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'I need to study': We'll give the elections a miss, say matric pupils

26 October 2021 - 16:35
Matric pupils say the government made them choose between final exams and votes. They are choosing exams. File photo.
Matric pupils say the government made them choose between final exams and votes. They are choosing exams. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Political parties could lose out on the support of would-be first-time voters, with many matric pupils saying they will not cast their ballots on November 1.

Matric pupils who spoke to TimesLIVE on the eve of their final exams on Tuesday said they would not be turning up to vote next week.

“For me, with the elections, I don’t think I am going to benefit anything. Now is about me securing my future and I need to prioritise my schooling. I will vote next time and, for now, elections can wait,” said Khensani Sehlola, a matric pupil from Lesiba Secondary School in Daveyton.

She has not registered to vote.

“I am 18 and I was hoping to vote, but the problem was definitely the timing. When I found out that the elections are between the exams, I figured I can vote next time,” she said.

“I feel they did not consider the matriculants when they set the election date and, honestly, it will be a bad thing because a lot of matrics will not vote.”

Special votes had not been planned for matric pupils. 

Sehlola had already made up her mind about which party she would have voted for had she had the opportunity to head to the polls.

“The DA would have been the party that I go for, especially when I consider which party will help me secure my future,” she said.

Her classmate, Lucas Mfembeko, said his priorities were on anything but the elections.

“I won’t have the time to go and vote. I have exams coming up and I need to study. The elections will just distract me,” said Mfembeko.

He said the priorities of government were clearly not on getting the youth to vote. “It’s sad because right now, even on TV, they are talking mostly about the elections instead of education.”

Meanwhile, Makgotso Shipalane, a pupil from Forest High, Johannesburg, said she was also not concerned about the elections right now.

“Had I gotten the opportunity, I would have voted for Herman Mashaba’s party [ActionSA] because he made so many changes when he was in Joburg [as mayor],” Shipalane said.

While she regretted having to lose out on what would have been her first election, Shipalane said she needed to focus on her exams, particularly as Covid-19 had made things tough.

“Attending classes with masks on made things difficult because there were even times when you could not hear what the teachers were saying through the masks, but we tried. I studied a lot at home with the help of my mom,” she said.

Mfembeko said the same.

“Covid-19 made it impossible to study as friends at each others' homes. Even the matric camps were for a selected number of people. But I am ready,” he added.

The election date was announced by the IEC on September 8 after a dispute before the Constitutional Court in which several political parties and the IEC wanted the elections postponed to next year, citing Covid-19 disruptions. 

The court said the election must be held between October 27 and November 1.

Co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said they could not deviate from the constitutional stipulations on when the elections should be held, which was 90 days from the end of the previous five-year term of the government.