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Youth leagues emerge from hibernation 

2023-09-06  Aletta Shikololo

Youth leagues emerge from hibernation 

While youth wings have long been seen as incubators for future party leadership, commentators have cast doubt on their effectiveness, accusing them of being dormant and not effectively representing the interests of young people.

Political analyst Natji Tjirera went as far as questioning the existence of youth leagues in Namibia. “Youth representation in political parties is very weak. Of late, we have seen young people brought to parliament from across political parties – but other than that, I don’t see active youth political movements,” the analyst noted.

Giving examples, Tjirera said the likes of Ephraim Nekongo, the secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL), are vocal on numerous issues, but his actions do not sufficiently address the interests of young people. 

Tjirera, who was once a member of the Congress of Democrats (CoD), said, “He is not too vocal with issues affecting young people”.

Furthermore, Tjirera also said the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) youth league had seemingly faded into obscurity since its congress collapsed.

 He remarked, "I don't even know if IPC even has a youth league”. 

Tjirera also lamented the apparent decline in the significance of political youth leadership. 

“During our years, we called it the vanguard of the political ideology, but I don’t see that nowadays. They probably don’t see the need for having a well-organised youth league and strong advocates for youth matters in political parties,” he said. 









Political analyst Ndumbah Kamwanyah shared his concerns about the inactivity and misalignment of youth leadership within political parties. 

Kamwanyah noted that many youth leaders often align themselves with their elder counterparts, championing the causes of the older generation, thereby losing sight of the pressing issues and challenges confronting young people.

 “So, they need to reflect and fight for spaces within their political parties and make sure they articulate the aspirations and issues affecting young people,” he urged.

Kamwanyah, however, acknowledged the activeness of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) youth league.

“We have seen their activeness in terms of addressing young people and advocating for their rights, but the rest don’t articulate issues affecting young people,” he said.



Duminga Ndala, the leader of LPM’s youth command element, responded firmly to the critics, dismissing claims of dormancy within the youth leagues as mere atmospheric commentary.

Ndala asserted that among all the youth leagues, theirs has consistently been at the forefront of setting the youth agenda.

“We might not have been speaking to every issue affecting young people but I think the pertinent issues we have been dealing with is youth unemployment and financing,” she explained.  

The youth leader said the youth command element declared to speak to how young people can be integrated into various sectors of the economy. 

Speaking on what the youth command is doing, as the elections are slowly approaching, Ndala hinted that the youth wing will announce its manifesto next month.

“This manifesto will align with what we, young people, would love to see in different sectors of the country or what should be done to improve the economic status of young people in Namibia.

Part of the youth command element’s manifesto will be incorporated into the mother body’s manifesto.

She said the youth wing has also embarked on its campaigns, which will also be officially launched late this year.

The campaign will be entitled, #RegisterToVote, aimed to encourage young people not only to register to vote but also to indeed cast their votes.


Meanwhile, Nekongo said SPYL has already hit the ground running in terms of preparations for the campaigns.

Though he was reluctant to delve into what the league is doing specifically, he said, “We are ready – and when the right time comes, we will mobilise young people to register to vote and also go in masses to go vote for Swapo party so that the party can continue to govern and lead this country to prosperity,” he said.

Nekongo acknowledged challenges people face, such as housing, lack of access to healthcare and potable water, as well as unemployment.

Nekongo said the league is already at the helm to discuss extensively and come up with targeted interventions to address the issues in question.


With the 2024 presidential elections inching closer, the youth wing of PDM is also in the process of reviving its organisational structures, which had been invalidated, following the unsuccessful congress in 2021.

The league’s leader, Julia Nekwaya, said the party is reorganising the structures and predicted the upcoming congress to be held towards the end of the year or early next year.

She said she is currently on a nationwide tour, visiting young people in rural areas and assessing their situations.

“We are having meetings with the youth and trying to figure out what is that they are lacking. You might have seen or not seen the press statement I issued on green schemes that are not utilised and many young people resort to alcohol because they cannot find things to do,” Nekwaya shared.

Nekwaya voiced disappointment over the neglect of rural young people in terms of capacity-building and investments, highlighting it as one of the primary issues the league is addressing.


The All People’s Party Youth League (APPYL) also shared that they are currently addressing issues of unemployment, landless people as well as issues of undocumented people.

“I believe this country is not at the level where it is supposed to be, and we are travelling all over the country, tackling some of the serious issues young people of the country are currently facing,” said APPYL’s president Fredrick Kawana.



2023-09-06  Aletta Shikololo

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