Political analysts have stated that despite the confirmed outcome of the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections in Namibia on Wednesday, the polls will indicate the emergence of a no-nonsense younger generation of voters. The increased participation of the youth in the electoral process and political discourse reiterate this point.
Political pundits says that for the past three decades after Namibia’s Independence, the country’s approach to youth inclusion in politics has been founded on a belief in convergence. But this convergence from the point of view of many youth leaders, was supposed to lean towards the integration of approaches that are in line with the needs of the millennial electorate.
However many veteran politicians, on the other hand, are married to the conviction that with coaxing in the right measure, the co-optation of a few younger people into the traditional political arena, is guaranteed. These younger political leaders then become the ‘face’ of the youth in politics, without adjusting the status quo to suit the needs of a modern constituency.
This, according to political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah, is chiefly because the candidates that where elected or handpicked for youth leadership positions, fell short of aggressively advocating for the needs of the youth. Kamwanyah argues that the needs of the young people have changed over time.
“The country gained independence and everybody’s main concern was to preserve this hard earned independence at all cost. As such, the priorities of the young people at that time was education. Those who were in politics where hell bent on joining the ranks within their respective political formation and to grow therein,” Kamwanyah says.
The political analyst further stressed that young people are now going through a state of frustration due to their lack of employment and the rampant corruption (perceived to be draining away needed resources) that is prevailing in the country.
“They have finally realized that their future is in their own hands and now they are being proactive,” Kamwanyah stressed.
His stance was corroborated by former Swapo Party Youth League (SYPL) secretary of economic affairs Imms Nashinge, who concurred that there is a gradual paradigm shift among young people in as far as their approach to politics is concerned.
“Young people have realized that there is no time to remain on the fringes, the momentum is high and it is bound to get better,” Nashinge said.
Former Secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League and lecturer at the University of Namibia (UNAM), Dr Eliyah Ngurare did not mince his words when he stressed that those of the older generation who think they can suppress the young people are being unpatriotic to the ideals of the democracy that was founded 30 years ago.
“This demographic of society is the hardest hit by poverty, stagnation and many other social ills. It is these combination of issues that have led to their anger and subsequently, the oomph to partake,” Dr Ngurare said.
He hailed political parties such as the Landless Peoples Movement (LPM), Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and to a certain extent, the ruling Swapo party for incorporating young people on their parliamentary lists.
Dr Ngurare further lamented the fact that institutions such as the National Youth Council of Namibia (NYC) which was built to promote the welfare of young people, irrespective of their political affiliation, have since been captured and are being used for political expediency.
“Yes, we dominated it from the side of the youth league, but this organization is for all Namibian young people. What happened was that hand-clappers were appointed in key position in order to push certain agenda. As such, the NYC lost its original objective to the detriment of the nation’s youth,” Ngurare said.
He further maintained that the National Youth Service (NYS) which was created to promote the spirit of patriotism and eventually self-reliance among the youth also suffered the same fate.
Dr Ngurare urged that with the emergence of socially conscious young people. It is imperative that they are deployed in leadership positions at this organization in order to revive the synergy between these vital bodies, government and the youth population.
Meanwhile, the avalanche of opinions that are currently flooding through the country’s political space in the form numerous campaigns, primarily manned by young people and using digital forms of activism, raises questions as to whether these initiatives are enough to halt the perpetuation of inequalities.
Nashinge, admittedly a Swapo party member who during the past election was an unapologetic campaigner for independent presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula, maintained that their quest is not to start a new political party, but to bring about change in the upper echelons of the existing party.
“We are Swapo members. We just want a different leadership,” Nashinge said. Ngurare urged all young people, irrespective of their political affiliations to come together, remain patriotic and to stay true to the ideals of the nation.