In light of the upcoming Swapo policy conference expected to set the tone for the much-spoken about 2017 congress, New Era’s Chief Political Reporter Elvis Muraranganda engaged the acting secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) and parliamentarian Veikko Nekundi (VN) on the conference, the wing’s agenda to that meeting and related matters.
NE: What would you say is a policy conference?
VN: It is a conference that sets policies. Well, for any organization to succeed it requires policies on which it shall develop its action plans or programmes. By implication, the conference sets the agenda framework. It is, therefore, important for the party [Swapo], being a large organisation, to draw cadres from all angles in order to discuss policy matter, be it to review existing ones or create completely new ones.
NE: Can you shed light on the upcoming Swapo policy conference?
VN: I highly respect the party’s protocols and hence against this background the party’s spokesperson is the right comrade to shed light on the upcoming conference.
NE: What matters or policy interventions will the youth/SPYL be pushing or pursuing at this conference?
VN: There are quite a number of issues that we would like to push and I just hope every delegate will understand us. Amongst others, we shall pursue the following matters:
The quota representation of youth in party leadership positions.
That a certain percentage of revenue generated from natural resources must directly benefit the inhabitants of the area from which these resources are extracted.
The creation of social housing for the people who cannot afford houses.
For study grants to be given to those that went through voluntary national service and study loans to those who did not.
Recruitment in the police and army to be reserved for those that have undergone voluntary national service.
That vocational training centres be established in all 14 regions.
UNAM and NUST to have campuses in all 14 regions.
And that all commercial farmers enter into a production output agreement with the state and failure to meet a set target should result in the state expropriating the farm in the public interest.
NE: Does this mean that the youth league supports the proposal of the National Youth Service for compulsory civil training and community service?
VN: Yes, it is good patriotic call.
NE: Speaking of policies, what is the league’s view of the Swapo succession policy?
VN: The party’s succession policy has got no problem, the challenge is that comrades get personal against each other. The tendency of character assassination becomes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Before the 2012 [elective congress], I posted on FB that we should avoid such because it will haunt the party beyond the congress. It is for these reasons that some opted to label me a coward for my advice.
NE: Who called you a coward?
VN: I am not at liberty to say who, but they know themselves.
NE: And how different would things have been had they followed your advice in 2012?
VN: The comradeship spirit would have been prevailing as stipulated in the party and wing’s constitutions.
NE: Swapo has mastered equitable representation for women through the zebra-list style. What does the youth league plan on doing to ensure that there is equitable representation of young people in Swapo positions?
VN: At the upcoming party policy conference we shall push for a youth quota on each gender. For sure the youth deserve representation. Setting a quota would be the only way we shall ensure proper generational succession, which are the ingredients of a progressive continuity.
NE: What is the status of preparations for the SPYL congress?
VN: Take it cool, I cannot just stand up and tell you about that. First the national executive committee, NEC, will have to discuss the congress and that will be followed by the wing’s central committee (CC). It is only after that process that we can share relevant information in this regard.
NE: Will you stand for election in your current portfolio?
VN: Allow me to enjoy my Christmas and New Year and we can talk about that thereafter. Furthermore, I can’t just stand up and talk about that, as the matter will be deliberated at the appropriate structures, which are the NEC and CC.
NE: What is the league doing to reinstate some of its expelled members back in their positions?
VN: We are a wing of the mother party, and by all standards, the wing falls within the broader leadership of the party. Therefore, we follow the directive of the party. This would be exactly in line with the Swapo Party resolutions of the 2012 congress and subsequently the party’s constitution. With that said, the party’s CC had resolved the matter and such resolution was communicated to the members shortly after that CC meeting by the Swapo secretary general.
NE: In your capacity, what have you advocated in the National Assembly?
VN: Well, I have been on record in the National Assembly calling for the youth to be included in all appointments, especially on boards of parastatals and councils of state-related institutions. As expected, some honourables got agitated by my consistent and persistent call for such. Also, I called for the establishing of a skills development programme in order to ensure that all young people, irrespective of their educational levels or village or family status, acquire much needed skills. Equally, I have since called for the introduction of a national minimum wage.
NE: There are calls for the disbanding of the ministry of youth – what is the league’s view in this regard?
VN: The SPYL structures, be it NEC or CC, have never discussed such a matter. What is important though is that the multiple challenges facing our youth must be addressed as a matter of priority. We need modern sports and recreational facilities in all 121 districts. We need youth centres in all 121 districts and we need all sports codes to be represented in all 121 districts. There is a need for all our sports codes to turn professional. We need programmes to instill economic-oriented skills in all our youth. We need genuine development of all our youth across all sectors.