IEC initiative to woo youth to vote in elections

THE Independent Electoral Commission in Limpopo has launched the "Youth Ambassadors for Electoral Democracy".

The initiative is aimed at instilling a desire among the youth to take part in the election process.

The event, which was held at the commission's warehouse in Polokwane yesterday, marked the commitment of the IEC to work with the youth from different spheres.

Apparently the IEC has noted the reluctance of the the youth to take part in the general elections process.

The commission believes the involvement of youth structures in steering this mobilisation action will have a significant effect that will see young voters casting their votes in large numbers.

The youth ambassadors will have a defined role that complements the implementation of the IEC's broad communications and educational strategy.

During yesterday's press conference nine youth ambassadors pledged to abide by the principles of the IEC.

One of the ambassadors, radio personality Mankoko Mokhari, who works for SABC's Thobela FM, said they were not supposed to promote party politics.

"We are also not allowed to use our ambassadorial status for personal gain," Mokhari said.

"Our primary duty is to encourage the youth to exercise their democratic right of voting and instill high moral values.

"We are now prepared to participate in any monitoring of programmes that seek to maximise the attainment of the goals of this programme," he said.

Announcing the nine ambassadors, IEC's provincial electoral officer Nkaro Mateta emphasised the need for the youth from various sectors to work together in pursuing the objectives of the initiative.

"This initiative comes at a time when the commission seeks dialogue with the youth," Mateta said.

He said the electoral commission hoped that this programme would also reinforce the momentum which the election process gained through improved participation of the youth during the 2009 national and provincial elections.

Of the 1 513 621 votes cast in Limpopo during last year's general elections young voters aged between 18 and 29 constituted 47percent of the total votes cast, translating to 711402 in the province.