Relebogile Manana
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Amidst prevailing political disinterest among South Africa’s youth regarding matters of politics, one political party is adopting a strategy that is capturing attention. The EFF are seemingly directing their efforts towards the country’s young population in anticipation of the 2024 political elections. Against a backdrop of disinterest among this generation, the EFF’s approach is reshaping the dynamics of political engagement and raising questions abouts its potential implications for the nation’s political future.

Today’s youth, especially those that belong to Gen Z, often exhibit a sense of apathy toward politics. Whether it is the lack of knowledge or just generally the historic nature of politics in South Africa, many young people choose not to engage in political matters. In June, political analyst Tessa Dooms stated to News24 that statistically there are 14 million unregistered young people in this country. During the 2019 elections only about 15% of voters were aged between 18 and 29, as can be seen on the IEC website. However, amid political disengagement, the EFF has taken a distinctive approach by targeting the youth as a key demographic for their political campaign.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, known for their radical and militant stance on economic emancipation, have been actively prioritising engagement with young voters. The party’s commitment to this cause is prominently displayed on social media, often accompanied by the hashtag #2024isour1994, which has become a recurring theme in their social media posts.

Despite the controversies and political dramas that surround the EFF at universities, the focus on young people by consolidating young elections structures and developing programs of action in preparation for national elections has yielded results. These results can be seen in their success in Student Representative Council elections at various universities. Obakeng Ramabodu, the chairperson of the EFF in Tshwane, stated, “Young people are rising; out of 22 institutions, EFF is on [the SRC of] 15 as we speak.” This statement was made in response to preliminary results released at UP and other institutions on 26 September, during the EFF’s picket to the University of Pretoria against racism.

Based on preliminary results at these institutions, the EFF Student Command received the most votes at institutions such as the University of Limpopo, University of the Western Cape, Northwest University and Tshwane University of Technology. Regardless of the party’s radical stance and ongoing theatrics, it is evident that many students and young individuals are attracted to the EFF’s approach, as their support base continues to grow.

Given their recent strategies and apparent success, it remains an open question whether the EFF’s triumphs at these educational institutions will translate into victory in the upcoming national elections.