Youth taken for a ride

12 September 2019 | Columns

The odds are heavily stacked against youth leaders within Swapo. A closer analysis of the just-concluded electoral college or pot shows that not a single youth leader under the age of 35 made it onto the 96-member National Assembly candidate list of the ruling party. It is also interesting to note that the youngest pot candidate was 30-year-old City of Windhoek councillor Ian Subasubani, who ended up at 115. Surprisingly, President Hage Geingob elected to stick to tried-and-tested cadres, when he confirmed his 10 presidential nominees. This has once more left the youth brigade licking their wounds. Political commentator Phanuel Kaapama gave a spot-on assessment of the status quo. According to Kaapama, the exclusion of youth leaders could be interpreted as young people only being good enough to vote, but not being seen as fit for leadership positions. It cannot be correct that the very same youth, who are used to fight political battles, are not capable of leading, including making it to the National Assembly where they can be groomed as lawmakers. In fact, every political movement in Namibia has an important responsibility towards young people, with the expectation that greater energy will be channelled into development, youth empowerment and other critical issues. We need more young people to spell out their vision for a better Namibia, which reflects an attitude of transformation. And this can only happen if influential movements like Swapo are ready to give the youth a chance. Interestingly, the ruling party some years ago changed its constitution to accommodate more women in the National Assembly and other party structures. Well and good. However, one would also expect young leaders - obviously with the necessary capacity and competence - to be wheelbarrowed into critical positions, instead of playing minimal roles and being taken for a ride by the party elders. Lastly, youth leaders should also collectively champion their cause and stop advertising themselves as proxies of factions and elders competing for political power.

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