07 September 2012

THE recently concluded Swapo Youth League (SPYL) conference certainly provided more than enough drama and fireworks to keep everybody on the edge of their seats.


We unreservedly congratulate SPYL Secretary Dr. Elijah Ngurare on his re-election to another five-year term as head of the youth.
It is difficult to discern whether he won because he is wildly popular among the youth or merely because of tactical astuteness.
Victory is nevertheless victory – especially when so emphatic – and he therefore deserves all credit.
We wish him all the best in his endeavours to lead the Swapo youth for the next five years and hope that he will forge a more united body and that the SPYL will focus on addressing the pressing needs of the country’s youth.
The youth face challenges on all fronts including unemployment, lack of quality education and opportunities for acquiring skills as well as a growing alcohol and drug abuse problem.
Tackling these issues will require a leadership that can unite the youth.
It will need to steer clear from divisiveness, cliques, name-calling and systematic campaigns to alienate and isolate individuals in the SPYL who have different views from the current leadership.
In a sense, Ngurare’s acceptance speech amounted to a missed opportunity because he chose to squander it to take a swipe at the media.
He should have used this valuable platform to map out his way forward and set out his programme for addressing the plight of the youth.
He instead used the opportunity to portray himself as the victim of external forces and some unspecified hidden agenda.
Ngurare has spoken a great deal about empowering the youth, but in reality he has achieved very little in this area.
To be fair he cannot carry the entire blame for this. This country has such deep and intractable structural economic problems that they defy easy solutions.
He however, needs to show that he is earnest about finding solutions to the problems of the youth rather than spending most of his time bickering with his youth league colleagues.
We also found it rather disappointing that the SPYL did not use the opportunity of the congress for a high-level discussion about political succession in the Swapo party.
The youth needed to give this debate substance and critically look at the qualities the country wants in its next leader and how the various candidates will address the needs of the country.
This newspaper has always had a certain amount of respect for Dr. Ngurare.
He is unquestionably a well-educated and articulate youth leader, and should represent our best and brightest hope for the next generation of the country’s leaders.
He has, however, somehow managed to create this rhetoric around him suggesting that he is the victim of a conspiracy.
The truth is that he himself often makes himself guilty of being the aggressor, calls people names and has become a master at the art of damaging innuendo.
He seems to take everything extremely personally, which makes one think that he has a chip on his shoulder and suffers from an acute persecution complex.
There is the truism that says, the fact that you are paranoid does not mean that people are not out to get you.
The reality is that in politics, you will always have people against you and you will always have political opponents.
Politically mature politicians realise that this is part of the rough and tumble of politics in a democratic society.
They recognise that within certain acceptable norms, standards of fair play and civilised conduct, this constitutes a normal part of politics.
Politicians should accept that they will always remain the subject of intense public scrutiny and sometimes harsh criticism – whether justified or not.
The fact that people differ with you politically or criticise you does not mean that they harbour personal hatred against you.
The rules of the game are that you should never take things personally, and if you are not thick-skinned enough for politics, the choice is simple. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!
This newspaper initially enjoyed extremely good relations with Dr Ngurare.
But at some point, he and other members of his clique – including Cabinet ministers – decided to boycott the Windhoek Observer for reasons that remain a mystery to this day.
They refuse interviews with the newspaper and refuse to comment on crucial matters of national interest relating to either the SPYL or their ministerial portfolios.
This is childish stuff, and it is a national embarrassment for Namibia that we have such petty and infantile politicians.
Whether this clique speaks or does not speak to the Windhoek Observer will have no bearing on the fate of the newspaper.
It, however, does a great disservice to the readers of the newspaper while also constituting a flagrant abuse of power because some of these people swore an oath of office to serve all Namibians equally.
Their boycott of certain newspapers and media houses also shows that they have a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the media in society.
The role of the media is not to swear undying loyalty to any particular political party or politician.
The great calling the media has is an unswerving loyalty to the public interest and its readers, listeners or viewers regardless of what political party or politician holds power or office.
It was quite surprising that while calling for youth empowerment, he publicly lashed out at young editors of The Villager and the Windhoek Observer who have led the way in taking practical steps to empower young Namibian journalists.
It is in fact striking that Ngurare went out of his way to attack only media organisations owned or managed by black Namibians.
Young black entrepreneurs own the parent companies of both the Windhoek Observer and The Villager, in this case Paragon Investment Holdings and Omalaeti Media Group respectively.
These young people have against all odds managed to create credible and reputable media organisations to ensure that black Namibians have a presence and voice within the previously white-dominated media.
Unlike Ngurare, they are doers and not talkers and they have risked substantial amounts of their own money to achieve the empowerment of black people.
It therefore, seems hypocritical and somewhat gratuitous that Ngurare lashes out at these newspapers while constantly sucking up to and leaking information to certain white journalists.
We wholeheartedly welcome President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s statement when speaking at the youth league congress when he said “...youth leaders must not become master criticisers, because leaders who only criticise have never done any good for society”.



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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