On the ongoing debate about youth participation and mainstreaming, New Era’s chief political reporter, Elvis Muraranganda, sat down the African youth representative at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Speaker of the Namibia Children’s Parliament, Norman Ndeuyeeka, to tell us more.
EM: What would you say is the status of youth politics in Namibia and Africa?
NN: Well, the status has changed drastically over the past few years. It is no longer popular as it used to be back in the day and its pattern, as well as influence, has equally lost popularity among young people or youth. Comparing Namibia to other African countries in terms of youth participation, one would say Namibian status is the lowest to a certain extent.
Look at Zimbabwe and South Africa, for instance, the youth are united and able to bring a political point of view to the attention of their leaders for serious consideration, unlike us that are too afraid to act and more concerned about being labeled.
Our political status is too self-centred, whereas those that are in the luck think only of themselves. It is because of some of our weak political youth leaders that our youth political status is not as powerful and influential in Namibia as it should be. It would further appear that opting out of the democratic process is an indication of the cynicism that young people feel towards politics and the people involved in politics, because their issues are not represented by those they had given the mandate of power.
EM: What is the future of the Namibian child?
NN: As a youth representative, in my capacity as Speaker of the Youth Parliament, I would like to say that should more resources be allocated to the House, then the future of the Namibia Child will be bright and clear. This is because there will be more fieldwork than conferences and more representation in regions than the current window-dressing members.
As a politics and history student, I would further add that given the current youth leaders that are being groomed in the light of education to become informed leaders, I am quite sure that they will centre the interest of the country on children.
I am convinced that should there be educated and well informed youth to take over the helms of this country, provided that they don’t become greedy along the way, then the future of the Namibian Child is as bright as the full moon. With development partners and UN bodies on board I am positive all will be well.
EM: How is government prioritising youth concerns within the national development agenda?
NN: The Namibian government is really trying to a certain extent to uplift the youth, but often too many young people are either ignorant about government’s programmes, or perhaps they are just not good enough. But in areas such as access to health services and drought food distribution, government is doing fairly well on those scores.
However, for a very long time the government has failed to deliver on and denied the youth jobs. Government has also failed in teaching the young to become self-sufficient, instead of handing them food parcels. On the issue of education, the government is failing big time to champion the issue of free tertiary education with such a minor student population at that level.
EM: Describe the readiness of the youth to take over the baton of leadership?
NN: Honestly, the Namibian youth are not ready as yet to take over this country. It is unfortunate that I have to say this as a young person myself, but let’s take as it is a sad truth. 1) The current youth leaders are not as united as they should be; 2) Each young person in leadership has extra political agendas for self-economic-emancipation; 3) We are failing and refusing to be used by the current senior leadership for the good of the country 4) We refuse to think for ourselves and make meaningful contributions in society. When one speaks you can literally hear the voice of their master through them; 5) As young people, instead of fighting for each other we’re fighting against each other.
Young people are restless for opportunities and eager to claim their space, but the institutions of democracy have seemingly conspired against them. It is… our seniors refusing to go into retirement that further contributes to preventing young people from taking over [leadership roles] and getting them ready to do what is seen as a taboo to the youth.