to vote because she is not interested.

 “We don’t see any progress with voting. Even if we vote or don’t vote, it’s going to be the ANC. There has been no change,” said Mfefe. 

While she is not struggling at home, she needs opportunities.

 Additionally, she says the sewer blockages in her area are so bad that “we walk in faeces”.

But Lebo Maki, 21, said she will vote. Maki is a volunteer teacher at the same school and lives in a rented one-room backyard shack in Dunoon, which she shares with three family members. Maki said her vote will go to the EFF. 

She said she has noticed a lot of misinformation on social media platforms, presented by political parties through paid influencers, promising to build houses and provide jobs.

But she doesn’t expect her vote will make any difference: “I can vote or not vote  I’ll remain unemployed.”

Intle Mbanga, 19, from Dunoon said this will be his first time to vote.

“It is my first time to vote. It makes me even more interested because it gives me a voice in the nation, said Mbanga

“One (vote) makes a difference. Without one it is zero.”

He said people living in the township don’t have a voice, as politicians in power were more focused on people who need services, but gave attention to people living in affluent suburbs. 

“For example, you see roads in affluent Table View suburbs are already clean, but you see people cleaning the roads yet there is no dirt… but here [in Dunoon] the roads are dirty and there is no one cleaning.”

He said he will be casting his vote for the EFF as they focus on the youth and building the future, while the ANC has very old people within its ranks who only think about their own needs.

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