Youth lack political interest to force change – Survey

With the 2024 General Election fast approaching, local political parties still have their work cut out for them to lure young people to the voting booth.

A recent Afrobarometer study suggests that many young Batswana are disconnected from political processes and aren't taking full advantage of the available avenues to make their voices and priorities heard. The study's findings, which were published on July 4, provide an on-the-ground look at the situation of the youth in Botswana. The survey indicates that young Batswana are less likely than their elders to engage in political and civic activities, including voting, contacting leaders, attending community meetings, and joining others to raise an issue. This has contributed to voter apathy in the country as the youth form the largest proportion of the population eligible to vote. “Around the world, young people are generally less likely than their elders to vote in elections. Survey findings show that this is true in Botswana, too. Excluding respondents who were too young to vote at the time, about three-quarters (74%) of respondents of all ages say they voted in the most recent national election in 2019,” noted the survey. “But only 60% of 18- to 35-year-olds say they voted, compared to 82% of middle-aged and 89% of older citizens.

The gap between youth and seniors is a stunning 29 percentage points.” The survey also states that young people in the country are less likely than the older generations to identify with a political party. It indicates that fewer than half (45%) of young respondents say they “feel close” to a party, trailing the middle-aged (61%) and senior (65%) groups. “They are also less likely to say they attended a community meeting (37% vs. 60% to 63%) or joined others to raise an issue (16%, vs. 26% to 31% of older citizens). But they match their middle-aged and older counterparts when it comes to participating in a protest march or demonstration (5%),” adds the survey findings. The findings suggest that the youths’ low engagement in political and civic processes in pursuit of change could be a result of their dissatisfaction with economic conditions, the country’s overall direction and their government’s performance. The survey says despite its impressive record of economic growth, Botswana is a country in the throes of a tremendous unemployment challenge – particularly youth unemployment.

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