An article titled ‘A parliament of the elderly’ that appeared in The Patriot newspaper of 8 March 2019 is, to all intends and purposes, fake news that seeks to distort gains made by the ruling party Swapo in being an all inclusive party represented in parliament by a diverse set of individuals of a different range of age groups.
Although the article is titled ‘A parliament of the elderly’, it focuses on the polar end of the advanced members in age representing the ruling party.
A statistical analysis of the various political parties represented in parliament shows that the average age of Swapo parliamentarians using the statistical mean calculation and taking into consideration the ages of 74 members (as per members of the National Assembly on Wikipedia, and the parliament website that are available).
The average age of Swapo members of parliament is 58. The only party’s with a lower age average are APP (52): PDM (53) and UPM (50).
All other parties represented in parliament have a higher age average of members than the ruling party, RDP (62); Nudo (63) UDF (62); WRP (60) RP (63); Swanu (62).
The author of the news article, in an effort to editorialise the news and advance a false narrative of Namibia being a gerontocracy, states that, “the majority of members in the National Assembly are above the age of 60 years”.
This is a lie!
Accoding to the parliamentary list of 2015, only 41 percent of Namibian parliamentarians representing the Swapo Party are above the age of 60.
The rest, 59 percent, are under the retirement age (which does not apply to parliament) of 60.
The average age (mean) of all parliamentarians is 58.
The media has a responsibility to present news in an accurate manner. Newspaper readers do not have time to dissect information for themselves and rely on print media to present them with information based on accurate facts.
Not bias commentary and alternative facts that seek to cast aspersions with a view to mislead and further polarize society.
At the age of 25, McHenry Venaani became the youngest Member of Parliament at the age of in 2002. This was a milestone and an exception to the norm.
Regardless of the fact that the youth make up a large percentage of the country’s population, it would be naïve to assume that they are adequately equipped to become lawmakers entrusted with the legislative power to pass laws.
The age of majority in Namibia is 18, where an individual is vested with the right to vote and to be voted for in an election. Age 18 is also the school leaving age for most Namibian children who can then become active in party politics.
Unless one has distinguished themself amongst their peers, as someone with an in-depth knowledge of the law, past and previous, in all its intricacies - it would be unfair to think that by virtue of your youth alone you are qualified to become a lawmaker in the National Assembly.
A grassroots based democracy requires one to rise through the political party structures, learning through active participation in the different dynamics of politics and governance.
Once a comprehensive understanding of the political landscape has been achieved, then only should one contemplate standing as a candidate on a party list to be voted into parliament.
Jumping levels like Venaani did will only make you feel inadequate despite the title of ‘honorable’, to the point where you would buy a PhD from a fake university in order to boost your standing in society and stroke your fragile ego.
It is extremely dangerous to assume an office for which you are not prepared.
It permeates through your level of debate when you only seek to oppose the ruling party without providing alternative solutions to the countries developmental challenges.
Herein lie the pitfalls of becoming a parliamentarian at a young age through kinship ties rather than promotion through hard work and experience as was the case with Venaani.
There are only three remaining members of the Constituent Assembly of 1989 who are still members of the National Assembly 2015-2020 on a Swapo Party ticket. They are Jerry Ekandjo, Pendukeni Ithana and Zephenia Kameeta.
Leadership of a country is a constant transformational process with the elders making room for the younger. Swapo has stayed true to this evolutionary process by injecting new blood into the membership of the national assembly.
This is proven by a statistical analysis of the age of members of the National Assembly. It is necessary for the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) to counter the misinformation by journalists by stating the facts because even though journalists lie with the intent to deceive, misinform and mislead the public and the party’s membership.
* Vitalio Angula is a socio-political commentator and independent columnist.