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One third of voters still undecided who to vote for. How can parties sway them?

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
21 May 2024 | 12:23 p.m SAST
1-minute read

Image: SA People News

As voting day edges ever closer, political parties’ campaigns are going full steam ahead to garner votes from the section of the electorate that is still undecided.

More than a third of the South African electorate has yet to decide who to vote for, a trend that political analyst Roland Hanwood says presents a good opportunity for each political party contesting this election. However, uncertainty could also result in voters abstaining from voting altogether, a possibility that is concerning, he says.

Hanwood, speaking on Radio Islam International, explains that disillusionment with politics and the quality of leadership are major factors contributing to voter indecision.

“There’s a lot of talk, but there’s not much happening. Actually, what is happening is the same old, same old negative things. And that is something that is definitely playing on the minds of people,” he noted. This sentiment has led to a pervasive narrative that politics is corrupt and untrustworthy, further alienating potential voters.

Despite the ANC’s long-standing dominance, Hanwood argues that incumbency, rather than experience, is their key advantage. However, this can be a double-edged sword.

“I don’t think the ANC has necessarily a better chance of swaying voters because of experience. What it has is incumbency. And one cannot underestimate the influence of incumbency,” Hanwood said.

Negative campaigning and scare tactics used by parties, including the ANC, might not be effective in drawing undecided voters to the polls.

Turnout is expected to be a critical factor in this election. Hanwood emphasises that various factors, including logistical issues and voter sentiments, will influence whether people decide to vote. Reflecting on the 2021 elections, he suggests that many disillusioned voters might again choose to abstain as a form of protest.

“People may decide I’m still going to protest in a way. I’m not going to vote. I believe the ANC will win the election, but I’m not going to vote. I want to punish them,” he explains.

Hanwood underscores the importance of positive and engaging campaign strategies in motivating undecided voters to participate.

“The messaging that informs people and invites people, and convinces people to go and vote will probably be the most important single issue that determines what happens in this election,” he says.

Listen to the full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat here.

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