Youth must be engaged

04 April 2019 | Opinion

The youth vote will be among the key deciding factors in the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly Elections, there is no doubt about that.

More and more young people are becoming eligible voters and this is a key group likely to have a significant influence on the outcome of the elections. For years the youth, who constitute over 60% of the national vote, have persistently complained about being left out, especially when it involves decision-making roles. Most of these eligible voters are at the moment without jobs and are languishing in abject poverty.

Despite a booming youth generation, our political environment is still dominated by the old guard, all of whom are long in the tooth. Young people are disengaged from various democratic processes, including elections.

Apart from McHenry Venaani of the Popular Democratic Movement, all the other presidential candidates are likely to be over the age of 50 when general elections are held in November. There are also few young candidates being fielded by political parties to contest seats in the National Assembly.

The status quo really begs the question whether the youth are merely voting cows or credible political game-changers? It is evidently clear that critical stakeholders like the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and the various political parties are not doing enough to promote youth participation in electoral processes through creative initiatives for youth inclusion and engagement.

There is surely an assortment of challenges that the nation is grappling with, including bread and butter issues that are close to the hearts of young people. But where are the constructive engagements with young people in this country? There must be concerted efforts aimed at listening to the growing concerns and plight of the youth who represent the only chance of a future for Namibia. Without the participation of the youth in the current political dispensation, this future is at threat.

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