2024 Elections: 5 Reasons Why Students Should Vote

by Staff Reporter

With the 2024 General Elections coming up on 29 May, your participation as a student is more crucial than ever. Considering that 31.2% of the population is under the age of 35, students hold substantial electoral power. Here are five compelling reasons why you should make your voice heard in the upcoming elections:

Table of Contents


1. Shape the Future of Education

Students have made a huge impact in the education space, and the country, over the last couple of years. Remember the #FeesMustFall movement? It highlighted the financial struggles many students face and led to significant government responses, including the announcement of free higher education for working-class students in 2017. 

This event had a positive knock-on effect on the way the government viewed educational funding. For example, thus far in 2024, over R143 billion was allocated for higher education bursaries by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

Additionally, another R3.8 billion will be funded to those falling within the “missing middle” category this year. All of this is a result of movements like #FeesMustFall, which led to the NSFAS budget being increased from R4.44 billion to R9 billion. This proves that, as a student, your voice matters.

Thus, by participating in the elections, you can strive for change by supporting candidates and parties that are committed to prioritising education funding, addressing student debt and improving the quality of educational institutions.

Remember, your voting power is strong and can curate a brighter future for South Africa.

south african student ready to vote in the elections

2. Address Youth Unemployment in South Africa

Youth unemployment is a pressing issue in South Africa, with many graduates struggling to find meaningful employment. According to Stats SA, the youth unemployment rate is currently standing at a staggering 45.5%. This high rate is due to various factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Structural unemployment: There are long-lasting issues that make it hard for people to find work after graduation. It goes back to unequal and unjust hiring, stemming from the apartheid era. 
  • Youth Unemployment: Young people have a tough time finding work, with nearly 65% of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 being unemployed towards the end of 2023. This is a big problem because they often don’t have much experience and struggle to find job opportunities.
  • Economic downturns: When the economy isn’t doing well, there are fewer jobs available. South Africa’s economy hasn’t been growing fast enough in recent years, partly because of problems like political issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Lack of skills: Unskilled individuals and those without 12 years of schooling make up more than 40% of the South African labour force, making it harder to find employment in an already difficult economy.
  • Labour market informality: Many people work in jobs that aren’t official, which means they don’t get the same protections and benefits as other workers. In late 2023, informal employment peaked at 7.8 million, meaning there’s a good share of South Africans employed by organisations that don’t pay well and don’t come with things like health insurance.

The above points highlight the need for economic growth and social impact. By voting, you can push for economic policies and job creation strategies that focus on the youth. 

students fighting for equality prior to the elections

3. Promote Social Justice and Equality

As a student, you are often at the forefront of social movements, advocating for equality, justice and human rights. The #RhodesMustFall movement, which began at the University of Cape Town, is a prime example of students pushing for the decolonisation of education and the removal of symbols of oppression. 

Voting in the elections gives you the chance to support leaders who align with your values and are committed to addressing issues such as racial inequality, gender-based violence and economic disparities. 

By voting, you can help to build a more inclusive and fair society. According to the latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, South African women earn between 23% and 35% less than men for doing the exact same job. This underscores the need for your continued political activism and voting for change.

student addressing climate change before the elections

4. Influence Climate Change Policies

South Africa, being a country rich in natural resources, faces significant environmental challenges, including reliance on coal for energy and water scarcity. 

You have the opportunity to vote for a political party that prioritises environmental sustainability and is committed to implementing policies that reduce carbon emissions, protect natural resources and promote renewable energy. 

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2025, a goal that requires robust political support and your voter backing.


5. Strengthen Democratic Processes

Your role as a South African citizen goes beyond simply casting your ballot in the 2024 elections. It is your civic duty to actively participate in the democratic process, ensuring that your voice is heard and your values are reflected in the decisions made by your elected officials. After all, democracy only works when the people remain engaged and committed to its principles.

Voting is a fundamental aspect of a healthy democracy. When you vote, you contribute to the legitimacy and accountability of the electoral system. High voter turnout among the youth can lead to greater representation and attention to your needs and perspectives. 

Moreover, engaging in the electoral process educates you about your civic duties and encourages you to stay politically active, fostering a culture of informed and engaged citizens. 

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the current representation of youth among registered voters is strikingly low, underscoring the urgency for increased engagement in 2024.

Merely 2.3% of registered voters fall within the age bracket of 18 to 19, while a scant 15.9% belong to the 20 to 29 age group. Needless to say, it’s clear that students simply aren’t voting, an issue that is highlighted by the fact that the youth make up one-third of the country’s population

With such a large share of South Africans falling within the 18 to 34 age bracket, it’s easy to see how the involvement of the youth in South Africa’s democratic elections could ignite real change in the country.

student voting in the 2024 south african elections

How to Make an Informed Voting Decision

As the South African General Elections approach, students need to be well-prepared to make informed voting decisions. Voting is a significant civic duty, and your vote can shape the future of the country. 

With that said, when it comes to making your voting decision, it can be difficult to decide who to cast your ballot for. Don’t worry though, we’re here to help you navigate the process and vote wisely.

Understand the Basics of the Election

Know that the 2024 election is a General Election, which is where South Africans will elect a new National Assembly and the provincial legislature in each of our nine provinces. What you’ll essentially be doing is casting your vote for a political party to give them more seats in government, which ultimately gives them more power when it comes to making decisions about the future of our country.

You can view a list of all the political parties up for election below.

Gather Information About the Political Parties in South Africa

Visit your political party’s official website and social media pages to learn about their policies, background and vision for the country. Read news articles from reputable sources to get a broader perspective on each candidate’s track record and public statements.

By doing this, you’ll get a better idea of whether or not the party’s values and plans for the country’s future align with your own.


Identify the Key Issues that Matter Most

Consider areas such as education, economy, healthcare and the environment. Ask yourself what the political party’s plans are for improving education in South Africa, how they propose to boost economic growth and reduce unemployment, what their strategies are for improving the healthcare system and how they will address environmental challenges and climate change. 

Find out where each political party stands on these issues and how their policies align with your values and priorities.

Ensuring you’re getting accurate information is essential. Stick to well-known and respected news organisations for unbiased reporting and use fact-checking sites to verify the accuracy of claims made by the candidates. This will help you avoid misinformation and make a more informed decision.

Identify the Key Issues that Matter Most

Watching political debates can show you how various parties perform under pressure and how they articulate their plans. Reading or watching interviews can give you a sense of each candidate’s personality, leadership style and ability to address tough questions.

Keep Your Decision a Secret

Once you have made a decision, try your best not to share it with just anyone. Everyone has their own personal reasons for who they would like to vote for in the upcoming elections, and they may try to influence your decision when it comes to which party to vote for. To avoid any potential conflict or influence, rather keep your decision a secret.

Ensure You Are Ready to Vote

Find out where your voting station is located and the hours of operation. Plan your day to make sure you have enough time to vote without rushing.

By following these steps, you can gather the information needed to make a thoughtful and informed choice in the 2024 General Elections. Your vote is your voice, and being well-informed ensures that your voice contributes to the future you envision for South Africa.

student registering to vote in the 2024 south african elections

Stay Up to Date with FundiConnect

Now that you understand the importance of voting, it’s crucial to have the right tools to make smart decisions about your education and future career. With FundiConnect, you’ve got everything you need in one place to help you through your student journey. 

Whether you’re figuring out which university or college to attend, searching for a place to stay, or needing advice on careers and study tips, FundiConnect has your back. 

Plus, you can find ways to fund your education, stay healthy and get extra support when you need it. FundiConnect is your go-to hub for all things student life, helping you make the most of your academic career.

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