WINDHOEK – The executive chairperson of the National Youth Council (NYC), Mandela Kapere, will be retiring in December after having served NYC for almost a decade.
Talking to New Era, Kapere shared his experiences, achievements and challenges he has faced during his journey of being NYC executive chairperson.
He describes himself as someone that believes in holistic youth development, which is a bit of a challenge among Namibian leaders.
In the interview with New Era, Kapere mentioned that during his term as chairperson they have managed to address the institutional reform of NYC from a small non-governmental organisation into a broad national organisation.
He added: “Basically we made NYC an organisation that is relatively well run, professionalised and well institutionalised.”
Recalling his achievements as a leader, Kapere said that they have a lot of influence in terms of shaping the youth development background.
“For a long time there was little focus on youth development in terms of what we need to do and systematically have to do. With things such as the youth status record and the review of the national youth policy, I think we now have a better understanding of where the sector needs to go,” he said and confirmed that they have seen an improvement in funding especially before the financial crisis.
Kapere said that when he started working for the NYC the budget of the council was about two to three million and before the financial crisis the council’s budget was 27 million, which proves that he and his team were able to mobilise resources into the sector.
Kapere, who spent most of the interview talking about and recalling the significant changes that he has made at NYC, said his favourite programme was implementing the youth grant fund, which funded over 50 various projects across the country.
“Some of the projects I have implemented are income generating and educational so during the period when we had the national youth grant fund we were able to inject much-needed financial resources in quite a number of youth organisations,” reckoned Kapere.
Throughout the years that Kapere has been serving NYC, the programme that has had the most impact on the Namibian youth was the youth leadership development programme, whereby over the course of about 12 years they have trained about 300 young leaders in leadership and development skills.
Commenting on the chances of employment among the NYC trainees, Kapere said that the economy is not really creating a lot of jobs but the fact that they get skills for free can be regarded as a significant achievement.
He said that despite that the government is unable to create a lot of jobs, NYC is the only programme where young people are able to get a full year’s education without paying for it.
“Unfortunately the biggest employer of NYC graduates used to be the Namibian Defence Force and the Namibian police but because they have not been recruiting for the past three years, it has been a challenge getting them jobs,” Kapere said sadly before adding that NYC is collaborating with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to tackle ways on how they will get some of the trainees jobs.
Kapere who was elected in 2010 as the executive chairperson described his journey as not just a walk in the park but full of bumpy rides, however through it all he has accomplished a lot.
Recalling some of his challenges as the NYC leader, Kapere said there are a lot of policy inconsistencies which means that a lot of the country’s leaders do not have a clear and consistent idea of what should be done for young people.
Kapere also complained that they have weak youth organisations in the country even though there is willingness among young people to make changes nationally.
He added: “We still have a long way as NYC to build the capacity of young people to manage and be able to run youth organisations.”
Talking about changes in NYC, Kapere said that even though the organisation has improved, they need to focus on being financially less dependent on the government, diversify NYC funding streams and institutionalise constituency and regional structures of youth.
Speaking at a youth week event in Kamanjab, sports minister Erastus Uutoni congratulated Kapere for his good leadership and said nobody will ever be able to fill his shoes and do what he has done for the Namibian youth.
Kapere who sounded passionate about his work and mission said he is looking forward to taste the waters of mainstream politics after his retirement.
New Era Reporter
2019-05-07 08:24:19 | 9 months ago