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Home / SPYL's moment of truth… all eyes on elective congress

SPYL's moment of truth… all eyes on elective congress

2022-08-16  Edward Mumbuu

SPYL's moment of truth… all eyes on elective congress

The much-talked-about seventh Swapo Party Youth League congress to decide the youth wing’s leadership fate for the next five years kicks off tomorrow in Ongwediva.

“SPYL serves as an active, revolutionary and militant transmitting belt of the Swapo Party ideology, policies and programmes,” is embedded in the youth league’s constitution as its definition.

Whether or not the current youth league lives up to these ideals leaves much to be desired, analysts said. Political commentators opined the congress may be the defining moment for the youth to reassert itself as a force to be reckoned with, or further fade into obscurity.

Political scientist Rui Tyitende said the body is politically ‘dormant and dead’.

“We haven’t seen them being vocal about issues that affect the youth, whether it is unemployment, housing or ascending to the corridors of power in decision-making bodies,” he added.

According to Tyitende, SPYL’s dormancy, just like in many similar organisations, is attributable to the leadership aspirations of those at its helm.

 “Their upward mobility is intertwined with them not being critical of their leaders.

So, how can they critique or debate certain pertinent issues without stepping on the toes of their leaders? That is political suicide”, he observed.

Another analyst, Ndumba Kamwanyah, agreed by saying SPYL is a shadow of its former self.

He, however, hastened to say context is important when juxtaposing the current crop of SPYL to that of yesteryear.

“The enemy was clearly defined. That was an inspiration that drew a lot of young people, but also energised young people to focus, engage and confront issues pertaining to liberating Namibia,” Kamwanyah stated.

The same cannot be said today, he continued.

“Today, that clarity is not there. The approach has changed. We have seen a relaxation of the youth wing. They don’t see it necessary to challenge the government of the day because they think they are challenging themselves.”

The youth league, he added, has been forced to “self-censor itself to ensure it does not portray Swapo in a negative light.”

Different style

Yesterday, youth league spokesperson Gerson Dumeni disputed the dormancy tag, saying SPYL remains strong and relevant in the face of a multitude of challenges, compounded by ever-changing political and economic landscapes.

He said unlike previous SPYL leaderships who were known for their aggressive approaches, the current one adopted a consultative strategy.

“Our leadership came in as a consultative leadership. The youth league is a wing of the party. We are the advocates of development and implementation of the party manifesto,” Dumeni asserted.

SPYL leaders are not social media keyboard warriors, he added.

“We were the first to denounce that Fishrot scandal [internally], and that those implicated must be recalled from the seats. That was successfully done,” he said.

Instead of running to the media, bashing Swapo leaders for short-lived glory, “we run to where matters are resolved. If we realise a certain Cabinet minister is not performing, we write to that minister, or we sit with them. What matters are the results that come from that.”

Over the past five years, the perilous state of the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic hampered some of the youth league’s activities, he reasoned.

“The political dynamic has changed. We have been pushing for the inclusion of young people into the government and party [leadership] structures,” Dumeni said.

On his part, Willem Amutenya, who is contesting for SPYL’s top post, said the youth wing must introspect.

“We must read documents and take stock of what has transpired for the past five years instead of just focusing on the elections,” he noted.

When delegates return to their respective destination, post-congress, SPYL’s position on key economic areas must be clear.

“We must have a position on the state of education, including tertiary institutions. We must have policy positions regarding new developments like green hydrogen and oil, and on how best young people can benefit,” he said.

At the party level, SPYL must reflect on recent election results.

“How did we lose Swakopmund twice in a row?” asked Amutenya rhetorically. He is SPYL’s secretary for labour and justice.

Main bout

Amutenya faces competition from incumbent Ephraim Nekongo.  

The former’s candidature is contested by some quarters, who argue that Nekongo is the sole candidate, just like in 2017.

Amutenya’s nomination was sponsored by SPYL’s extraordinary conference in Oshikoto a week ago, in defiance of the national executive committee (NEC) that Nekongo and his deputy Christine Haindaka-Sikongo should run unopposed.  

“We only have the incumbent [Nekongo] as the candidate. I am not aware of the nomination of comrade Willem Amutenya,” said Dumeni.

He is perplexed by Amutenya’s purported candidature, as he was part of the NEC meeting that baptised Nekongo as the only candidate.



Amutenya remains firm in his resolve. The politician-cum-agripreneur said he would not have received instructions from the vetting committee to confirm or decline his nomination if it was not beyond reproach.

“Whoever presented Oshikoto’s report deliberately omitted my name out of fear of contestation. What they are forgetting is that excluding a resolution by a constitutional body is illegal,” he stressed.

Since his nomination, the youthful politician has been under pressure to pull out of the race, he charged.

“I am going to contest, and I am ready to serve,” he added unperturbed.

Nekongo declined to provide his vision for SPYL if re-elected.

“I have a lot on my plate. I will get back to you,” he responded.

The congress is expected to be attended by 700 delegates, and will be held under the banner: ‘A united youth towards economic recovery, employment-creation and sustainable development’.

Swapo leader President Hage Geingob will preside over the event’s opening.


2022-08-16  Edward Mumbuu

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