With the message: your vote is your voice anchored on a video-led digital campaign by Brand South Africa which called on citizens to exercise- their Constitutional Right and vote in this year’s elections. “It is the responsibility of all registered citizens to make their X count to improve the quality of life for all” said, Brand South Africa’s Acting Chief Marketing Officer, Ms Sithembile Ntombela
The general elections held in South Africa on 8 May 2019 saw a total number of 17 671 616 voters heeding the call, with many of them being first time voters. One of which is Play Your Part Ambassador Ntsako Mhlanga.
Mhlanga is an education activist, child rights advocate and station manager for CAPS Radio, the station named after the school curriculum – plays the role of supporting learners and teachers in the education system.
Mhlanga shares her experience as she exercised her Constitutional Right;
Brand South Africa[BSA]: What does 25 years of democracy mean to you?
Ntsako Mhlanga [NM]: 25 years is a quarter of a century. South Africa has been through 25 years of finding its feet post the apartheid era. It is quite a remarkable time for young people because we have vast opportunities. We are finally understanding the power of our voice and the potential that the South African child has.
[BSA]: Why did you decide to go and vote?
[NM]: I decided to go vote because I wanted to be an active citizen. As young people, we sometimes feel that we are not being heard. Youth protests sometimes result in burnt down buildings and vandalized property. Voting is the most peaceful and powerful way to express your views. A vote for me was the biggest noise I could mark about the changes I want in South Africa.
[BSA]: Can you summarize your experience between;
- Making your X
[NM]: When I received my ballot papers, I was extremely overwhelmed. There were over 40 political parties to choose from. I knew what I wanted but it was scary seeing all of them there. When I was marking my X, I was slightly paranoid. I did not want to choose the wrong one accidently. I drew my finger from the picture to the empty box to make sure I was selecting the right party. I was confident in my choice.
- Putting the ballots in the boxes
[NM]: Putting my ballots in the boxes gave me so much joy because I felt a part of something so much bigger than I am. I felt that I made a great contribution to society. It was one of those ‘this is it’ moments. I could not turn back and I was comfortable with that.
- Looking at your inked thumb the day after
[NM]: The next day I felt like laminating my thumb. As insane as that sounds, I was proud of my decision to vote and who I voted for. I will confess that the lady at IEC did properly mark my thumb and I asked her to make sure my mark was visible. I had to share this because this is the epitome of playing your part in society.
[BSA]: What Why’s do you hope your X will solve?
[NM]: The biggest ‘why’ that I would like to solve is education. Why must a young person prove their poverty when applying to university? Why must a young person be barred from furthering their education because of finances? Why do school children not have proper infrastructure for schooling? These are questions that affect the population. We have 12 million learners in the education system and a 19,1 million youth population in South Africa. My X will solve these whys as youth are the future of the country.
When asked how do does she foresee the future of South Africa after these elections, Mhlanga said “The future is looking quite united. We will see parties forcibly uniting because they cannot stand on their own. In Gauteng we have ANC governing, the DA majoring cities (Johannesburg and Tshwane) and EFF leading student commands in universities. We will see an interesting distribution of power amongst the top three”.
As part of her work to encourage young people to be well informed and exercise their constitutional rights, Mhlanga urges young people to get involved in their communities, bettering the environment around them for a promising future. “One cannot commit to a better tomorrow and not start today”, she adds.
Follow the conversation on @PlayYourPartSA #GetInvolved #FreedomToMe
Notes to the Editor
Play Your Part is a nationwide programme created to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship in South Africa. It aims to lift the spirit of our nation by inspiring all South Africans to contribute to positive change, become involved and start doing. A nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live is good for everyone.
Play Your Part is aimed at all South Africans – from corporates and individuals, NGOs and government, churches and schools, from the young to the not-so-young. It aims to encourage South Africans to use some of their time, money, skills or goods to contribute to a better future for all.
About Play Your Part Ambassador Ntsako Mhlanga
Station Manager for CAPS Radio, an online radio station about education. A platform to advocate for education and children’s rights and women’s rights activist. Collaboration with the Department of Education, South African Human Rights Commission, Gauteng Youth Expo, Wits School of Journalism and the Gauteng Department of Education different projects. “I advocate for quality education and academic excellence”.