University campuses will become the battleground for political parties in this year’s general election and with thousands more eligible university entrants, the push for their votes will grow stronger.
The country’s big three parties, ANC, DA and EFF – have commandeered their youth wings to hit the ground running in an attempt to secure the votes from young people.
In the Western Cape, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) are secure for the ANC with the EFF slicing a small portion of their votes.
For the DA, the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch are strongholds.
Free education, transformation, the education curriculum and university residences are the common issues among all parties.
DA Student’s Organisation (Daso) provincial chairperson Neo Mkwane, said the main targets were students who are not registered to vote.
“Our message has always been clear. We are not leaving any student behind. All students must have an opportunity to study. We are building on a campaign to build campus structures and increase our presence on all campuses. In CPUT and the UWC we don’t have a massive presence,” he said.
Mkwane said in late February, Daso would start its election campaign.
“This is where we are going to voters and listening to their concerns and of course to get the votes for the DA. We have our sights on all universities,” he said.
EFF Student Command secretary-general Rendani Nematswerani said students and young people were pivotal parts of their election campaign.
“We are currently focusing on the voter registration drive. It is no use that we are campaigning and our people are not registered to vote. We are actively assisting young people register. The Student Command made their demands to the EFF national leadership and that will be released.
But the core of our demands are free education for the youth. We want a society where our students, high school and primary learners are; educated in a conducive learning environment,” he said.
Asked about possible intimidation between parties, Nematswerani said: “We are not there to intimidate others. We are there to contest elections, we are not intimidating the ANC or DA or any other party for that matter. We are there for our people and trying to create a better life.”
ANC Youth League provincial chairperson Mohammed Sayed said their only real opponent was the EFF.
“We have seen a drop in support and many of our supporters have gone to the EFF; but only because there are internal squabbles. I am quite confident that they will be voting for the ANC again. We are; secured on the UWC and CPUT.
There is a great presence in the universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town. We are getting there and we have solid structures there,” Sayed said.
He said their biggest fight would be for free education.