Former SWAPO Party Youth League Secretary, Elijah Ngurare, says the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Services needs over N$2 billion to successfully fulfil its critical mandate, amid rising youth unemployment.
Ngurare said it was strange that the ministry’s budget has been cut by N$200 million over the past two years, saying the decision by government was “antiquated logic” given that over 50 percent of the country’ population comprises of the youth.
He said the youth ministry deserved a N$2 billion budget and not the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, arguing that the Food Bank programme under the poverty eradication ministry promotes laziness and dependency.
“Over 50 percent of the population is made up of young people. It means most socio-economic challenges affect the youth the most. To argue that the budget of the youth ministry can be cut because it is catered for by other ministries is antiquated logic.
“Sports development needs attention as well as other programs in the youth ministry.
“The ministry deserves over N$2 billion and not the Food Bank ministry which promotes laziness and dependency. Job creation activities are part and parcel of the ministry of youth, as well as programs of nation building,” Ngurare said.
The Food Bank, which was launched in July 2016, is Goal 7 of President Hage Geingob’s Harambee Prosperity Plan, which targets zero deaths due to hunger.
SWAPO Youth League Secretary, Ephraim Nekongo did not want to respond to questions about the youth ministry’s budget cuts, saying that he will call a press conference on the matter next week.
“I will call a press conference on this next week. All your answers are contained in our speech,” Nekongo told the Windhoek Observer.
One senior official at the youth ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Windhoek Observer that the ministry is not taken seriously in Namibia.
“This ministry has the most frustrated employees in the government sector. It is a pity that there is a misunderstanding of office bound and field workers. We got the most unrealistic budget. We are not taken seriously,”the official said.
Last month, the Windhoek Observer reported that over 600 trainees at the National Youth Service’s (NYS) training centre in Rietfontein faced a bleak future after they were asked to stay at home for an extended period because there was no money available to buy them food, books, uniforms and other essentials.
The students have since reported back to the training institution this week, according to NYS CEO, Onesmus Upindi.
NYS is set to receive a total of N$36 million in the current budget from its line ministry, down from the N$76 million it received in the previous financial year.
Upindi further told the Windhoek Observer that their current budget is not even enough to cover their wage bill.
“I am currently out of town, here at Rietfontein welcoming students back. The budget we are getting now is not even half of the wage bill. What we receive has been going down and down all the time.
“Sometimes we don’t even get the rest of the money. How will we sustain the organisation? We understand the economic situation, but unfortunately we have programmes to run,”Upindi said.
Academic and social commentator, Ndumba Kamwanyah, said for too long the youth ministry has been used as a dumping ground for non-performing ministers.
“Two years in a row suggests the low importance attached to it. Historically, in all three governments that we had since independence, the youth ministry was not seen as a key or strategic ministry, but as a dumping ministry for deadwoods and non-performing ministers and officials.
“But it should not be like that, because the youth are any country’s best resources and therefore should take a priority in budget allocation and planning.
“If we really believe the youth are our future leaders, we must turn the tables and prioritise this ministry, in terms of leadership and programs,” Kamwanyah said.