Executive chairperson of the National Youth Council Sharonice Busch sat down with New Era’s journalist Kuzeeko Tjitemisa to shed light on her first year in the role and plans for her organisation ahead.
KT: It has been almost a year since you were elected as the executive chairperson of the National Youth Council (NYC). How would you describe your first year in that role?
SB: The transition into the role of executive chairperson has been very challenging – a positive challenge. This year fundamentally was made up of understanding the systems, processes, practices and culture within the institution. The year also required renewed engagement with both internal and external stakeholders of the council. The year was coupled with orientation to the staff of the council on my leadership approach and working styles. I have a hands-on approach.
KT: The NYC was created to address the challenges, opportunities and obstacles facing the youth. However, the majority of the youth are of the feeling that the council does not adequately address their matters. How would you respond to this?
SB: The NYC has structures through which youth participation is guaranteed.
The Namibian youth are encouraged to participate through the structures of the council, where they have a direct stake in ensuring that the NYC’s trajectory remains relevant and responsive.
The programme design and activities of the council are receiving urgent attention within the council. We are doing impact assessments that address the concerns. Research is an integral part of responding to trends and emerging issues, and allows for improved creativity and innovation. During my tenure together with my board, research and development are among the low-hanging opportunities we are leveraging on in transforming the council.
What programmes have the NYC implemented to ensure the youth receive the necessary skills to enter employment or to start their own businesses?
The goal of this project is to contribute to the national development efforts in achieving inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth by 2022. To reach this goal, the project is engaging youth in ecologically clean agribusiness initiatives; building the capacity of young people in modern agribusiness approaches; and encouraging youth entrepreneurship through agribusiness initiatives. A total of 84 youth are to benefit from the 12-months engagement on horticultural work at the 14 regional sites. At least 33% of the beneficiaries were given a week-long basic training course on horticulture in the month of June 2021, with the expectation that the trained ones go and train others at the site level. During their engagement on the programme, beneficiaries are receiving stipends for six months, and thereafter they are to depend on the sales of the agro-produce from their site. The current beneficiaries are due to graduate from the programme by the end of December so that other youth can also benefit from the same projects.
Youth Development Grants Programme (YDGP)
The objective of this grant is to enhance business production, and thereby contribute to employment- creation. Through this initiative, the NYC will procure production equipment for existing businesses that seek to expand their operations and create additional employment for young people. Initially, an amount of N$1 050 000 was allocated to benefit only 42 youth-owned business. However, an additional N$1 050 000 was allocated from the 2020/2021 budget to increase the number of beneficiaries to 84, which is now six youth-owned businesses per region, which will each get equipment support to the value of N$25 000. The criteria for eligibility are that applicants must be Namibian youth between the ages of 18 to 35; the business being supported must be owned by the young person, or a young person must at least own 51% of the business; the business must be registered, and should have been in operation for at least six months before applying for the support; and the business should be operating in one of the priority sectors, being manufacturing; food-processing; catering and decorations; IT and business service centres; auto services; small-scale stone processing and agriculture.
A total of 80 youth-owned businesses are due to receive their equipment from the council during this quarter of the financial year.
Youth Leadership Development Programme (YLDP)
This programme focuses on building the capacity of individual youths on different topics of leadership over the past 11 years in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). Due to limited funding, the programme is on hold this year while the council is mobilising resources.
Credit for Youth in Business
CYB is a loan guarantee programme aimed to support young people who are involved in business activities, especially those without adequate collateral for business loans. The programme is currently on hold due to evaluation, thus no intake is scheduled, waiting for the outcome of the evaluation to guide the future of the programme.
What are some of the council’s priorities for the upcoming year?
SB: The strategic objectives of the council which inform the activities and programmes we are currently running: Create an enabling environment for youth organisations and strengthen the youth movement in Namibia; Ensure the formulation and implementation of responsive policies and programmes that lead to the social, economic and political empowerment and development of the Namibian youth; Ensure an innovative, professionalised and evidence-based approach to youth development; and Create a strong youth service-oriented institution by ensuring operational effectiveness and efficiency.
KT: What will you highlight as some of your achievements during your first year at the council?
SB: Overseeing and finalising governance frameworks of the institution, and improved consultation with youth structures. During the lockdown, we were all forced to digitalise our work. My office initiated virtual consultations with regional coordinators and regional chairpersons, as well as hosting a meet-and-greet with the national affiliates of the council. This was done to ensure I understood the expectations young people have of me, but also to discuss what their challenges with the council are – if any; and how these challenges can be solved.
KT: What are the total assets of the NYC, and how are these being utilised to generate revenue?
SB: The NYC’s total assets in terms of items of property and equipment are as follows:
Land – N$4 275 000
Building – N$10 355 000
Furniture and fittings – N$154 053
Office equipment – N$74 528
IT Hardware equipment – N$74 790
IT Infrastructure – N$98 823
Other equipment – N$6 500
TOTAL: N$15 038 694
Currently, the NYC does not generate revenue from assets as they are used mainly for administration and assisting Namibian youth with office space and transport on request.
The NYC also has an economic entity, where the mandate is to diverse the revenue streams of the council and address the issue of sustainability of the operations, programs and activities of the council.
KT: What are you going to do to eradicate period poverty?
SB: The NYC is a government agency under the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service. The development of the country is espoused in the development plans such as Vision 2030, the NDPs, HPP and the SDG’s – these instruments guarantee the wellbeing of the Namibian youth, that we as youth are purposeful and are productive citizens.
We are implementing the recently-launched National Youth Policy III, an instrument through which youth development is being mainstreamed. This means that youth development interventions in the public sector are included on all levels of governance. The policy calls for strong partnerships between government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, civil society and the youth sectors. These kinds of collaborations and partnerships can dent inequality and poverty.
On 17 October 2021 (which is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty), the NYC and civil society launched the Manifesto for the Eradication of Poverty in Namibia. The manifesto contains 10 interventions as urgent in our fight to arrest poverty. This manifesto was submitted to the minister of youth.
In recent months, NYC staff have expressed dissatisfaction with some members of the management of your institution, claiming nepotism, irregular appointments and even tribalism. What do you have to say about these allegations?
SB: Since my appointment, I have made it a high priority to ensure that the NYC is governed by principles that strictly adhere to good corporate governance.
Anyone with credible claims that are supported by evidence is welcome to approach my office, and is assured that swift action will be taken should any member of the team violate our regulations.
To date, two complaints reached my office. Both matters have been escalated through the appropriate channels to the board, where both matters were resolved.
My office door is always open to any aggrieved person who may have been treated unfairly. I am working hard to make it easier for people to raise issues without fear of retribution.