HCA Pre-election Dialogue
As South Africa enters election season, her citizens may struggle to identify the candidates they feel are best-suited to serve the country in the years to come. Many young people experience intense feelings of civic responsibility, though often campaign chaos can overwhelm first-time voters. In an effort to educate and stimulate pupils, HCA - History and Current Affairs Society - hosted representatives from the African National Congress, Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters in a pre-election dialogue on Tuesday 12 March.
Each speaker briefly outlined their party’s manifesto and vision in a four-minute opening statement, before the floor opened for a moderated Q&A session. The three student leaders dealt skillfully with poignant questions focussed on controversial issues such as land expropriation, social housing, economic development and corruption.
Restricted to just the hour provided by lunch break, speakers were forced to be economical with their time and most answers were limited to thirty seconds. Azola Krweqe from the EFF Student Command, Caleb Kay from the DA Students Organisation and Anathi Khaytwa representing SASCO (South African Students’ Congress - a branch of the ANC) offered meaningful and concise insights into the policies and strategies of their respective parties, demonstrating that the future of South Africa lies in capable hands.
Although many Westerfordians will not be eighteen on 8 May 2019 and so won’t be eligible to vote, the outcomes of the elections will have a profound impact on everyone in South Africa - particularly on the youth. Researchers project that by 2050 there will be approximately 945 million Africans under the age of 25. The African Union’s Agenda 2063 document emphasises the need to harness the potential “demographic dividend” offered by Africa’s tremendous and ever-increasing youth population.
Over 100 pupils were in attendance at this event. Attendees were given ballots and asked to vote for one of the three groups, based on what they had heard from the student leaders. 98 ballots were counted with the results as follows:
52% for the DA
36% for the ANC
9% for the EFF
3% spoiled ballots
This hugely successful event also highlighted the crucial role that active young citizens need to play in the years to come - embracing the spirit of democracy and engaging in collaborative spaces to create productive discourse.
-Nadia Odendaal, 12