Where is the youth vehicle?

23 January 2019 | Columns

It is an election year and a major component of campaigning is likely to hone in on the so-called youth vote.

As in other countries where liberation movements now govern, Namibia’s youth are unlikely to be swayed by historical reminiscing. The stark reality is that nearly 45% of youth are unemployed in Namibia. This effectively means that every second young person you see is without the ability to earn an income in the formal sector. Even more shocking is that the majority of political parties are being run by the so-called old-guard. Dissenting voices are out of favour and are replaced with pliant youth voices that simply praise and bow in respect to ‘elders’.

Statistics released by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) in March 2014, ahead of the general elections later that year, revealed that a total of 1 158 925 voters registered to cast their ballots.

The largest percentage of registered voters (44%) fell in the age group 18 to 31 years, with the so-called born-frees making up 19.73% of registered voters, the National Youth Council said at the time.

When calculated against the total youth population at the time of around 600 000, it was worked out that 85% of eligible youth had registered to vote.

However, as with this time around, in 2014 the youth did not see a viable alternative to Swapo, as the main opposition to the ruling party is - for all to see - inside its very own house.

The formation of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement may have created the hope that it could become a vehicle for the political aspirations of disgruntled ruling party youth, but this has given way to the reality that its leaders are simply biding their time to launch an onslaught to take power in Swapo at some stage.

There is therefore a real possibility that youth voters may not see themselves mirrored in any of the contenders this year and apathy is likely to follow.

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