For far too long many have argued that the country has been faced with a deficit of leadership and that new blood was needed, among others, to address the huge generational gap in our society. The upcoming regional council and local authority elections slated for 25 November have seemingly signalled that intent, judging by the overwhelming vote of confidence shown in younger politicians during party primaries over the last couple of weeks. Many other young people have also expressed their intention to stand as independent candidates in next month’s polls.
Historically, it is young people who have been at the forefront of bringing about social and political change. They remain the last hope of our future and vanguard of the revolution. For years, young people have been demanding a seat at the big table and this has culminated in the appointment and election of younger politicians across political parties. The likes of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and Landless People’s Movement (LPM) have all settled for younger candidates in their leadership, including giving them the opportunity to represent their constituency in parliament.
President Hage Geingob also appointed a youthful deputy minister in Emma Inamutila Theofelus who at the young age of 24 was named information and communication technology deputy minister in March this year. So, it is therefore not surprising to see the winds of change blowing across the ruling party in particular.
The ongoing primaries of Swapo have seen the old guard making way for younger candidates. This exemplifies calls to have vibrant, young and innovative leaders in our body politic. Indeed, it is young people who hold the key in every election and are considered the pathway to victory. They are not wrong to feel they are reduced to recipients of decisions rather than shapers of decisions. The lingering question, however, remains. Do young people bring a real difference to our politics apart from their age? Are these young leaders only interested in a better lifestyle and a much more fulfilling and well-paying job that is more satisfying? It is our sincere hope this will not be the case.
Would-be councillors have a mammoth task ahead of them, including addressing the urgent needs of citizens, especially at grassroots level. There is equally a massive weight of expectation for them to deliver on bread and butter issues, including residential land challenges, housing, sanitation, provision of water and electricity and a potpourri of other urgent needs. Those aspiring to be political leaders need to be supported and guided through the necessary platforms in order to allow them to actively pursue their ambitions in the interest of the country and its citizens. Collectively, and as Namibians, we need to embrace them as they take on the daunting task of making those aspirations and priorities a reality.