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IEC election campaign targets youth


Despite representing over 50 percent of the population, South Africans aged under 30 have the lowest levels of voter registration

A citizens right to vote in South Africas elections is enshrined in the Constitution, so whether or not a voter has a fixed address is immaterial. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

THE ELECTORAL Commission yesterday launched the 2019 National and Provincial Elections with an innovative communication and education campaign aimed at encouraging South Africa’s youth to register and vote.

The campaign was unveiled at an event at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg, and was attended by leaders of political parties, government officials, representatives of civil society, members of the diplomatic corps, the media and other stakeholders.

The campaign, which launched across television, radio, digital and outdoor channels throughout the country yesterday, is intended to grab the attention of young and first-time voters.

Despite representing over 50 percent of the population, South Africans aged under 30 have the lowest levels of voter registration.

“The young people of South Africa comprise an increasingly powerful and crucial segment of our economy, our culture, our democracy and our country. But until they register and vote they are unable exercise their right to participate in choosing the future of our country,” Electoral Commission chairperson, Glen Mashinini, said.

The campaign features young South Africans from all walks of life expressing their reasons why it is important to vote in the upcoming elections under a newly-created word: Xse.

“We zoned in on a phrase that is uniquely South African. It’s cool and can be used easily by anyone across the culture lines. It’s a call to action phrase, one that prompts you to take notice and take action,” explained Chief Electoral Officer, Sy Mamabolo.

“Xse is a multi-culturally understood colloquial South African term that can be used in many situations, especially when one wants to be heard. Elections allow for an individual’s voice to be heard hence we made it for the individual to own. Moreover, it’s a clever play on the ‘X’ that voters put on the ballot paper and which has featured in previous election campaigns.

“We hope Xse becomes part of the lexicon of South African youth during these elections.”

As part of the launch, the Electoral Commission Contact Centre has also been re-activated and is operational weekdays from 8am to 5pm. It provides assistance to callers in all official languages on 0800 11 8000 and is also available to respond to queries submitted via email and the IEC’s Twitter account and Facebook page.

The focus of the campaign is to promote registration during the upcoming final voter registration weekend being held on January 26 and 27, 2019 when the country’s 22 927 voting stations will open from 8am to 5pm to allow new voters to register and existing voters to update and check their registration details.

A key aspect of the campaign will also be to encourage already registered voters to also use the opportunity of the registration weekend or the online facility to check and update their address details.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is yet to announce the exact date of the elections.