Academic Field

Political Science, Economics, Justice, and Sociology

Faculty Mentor Name

Kodjo Adabra

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

This paper considers the May 2014 South African National Elections, with particular consideration of the role of youth and technology in the election outcomes. The typically dominant African National Congress (ANC) party succeeded yet again, as Jacob Zuma was re-elected as president, and the ANC maintained a majority of seats in parliament. This party was home to Nelson Mandela, and each president since his term ended in 1999. However, its usual overwhelming majority decreased compared to previous years, reflecting struggles under Jacob Zuma’s presidency to keep political momentum afloat. Jon Herskovitz’s recent analysis of ANC declining support from ‘born free’ Black South Africans was better graspable in the words of Fulufhelo Davhana, a black student from the University of Johannesburg, whom he cited as follows: “Our current leaders don't understand about the 'born free' generation because they are still stuck in the past.” Overall, the young generation of South Africans seems to feel that voting between the ANC and DA (Democratic Alliance), the top two political contenders on the national stage, forces them to vote along racial lines, but to vote for a third party candidate or to not vote at all is to throw away one’s vote. As such, they express their frustration and “talk back” to political power via technological platforms. Through analysis of Twitter, Facebook, online newspapers/blogs, and first-hand communication with students at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, this paper critically examines their disenfranchisement; could the sentiment of South African born-frees, as evidenced by internet-based trends, put the ANC party on its last legs?

Keywords

South Africa, elections, technology, youth

Start Date

10-4-2015 9:30 AM

End Date

10-4-2015 11:00 AM

Location

Hartwell Hall 52

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Apr 10th, 9:30 AM Apr 10th, 11:00 AM

Rethinking the Internet and the May 2014 Election Outcomes for Young South Africans

Hartwell Hall 52

This paper considers the May 2014 South African National Elections, with particular consideration of the role of youth and technology in the election outcomes. The typically dominant African National Congress (ANC) party succeeded yet again, as Jacob Zuma was re-elected as president, and the ANC maintained a majority of seats in parliament. This party was home to Nelson Mandela, and each president since his term ended in 1999. However, its usual overwhelming majority decreased compared to previous years, reflecting struggles under Jacob Zuma’s presidency to keep political momentum afloat. Jon Herskovitz’s recent analysis of ANC declining support from ‘born free’ Black South Africans was better graspable in the words of Fulufhelo Davhana, a black student from the University of Johannesburg, whom he cited as follows: “Our current leaders don't understand about the 'born free' generation because they are still stuck in the past.” Overall, the young generation of South Africans seems to feel that voting between the ANC and DA (Democratic Alliance), the top two political contenders on the national stage, forces them to vote along racial lines, but to vote for a third party candidate or to not vote at all is to throw away one’s vote. As such, they express their frustration and “talk back” to political power via technological platforms. Through analysis of Twitter, Facebook, online newspapers/blogs, and first-hand communication with students at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, this paper critically examines their disenfranchisement; could the sentiment of South African born-frees, as evidenced by internet-based trends, put the ANC party on its last legs?