Mbeki urges youth to vote in 2019 election

Former President Thabo Mbeki.
Former President Thabo Mbeki.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Times

Former President Thabo Mbeki has urged youth of South Africa to register to vote in the upcoming elections, reminding them that this constitutional right came at a price.

In a video message shared by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation on Twitter on Wednesday, the former head of state reminded South Africans of the country's very first time democratic elections in 1994.

“[About] 25 years ago, millions of us waited for hours in long queues to cast our votes in South Africa’s very first democratic elections. Many people paid with their lives to bring about this remarkable achievement,” Mbeki said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced, in his state of the nation address last week, that the national elections would be held on May 8.

A number of political parties have already launched their manifestos and are on  campaign trails to get votes.

Mbeki said the right to vote should not be taken lightly.

“Accordingly, we dare not take for granted our right to vote. In our country, 17 million of those eligible to vote are young people. However, only 8 million of these have registered to vote,” he said.

“All of us must vote to bring about the change we seek as well as make an important statement about the South Africa we want. We therefore urge all our young people to use the remaining time to register at their local IEC office. Please note that the voters’ roll will only close after the election date has been gazetted.”

According to the IEC, over 700 000 new voters registered during the final registration weekend of 26 and 27 January. This brought the total number of registered voters on to over 26.7-million.

Most encouragingly, of the 703 794 new registrations, more than 81% (574 899) were under the age of 30, which showed that more young people were heeding the call to register.

Combined with new registrations during the March 2018 registration weekend, the voters’ roll has seen over 1.1 million new voters added ahead of the upcoming elections.

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