With opposition political parties leading the pack in regards to the infusion of young people within their parties’ leadership positions, the Swapo Party Youth League is considering whether to lobby the mother body for the future introduction of a quota system that will ensure the higher placement of younger people on the Parliamentary list.
This telling revelation was made by SPYL secretary Ephraim Nekongo following a query by this newspaper on what the possibilities are for Swapo youths to ascend to a leadership position in a political establishment dominated by political dinosaurs.
Nekongo maintained that, while the youth league has young members who are willing and able to take the baton, this transition will require that the party collectively revisit some of the policies about the infusion of the party’s rank and file into leadership positions.
“For one to be a leader you have to go through the Electoral College. To get there, you have to be a card-carrying member of the party for at least five years. The young people are there and the party is ready to infuse them in positions of authority. But we have our own dynamics in Swapo that must be followed,” Nekongo said.
He cited as an example that there is a strenuous grooming process that young leaders have to go through before they earn their promotion.
“You do not come from nowhere and walk your way into a leadership position, as is the case with parties where you can join today and ascend to leadership tomorrow. What if you are coming there intending to destroy the party? This is why the party should be careful,” Nekongo said. However, he hinted that the young people are not entirely happy with the status quo.
“There is not much that we can do right now, apart from lobbying the president to include more young people in his slate. But in the future, we will have to sit down and deliberate on our policies and relax some of the requirements. We should discuss changing the membership tenure limit from five years to two to ensure that more young people have a chance to make it through the processes,” Nekongo said.
Ironically, last week former SPYL leader Elijah Ngurare hailed the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) of Namibia and the Landless People Movement (LPM) for their inclusion of young people on their parliamentary lists. He called on other political parties to follow suit.
Utaara Mootu (23) will walk into parliament under the LPM banner, alongside former land reform deputy minister Bernadus Swartbooi, LPM's deputy leader Henny Seibeb and Edson Isaack. The PDM which won 16 seats in parliament will usher some of the youngest faces into the National Assembly, in the form of Winnie Moongo (31) as well as Inna Hengari (23).
Both Maximillian Katjimune (21) as well as Yvette Araes (28), who featured on the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s endorsed party-list failed to make the cut after the party decided to revert to the list of parliamentary hopefuls which emanated from its electoral college and was endorsed by the party’s central committee. Hengari is set to become Namibia’s youngest parliamentarian.
This influx of young faces with the potential to articulate modern ideas into the ageing, greying Parliament is not unprecedented. Upon his appointment in 2002, McHenry Venaani was the youngest Member of Parliament at 25. Similarly, current PDM Parliamentarian, Vipuakuje Muharukua who entered the fray after the 2014 elections at the age of 31, was also the youngest in the august House at that time.