Durban – EFF leader Julius Malema has renewed calls to revise down the voting age to 16.
Currently, an eligible South African citizen can vote only once they have turned 18.
Malema said the legal age of consent is 16, and it did not make sense that at that age, one could take legally binding and other decisions, but not vote.
Speaking to Independent Media on Sunday at a voter registration station at Willowfontein in Pietermaritzburg, Malema said his call for such a revision had so far fallen on deaf ears.
“The voting age must be 16 years because you can’t give children power to consent at 16, and then refuse them [the right] to vote. When you say they can consent at 16 years, they are grown-ups, they can take decisions, so they can make well-informed decisions at 16. That’s our position,” he said.
Although his party had not taken the debate to Parliament, it was what the EFF was advocating.
At the voter registration stations that Malema visited in Pietermaritzburg at the weekend, many of the EFF supporters appeared to be young students from tertiary institutions.
Durban-based political analyst Xolani Dube, from the Xubera Institute for Research and Development, said the call by Malema was not an “honest” one, and even if a change was made to reduce the voting age to 16, it would not benefit the EFF.
Dube said the EFF was not heavily represented in most townships and rural areas, and their support was seen to come mainly from institutions of higher learning.
“The call by Julius (Malema) to allow people to start voting at 16 is not an honest one at all. He thinks that can earn his party [the support] of the young people, yet any legislation to allow that will not automatically rescue him.
“Local government people are about ratepayers, it is them who make decisions that are even followed by the young people he wants to vote. Still, even if they can be allowed to vote, they still cannot outvote ratepayers… So I think the call is misguided,” Dube said.