Here’s a riddle: what pulls in a capacity crowd on a cold day, trends for thirteen hours straight and brings together more than two hundred people under one roof? It’s none other than LIVE Magazine’s Voting is Power Debate!
On Tuesday 11 March 2014, LIVE Magazine launched it’s VIP (Voting is Power) campaign, which aims to get young people clued up on South African politics. The event was hosted by none other than SABC 1’s “Sunday Live” news anchor Tumelo Mothotoane and despite the damp weather, the venue was packed to capacity. The topic of the debate was “To Vote or Not to Vote?” and the panelists were:
DJ Fresh: Joined YFM in 1997 and was heading up the breakfast team by 2003. He was quickly snapped up by 5FM in 2006 where the Fresh Drive has since become a 5FM institution as well as the station’s most popular show.
Shaka Sisulu: Public speaker, entrepreneur, social-activist and writer. Shaka defines himself as just an Afrikan with a vision of the Greatness of Afrika. A lover of sun, song, dance, sea, people, ideas, child, inspiration, woman, words, Afrikan soil and love.
Khadija Patel: Journalist, she is the managing editor of a new project focused on the upcoming election southafricavotes2014.co.za. She is also a writing fellow at the University of Witwatersrand’s Institute for Social and Economic Research (Wiser).
Kagiso Lediga: Recognised today as one of the country’s pioneering black comedians in the country and given his invaluable contribution to local comedy, Kagiso Lediga has certainly earned his right to be called a South African comedy legend. He is a natural storyteller with an enigmatic comedy style that blends schoolboy charm with creative genius, sharp intelligence and wit.
The panelists were asked to tackle three basic themes of the upcoming elections. Here’s what went down:
Are you voting and what informs your vote?
Shaka Sisulu: Definitely. I want to have a say in how the country is run. Voting is about taking ownership of the country.
Dj Fresh: The cornerstone of any democracy is the ability to vote. Even if you vote for the “losing guy”, it’s a way of telling the “big guy” that you’re fed up with him. Just make sure the “big guy” hears your voice.
Kagiso Lediga: Yes. If you’re not voting, you’re not participating. I’m just so excited that so many young people have registered to vote. It shows that we’re taking this seriously.
Khadija: Well, South Africa’s political reality is complex. People like saying South African youth is apathetic. I’d argue that we are very involved. We’re the protest capital of the world, so that shows we are involved. We just have to address why young people feel like protesting is the only way to be heard.
Are you voting against issues like corruption? What issues are you voting for?
Khadija: All I can say is people should stop asking for transformation and demand it. However, I think the institution that needs the most change (is media). I think South Africa’s media is flawed and can only get better through engagement.
Dj Fresh: People should vote about issues that are important to them. The only way to do that is to be informed. An informed voter votes wisely. If you’re not informed, it’s easy to be overtaken by the politics of fear.
Kagiso: The problem with politics is that it’s all about rhetoric. Sometimes I feel like people look at political parties like soccer teams. They don’t vote for issues, they vote for favourites.
Shaka: I think a more important question to ask is whether voting is culturally embedded in people’s psyche. We need to teach the youth to the youth how to vote based on merit early on.
Will born-frees change South African politics?
Kagiso: They could. I think born-frees must think about taking power from politicians and giving it to themselves. They should take the agency (power) away from politicians and establish their own.
Khadija: Well, the world in general is changing. Nothing ever stays the same. Whether born-frees will be the carriers of this change is yet to be seen, but things will change. Everyone has the power to do something.
Shaka: Born frees will run the country eventually. The question is: how? Will they learn from this political regime’s transgressions?
Dj Fresh: It depends. The only way they’ll change things is if we let go of our entitlement issues. We’ve bred a society of dependence. We need to condition people to think it’s easier to open a spaza shop rather wait for a handout.
So, any last words as we head to the poll?
Khadija: Anyone can make a difference. Also, we shouldn’t only rely on technology and blogs as a means of political participation. Don’t understimate the power of person-to-person interaction.
Dj Fresh: You’re entitled to three things: oxygen, dignity and respect. The rest is up to you. Young people need to give up their sense of entitlement.
Shaka: The 7th of May isn’t a one night stand, it’s a relationship. Are you prepared to be politically involved and help your party sort out all it’s crap?
Kagiso: Yeah man; we have a huge choice to make. Let’s be responsible and not f*ck it up… Oh and good luck for the elections.
Follow me on Twitter: @RofhiwaManeta
Photography by: Rofhiwa Maneta
The story of #Elections2014 continues. Stick with #LiveVIPZA and we’ll give you analysis, debates, comments, polls and all you need to make it through the all-important task of VOTING during the 2014 elections. The VIP Campaign is supported by Omidyar Network.
Join our ‘VIP: Voting is Power’ campaign
Check out our latest content on our VIP mini-site livevip.co.za and YouTube channel, Like our dedicated Facebook page Facebook/LiveVIPZA, join the discussion on Twitter #livevipza or join ourTwibbon campaign.