SPYL undermining the youth agenda

19 October 2012
Author   Vincent Shimutwikeni & Tuhafeni Muhongo

OF all political party youth wings in Namibia, the Swapo Party Youth league (SPYL) is undoubtedly for obvious reasons, the most relevant because it has the largest youth following in the country, seems to be well-organised and it has the necessary clout to influence issues of national importance.

It is for the above reason that it is strongly argued that the SPYL, by default, owes each and every Namibian youth, regardless of their political persuasion a duty to advocate and robustly but astutely advance the youth agenda.

In light of recent developments, with particular reference to the recent SPYL congress where Mr Elijah Ngurare, a gentleman that by mistake, can easily be said to be 50 years of age was elected as the SPYL head; SPYL’s planned nomination of Jerry Ekandjo for SWAPO’s vice presidency and the recent nomination of three retired army generals to represent the SPYL at SWAPO’s upcoming elective congress beg the assessment as to whether the SPYL is keeping true to the youth agenda.


What is the youth agenda?

The youth agenda encompasses an array of issues. For present purposes, the youth agenda can succinctly be stated to entail the social, economic emancipation and political empowerment of youth.

The agenda calls for youth to assert themselves in the political arena in order to take charge of their destiny and ensure change on their social circumstances. It should further be stated that the youth agenda is concerned with the pursuit and attainment of the highest standards and best practices in all facets of the country’s life.

Youth organisations have been hijacked by “youth”

The recent election of a person way older than the age of 35 to head the SPYL is most unfortunate. The SPYL constitution may provide that one retains their youth status until the age of 45 but such a provision is contrary to various international legal instruments that provide for the age at which one’s youth status seizes.

The Namibian Constitution, the mother of all laws in Namibia provides that one is eligible to run for the highest office in the land at the age of 35, by implication, it can be positively said that in Namibia one’s youth status seizes at the age of 35 years.

Accordingly, a person below the age of 35 should head the SPYL or any other youth organisation in Namibia for that matter. If youth as defined above are not afforded a chance to gain leadership skills within their supposed organisations, when shall Namibia ever witness the emergence of youth into critical structures of government to allow the realisation of the youth agenda?

The Jerry announcement... got heads spinning and stomachs in knots

The planned nomination of Jerry Ekandjo as the SPYL’s choice for SWAPO’s vice presidency which would subsequently catapult him to the highest office in the land has been argued elsewhere to be tragic as it does not inspire hope.

Ekandjo continues to behave like a cowboy in the Wild West in the execution of his official duties despite the fact that Namibia is a constitutional democracy premised on the rule of law and the respect for human rights.

Even if Ekandjo is a former Secretary of SPYL, there is no shred of evidence, particularly in light of his sorely poor ministerial and legislative track record to the effect that an Ekandjo presidency shall place the youth agenda at the fore and advance same.

The SPYL should instead be backing a youthful person of impeccable standing with a good track record in the execution of their governance duties and who has further shown to have meant the oath of protecting the tenets of Namibia’s supreme law.

The Generals . . . shocker of unparalleled proportions

Last Friday, when the country’s dailies screamed out headlines like: “SPYL nominates retired generals” and “Soldiers to storm SWAPO Congress”, one could almost have been forgiven for cursing. SPYL Central Committee . . . come on youth?

Three gentlemen, way past their twilight years, to represent the SPYL at SWAPO’s upcoming congress with a further hope that they are elected to SWAPO’s mother body structures?

Gen Shalli has been tainted by “serious allegations of irregularities” which he has not yet been cleared of and Gen Hawala is reported to have grave allegations concerning the Lubango dungeons hanging over his head to which he has not refuted to date.

Is this the calibre of persons that are going to be tasked to place the youth agenda at the fore and advance same in the event that they make it into SWAPO’s most powerful organs? Is the SPYL perhaps not over-looking youth in their ranks that are capable of doing the same? When will the SPYL start identifying youth to represent it at such critical party gatherings and subsequently in the party’s organs?

The SPYL should reclaim the youth agenda

The above is strongly persuasive of an indication that the SPYL has of late capitulated on the most salient features of the youth agenda and thereby undermining it. The SPYL has shown that it does not believe in the ability of youth to lead it as it has elected a non-youth to lead it.

The SPYL is not concerned with observance of the rule of law, the quality, standard and standing of leadership that Namibia should have, those who have proven time and again to behave contrary to the most elementary dictates of the law, those who have fallen foul of the law and those with damning allegations against them are being backed for positions of great power and influence.

The recent SPYL actions offend the youth agenda and this spells disaster for the youth countrywide.
The views expressed above shall most probably be brushed aside in some quarters of the SPYL as “pedestrian views” but the SPYL is nonetheless sternly implored for the sake of the youth and future of this country to place youth at the pinnacle of critical leadership positions to ensure that youth through youth direct their own destiny as opposed to doing so through non-youth or people of poor standing.

That is the only way that the youth agenda can be fully realised.


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