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Opinion: Youth empowerment in Namibia

2021-07-30  Staff Reporter

Opinion: Youth empowerment in Namibia

The fight for youth empowerment is equally important as that of equal gender representation within the Namibian sector. 

With little progress having been achieved and seen in terms of youth empowerment, the current question remains, is the progress the country managed to make towards youth empowerment and gender representation enough? The answer is a definite ‘on’. 

On the progressive front of youth empowerment, the appointment of a few young people in the National Assembly, ministerial positions and personal assistants (PAs) to high public officials pose as key practical scenarios that show the effort by the current administration in wanting government to coexist with the youth. 

In contrast, is the effort by government sufficient or is government supposed to be doing more in terms of increasing youth empowerment within the public sector? I guess the question does create an opportunity for critical thinking and analysis amongst the youth of Namibia.

The youth have to come together in the fight for their empowerment irrespective of their political and or social stands. For instance, there is absolutely no need for the country to have two organisations that strive for the same purpose because it shows the lack of competence in young people to take the lead. 

The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) and the Students Union of Namibia is a division that we should have never allowed to happen. When young people are legitimately expelled from organisations and alternatively move from Nanso to form their own student organisation that serve the same interests as Nanso, then how is that beneficial to students? 

Together and in unity, the purpose and mandates are timely executed but when we are divided, then the sobriety of public organisations and their mandates are compromised. Broadly, young people need to understand that public organisations and institutions that are to operate independently should not be degenerated and used to serve personal and political interests.

Alternatively, we as young people should refrain from wanting things to happen overnight, instead, while awaiting for an opportunity to arise, that should be the important time to empower oneself with the necessary skills. It could be experience or building up our qualifications or building a reputable social image. Work, such as that of Ladislaus Shindimba Shikerete, an employee of the Rundu Town Council and a local entrepreneur who went on and researched on how to turn local waste (plastic) into building bricks is the type of initiatives one would want majority of the young people to embark on. It further shows how young people can empower themselves, rather than awaiting bureaucratic actions of the government that actually take long to be executed.

Relying on the government to help the youth is not always an effective alternative, even though each democratic government exists to serve its people. Factually, government is not going to empower all young people – and as a result, the need to lookout for oneself is eminent. Instead of “separate hustles”, what we could do is join forces, try to find purpose in partnerships to build gross benefit businesses like building an oligopolistic market. 

We get it, monopolistic market is the big thing we all know about, but we can say that it is not always the case. Crowding the market with individualism is just as much of a problem as unemployment is and that will not grow the youthful population in the long-run, and or, positively contribute to national development. 

The youth should strike any and every opportunity that is capable of empowering them – united and unified; hence, there is no good in living for the moment. Advisably, a better adult is the one that was able to rightfully prepare for adulthood during youthful years by not fast-tracking anything that needed time to diligently prepare for in timing. 

Therefore, they say, ripe watermelons are juicy and pleasant to eat than unripe ones. You do not want to realise that you harvested your watermelon before it had ripened when you are 50 years old. 

Which leads to the question, what should young people do as a way to counter youth empowerment in Namibia? Is awaiting a decisive action (s) from the government a long-term solution? Unfortunately, I disagree. Is standing up against the government the solution? Potentially, it could be, if it is done procedurally because national government should seek to serve and address challenges faced by its inhabitants.

The one message that I will share with young people of Namibia is for them to slow down and shape themselves up for what is to come. Certainly, no individual or organisation is going to empower you if you are reluctant in any way. Although, the future may be youth oriented, its fruits might not be for all young people, and so we should work on bettering ourselves!

Youth unemployment rate stands at 46.1%, which is an awful and worrisome figure. How will that figure drop when we still have elderly people in employment at the age of 60 and beyond? There is a need for legal action to be taken against elders who stay in employment beyond the retirement age (60 years) both in public and private institutions. 

Consequently, it does not matter if the particular person in question is my father or mother and or a close relative. The law should be enforced in ensuring that it is adhered to and for the empowerment of young people to become a reality. For as long as there are people that stay employed at 60 years and beyond and a central government that is doing little in empowering the youth then the chances of Namibia as a country to drastically reduce both the national unemployment and youth unemployment rates will be zero to none.

Overall, one can say that youth empowerment in Namibia is still being enforced poorly and on a relatively small scale. Young people are graduating and going on the streets rather than into occupations they studied for, this happens because of poor leadership and a lack of urgency in empowering young people. 

It is only in countries such as ours where one will find youth organisations and institutions being led and administered by people who do not form part of the youth classification. Hence, such cases are the reality within youth leagues of political parties. 

The National Youth Council (NYC), National Youth Service (NYS), and many other youth organisations and institutions should create a direct relationship with the people they are held accountable for. It is odd to know that there are young people that do not even know why some of these youth-based institutions exist. 

In the past year or three, how many policies were adopted in the National Assembly to serve the interest of young people? In answering that question, evidence will be given as to why youth empowerment in Namibia is done on a small scale. 

It is important to comprehend that there is no economy in the world that has ever developed and able to transform itself out of joblessness and it did not have ultimate confidence in its own people, ask yourself whom are we referring to? Hopeful your answer is the same as mine.

2021-07-30  Staff Reporter

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