This year marks South Africa’s sixth general election since 1994. On 8 May 2019, South Africans will go to the polls to exercise their fundamental democratic right to vote.

With our political landscape painting an uneasy picture for South Africa’s future, I asked a few friends if they have registered to vote and why they think it’s important for anyone of voting age to participate.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are not those of CN&CO or the companies in which each individual is employed.

Amlindile Mapitiza, Wits

I will not be voting this year, simply because, I don’t think politics bring solutions to any real problems. I feel like in the last 25 years, in each and every term and every president that has come have not delivered on their promises. So it’s hard to put faith in something like that.

But people can definitely go and vote if they want to. It is not to be overlooked that years before people could not vote. This is a significant event in the South African history and Africa as a whole (even in the world). But when people are using that for their personal gains, and when people are corrupt, then it defeats the whole purpose of having the right to vote.

Candice Sehoma, Doctors Without Borders

Voting is a responsibility bestowed upon us by those who battled the field to ensure that we can exercise our democratic right to vote, this is in honour of them but also an opportunity to call for accountability, action and change. This is the second time I’ll be voting this year, these elections are most important to me particularly because young people make up more than half of those eligible to vote, this is a critical time because we as young people will weigh in heavily on the path we ought to take as a country and an opportunity to redefine the status-quo.

Carly Barnes, EasyEquities

I will absolutely be voting on 8 May. It’s important to me that I honour the power of my voice as a South African. Voting means investing in the future of our country, and taking an interest in how it is shaped and by who. If we don’t get involved and empower ourselves with knowledge and interest, how can we possibly influence that future?

Weirdly, I also love being a participant and an observer at the actual voting stations. It’s a bit like home affairs in that it brings together such a melting pot of different people, who all have a common purpose. I love the diversity of our country, and its whacky interesting characters of all sorts. Voting becomes a kind of storytelling experience in itself, and an equaliser.

Joshua Nuttall, CN&CO

I will be voting – let’s help SA grow together.

We all have a choice, an opportunity and a chance to make the future better. Sure, this may sound very philosophical, but over the last year I have learnt that individually we can all contribute. I used to think that making a small change, like recycling your plastic, or standing up against something that you didn’t believe in wouldn’t really make a difference as individually our voice/action is a ‘drop tiny in the ocean’. My views have since changed, a drop in the ocean is better than no drop at all right? This is one of the many reasons that I  will be voting this year, we all have a role to play (no matter how small) in helping to make South Africa a better place. Let’s use the opportunities that we have to grow, to communicate and to work together.

Nape Phaleng, COVER Publications:

Pre-democracy, the majority of South Africans were denied the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to cast their vote. I am voting firstly because as part of the majority that was previously disadvantaged, I can finally vote. Secondly I’m voting to have a voice for my future interests as a young South African.

If you are of voting age this is your opportunity to be a part of shaping the future of our country and possibly ensuring some form of change where need be, to secure a better and desirable country to live in. Such is the power of a voter.

Simone Claire Britz, Investec:

I definitely will be voting in the upcoming elections.

Without getting into the politics of it all, I will say I strongly believe that given the state of our country if you are able and willing to vote you should. No matter who your preferred political party is, every vote counts.

Since I have been eligible to vote my mother (being a non citizen, coming from Zimbabwe) has always encouraged me to vote regardless if the party you are voting for is unlikely to win in the elections.

In that regard I have always made the effort to vote with a sense of optimism that my vote is the vote needed to possibly make the difference I’d like to see in the country.

Standwa Nongauza, Easy Equities:

Unfortunately I will not be voting this year. I delayed to change my registration location (from Grahamstown to somewhere in Jozi). Only to realise that I could do it online after registration closed.

I think that voting is one of the more important forms of active participation in nation-building, but the act of voting is not something that drastically changes the trajectory of a country. I believe voting is a complementary activity that builds and grows the nation (like protest, dialogue and discourse, and simply paying your taxes).

Young people have an immense opportunity to influence South Africa’s political landscape. Although many people are opinionated and have different beliefs and choices, our generation is probably the best informed and best equipped to vote in history. Voting is not just about supporting the candidates, parties or issues specific to an election, it’s about supporting our democracy. The right to vote was an incredibly hard won battle and this should speak volumes – that no matter the outcome, a luta continua. We need not give up on the future of our country.