Mandy Wiener15 May 2024 | 4:03

MANDY WIENER: Shut down the noise and focus on the mission – get people to vote!

Choose the least bad political party and vote for that one, but please vote, implores Mandy Wiener.

MANDY WIENER: Shut down the noise and focus on the mission – get people to vote!


It’s been a long election campaign and it’s easy to get whipped up by the noise around the polls when there is blatant electioneering by politicians. 

Ambitious office bearers beating a trail to the home of mourning crime victims. The President stalled and then signed the NHI Bill into law a fortnight before the polls. The DA flag advert controversy. The uMkhonto weSizwe court battle around former President Jacob Zuma’s eligibility to stand. 

These are all important election issues, but what will help people decide to wake up on 29 May and spend their day queuing to cast a ballot?

As former DA senior leader and CEO of the Ground Work Collective Mbali Ntuli pointed out on X last week, we need to focus. 


This election is going to be determined by voter turnout. 

When people are at the dinner table asking, “What’s your number?”, it’s a reference to what percentage of the vote the ANC is going to get. That’s the number and that will determine who they will potentially go into coalition with. 

Since 1994, there has been a steady trend of declining voter turnout. In 1999, almost 90% of voters came out to the polls. In the last local government election, only 45% of registered voters cast their ballots – around 12 million people in total. That is astonishingly low. 

The voters’ roll is also more heavily weighted towards older citizens. 

A survey conducted by the Human Science Research Council found that voter apathy amongst the youth is due to widespread dissatisfaction with government performance, political parties, and the overall state of democracy. 

In other words, young people are not just being lazy and don’t feel like voting. They are actively saying they don’t believe the politicians and parties deserve their votes. They also don’t believe that their votes will have any consequence in effecting meaningful change. 

In an update issued on their most recent polling, IPSOS acknowledged that turnout will be the key variable in this election. 

The polling agency outlined three potential scenarios regarding turnout. The first scenario would see between 41% and 43% of registered voters heading to the polls. In a medium turnout scenario, the model indicates that the voter turnout rate may be between 57% and 59%. On the high end, Ipsos’ projections suggest that as many as 74% to 76% of registered voters could cast their ballots if voter enthusiasm reaches its peak.

“It is probably unrealistic to expect such a high voter turnout, due to the current sentiment among voters, and the modelling shows that a low voter turnout will be to the advantage of the ANC – pushing the ruling party closer to achieving 50% of the vote and implying that the ANC will need a smaller party as a coalition partner to form a future government,” says Ipsos. 


My experience is that, while many people would like to vote, they have not yet decided for whom to vote. 

Political parties are aware of this and are now appealing to their base. The DA has done this by putting the fear of God into supporters, warning of an ominous doomsday scenario if they don’t vote for them. The ANC is doing this by promising universal healthcare through the NHI which is likely to be years away in reality with imminent court challenges set to delay implementation. 

Parties recognise that the problem in the past and the problem in this election will be getting a disillusioned electorate into voting stations. 

The Independent Electoral Commission is also mindful of this. 

It sets out the ‘top reasons why you should vote’. You can read those here. In summary, this is the list:

Because you can!

You may take your right to vote and all other rights in our constitution for granted, but before 1994 most of the people in our country were not allowed to vote.

Elections have consequences

Voting is your chance to stand up for the issues you care about. This is your life: take the time to help decide what's best. Voting - rather than just venting on social media or protesting – is the best way to make your voice heard and make a positive input on the issues that concern you.

Not voting is giving up your voice

Elections are decided by the people who go out and vote. If you don't vote, someone else will decide for you. If you don't vote you get stuck with other people's choices.

It's your money

You pay taxes (even when you just buy a loaf of bread), but do you know how that money is being spent? Most people don't. Voting is your chance to choose how your taxes are spent – such as funding for social services, healthcare, and schooling.

Democracy needs you!

Democracy only works if people participate.

Voting is an opportunity for change

If you're thinking that right now you've got better things to do with your time and you'll vote next time, think again! Five years is a long time to be stuck with something that you don't want or doesn't work.

Our generation knows best

Technology and connectivity mean our generation is probably the best informed and equipped to vote in South Africa's history.

It’s time to shut down the noise and focus on getting people out to vote. Choose the political party that you consider to be the least bad and vote for that one, but please vote!