By Petronella Sibeene
An economic transformation convention to ponder critical issues regarding youth economic empowerment (YEE) is scheduled to take place tomorrow in the capital.
Organised by the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL), the convention comes on the eve of a Cabinet retreat that kicks off on Monday at Walvis Bay.
“As Cabinet holds its retreat, SPYL must ready itself to offer an agenda to Cabinet for discussion and decision,” acting secretary general for SPYL information and mobilisation, Bernadus Clinton Swartbooi, said yesterday.
The one-day convention to be officially opened by the vice president of the Swapo Party, Dr Hage Geingob, will be held under the theme “Accelerated Job Creation, Youth Employment and Economic Development”.
Eighteen years in post-independent Namibia, the youth have remained static in terms of empowerment and their challenges dissipated, Swartbooi said.
“The vast majority have remained at the economic periphery, living on the fringes in rural areas and urban dwellings, languishing under harsh and trying social and economic circumstances,” Swartbooi added.
Such conditions have led to dissatisfaction, disillusionment, social criminalisation and delinquency, hopelessness, decline of personal aspiration and political disengagement.
The youth comprise at least 60 percent of the country’s population and overall, unemployment stands at 36.7 percent while rural unemployment is at 45 percent.
Swartbooi acknowledged that, “Youth unemployment remains high … this means we must consistently search for ways and means to advocate for policies and programmes that will directly benefit our youth.”
He said SPYL would be at the forefront in ensuring that resolutions from the convention are implemented.
The convention is expected to issue a declaration, which would be taken to Cabinet for discussion, he reiterated.
It is believed that the declaration will serve as a pointer through which the SPYL will monitor and evaluate Government implementation of youth empowerment programmes and activities.
Meanwhile, Swartbooi called for economic emancipation of the youth adding that attempts to address poverty cannot exclude the youth that form a large section of the population.
The spectre of poverty is haunting in Namibia and the status quo thus demands that pro-active responses be identified to address youth and national economic struggle, he said.
He pointed out that the capital market in the country cannot be relied on to meet developmental needs of the historically disadvantaged Namibians.
Further, continued poverty of the majority of Namibians hallows the country’s democracy and statehood.
Thus SPYL’s economic struggle must be hinged on the essence for the State to be biased toward the majority of our poor people, and guarantee the achievement of social cohesion, unity and fairer wealth ownership, distribution and national prosperity.
“The challenge is to create jobs and trickle-down prosperity to all,” Swartbooi said.
In addressing these issues, the National Youth Council Bill is likely to be tabled during the course of this year. This will give more teeth to youth issues and perhaps create a youth development fund, Swartbooi said.
Also, the African Youth Charter Bill was recently passed by the National Assembly with the aim of strengthening the ministry responsible for youth affairs to develop cross-sectoral policies that would fast-track YEE.
Swartbooi said in order to fast-track youth transformation, restructuring of the State should be done to ensure institutions are well manned, mandate based and inclusive of the youth where necessary.
Delegates to the convention include 13 regional secretaries, mobilisers and finance secretaries. Members of Parliament, deputy ministers, youths, public and private sector stakeholders will also form part of the symposium.