By John Ekongo
Mandela Kapere was elected unanimously and without contest during a National Youth Council (NYC) Representative Council meeting on Saturday, to the position of Secretary General of the NYC.
All other opponents withdrew from the race, ensuring an easy victory for the former Deputy Secretary General of the Pan African Youth Movement.
Kapere was widely speculated to take over from Juliet Kavetuna who became a Member of Parliament in April.
However, his ascension to the biggest youth position in the country, outside any party structures, was not without political manoeuvring by other would-be contestants.
Julius Namoloh, Gomotsang Mokaleng Kuzeeko and Longinus Ipumbu up until late last week were also said to be running for the position, but all candidates withdrew on the final stretch.
When New Era spoke to the various candidates, all had assured this reporter that they would run for the position and would not back down.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that of Namoloh, who declined a day before the election during a National Executive Committee meeting to pave the way for the Representative Council (RC) meeting the following day.
It is not known why Namoloh declined, despite constant reassurance in earlier interviews that this time around he would not be a compromise candidate.
It is the second time in less than three years that Namoloh has yielded to an opponent at the last minute.
The first was in 2005 when he contested against Ralph Blaauw in an almost similar situation.
Ipumbu of the Congress of Democrats Youth Wing declined his nomination on the floor during the RC seating, while the nomination of Mokaleng Kuzeeko was withdrawn by her sponsoring organisation Ikopeleng Youth Organisation.
Kapere will be acting until the next General Youth Assembly of the youth entity or until the New National Youth Council Bill is enacted in Parliament this year.
Once the Bill is passed, the NYC will be dissolved and re-established as a youth entity established by an Act of Parliament.
At that stage, the NYC will have direct access to Parliament and in all possibility will have the luxury of their own budget vote as opposed to being a unit receiving funding from the Directorate of Youth under the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture.