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Swapo youth demand seat at main table

2022-07-05  Edward Mumbuu

Swapo youth demand seat at main table

Several young Swapo members between the age of 18 and 35 are demanding a seat at the decision-making table based on competency as opposed to being a mere “yes, man and yes, woman”, through elections or appointment.

This position was ventilated by several Swapo young turks who attended the just ended policy conference over the weekend.

Their proposals will form part of a final policy dossier that will make its way to that party’s elective congress later this year. 

The two-day conference kicked off on Friday to steer the party’s policies and lay a foundation for the intraparty elections. 

At least 600 Swapo loyalists attended the event.

A thorny issue that surfaced on Saturday is what has come to be known as the ‘Helmut amendments’, the alterations to Swapo’s constitution proposed by party stalwart Helmut Angula back in 2018.

According to the amendments, aspirants for the party’s presidency, vice president, secretary general (SG) and deputy SG positions must have served 10 “persistent and consistent years” in the central committee (CC) and should have been a party member for not less than 20 uninterrupted years.

At the time, the amendments were seen to be bona fide, as many believed they were guarding the party against infiltration by opportunists whose only desire is to vie for political office for self-gain, at the expense of Swapo’s ideology.

Things are different now as many young people who have risen through the structures of the movement feel left out.

“Our position is that the constitution must be amended to include the number of years one has been in the youth league central committee because it is the equivalent of the mother body’s CC,” a source said.

Also, among those who relentlessly pushed for the youth agenda was Willem Amutenya, one of the few vocal members of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) central committee.

Amutenya is the SPYL secretary of labour and justice.

When New Era contacted Amutenya to solicit comment on Sunday, he was in a jovial mood, saying for the first time in a very long time, youth matters took centre stage at a high level Swapo event, “And the elders listened”.

Overall, he was also impressed by the representation of young people at the session.

“The conference was surely very successful to us as the youth. We had enough representation. Our voice was heard. We can confirm that aspects of social, economic and political were addressed,” he said.

Amutenya then took time to thank Swapo chief administrator Sophia Shaningwa, for organising an inclusive event.

“I must thank comrade Shaningwa, our SG, for inviting comrades from other factions,” he said.

Amutenya then delved deep into their proposition as young Swapo members.

During the sessions, New Era understands, young people grouped themselves strategically to ensure they had a voice in all key thematic issues.

The issues ranged from employment creation, Namibia’s oil and gas sector, the hyped green hydrogen project, housing and economic recovery.

“When we talk about young people, we are refering to Swapo members between 18 and 35. We are not talking about anyone. You can’t be 50 and still consider yourself as a youth. Our party has been silent about this,” said another source.

At present, young Swapo members feel hard done by as senior party cadres make it to parliament and Cabinet due to their numerical advantage and not competency, hence the call for a quarter reservation. 

 “We must have a quarter of youth representation within decision making based on capacity. We must be appointed as ministers and sent to diplomatic missions.” 

On Monday, Swapo CC member and deputy foreign affairs minister, Jenelly Matundu heaped praise on their policy convention.

“The policy conference went well and ended in a unifying spirit,” Matundu said.

2022-07-05  Edward Mumbuu

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