• June 3rd, 2020

Swapo youth and old guard tussle for parliament

Magreth Nunuhe

WINDHOEK – As of two weeks ago, only seven of the current 84 members of the Swapo central committee had indicated their non-availability to contest for positions at this weekend’s electoral college.

They are Immanuel Ngatjizeko, Asser Kapere, Sirkka Ausiku, Elia Kaiyamo, Mathew Mumbala, Ottilie Shinduvi and Tuarungua Kavari. This spells bad news for younger members of the party contesting at the electoral college, who may have thought many of the old guard would give them a free passage to parliament. While women are guaranteed their 50 percent representation, which will undoubtedly warrant their seats in parliament because of the ‘zebra style’ or 50-50 style that the party adopted in 2014, the youths might have to put up a ferocious fight to secure the 40 percent representation they so desire.

Youths have been silently calling for Swapo veteran politicians, who have been in the party structures for almost three decades or those who can no longer serve the nation amply due to frailty or old age, to step down.

The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) took the resolution to vie for the 40 percent stake at its youth congress in the Zambezi Region in 2017.

Nevertheless, SPYL secretary-general Ephraim Nekongo said that the youths’ intention is not to “overthrow” the old guard as perceived by some, but to see a generational mix of leaders in the next parliament.

“We are not fighting our elders – we also want to tap into their wisdom, but please consider our young people (for election at the pot),” he urged, saying the league wants to see a smooth transition of power from one generation to the next.

“Elders have the wisdom, young people have the energy,” he stated, adding that the youth want to be partners with the elders and do not necessarily want to demand to become ministers overnight.
In the same vein, Nekongo admonished the youth to organise themselves as they cannot allow the party to be destroyed by those with egos.

“Young people must be groomed – the pipe must keep flowing,” he said, condemning the notion of ‘independent candidates’ as not within the spirit of  Swapo Party. 

However, he said that the Swapo of yesteryear is not the same as that of today and members can be radical within the party but not to the extent of insulting each other.

“Why can’t we advocate for things that will build our country, such as coming up with plans for rural development? If we have young people in parliament, we will have a platform to bring new ideas,” he insisted.

Nekongo maintained that the rift between the youth and elders in the party was something of the past and they now have an open-door engagement with the Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa to whom they can freely address issues.

“We have common challenges that we need to focus on now. We need to create employment for our people – we need to transform villages,” he said.

Prominent Swapo veteran politicians approached for comment on whether they will stand for re-election were mum or simply refused to comment as speculation has been growing on who is most likely to be dropped at the pot.

Many veteran politicians failed to make it to the party list at the 2014 electoral college while others withdrew from contesting for own reasons.

Staff Reporter
2019-09-06 07:54:08 | 8 months ago

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