Since its formation in 1969 the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) has been a vital and influential part of the ruling party Swapo. The league has been home to some men and women of great stature and intellectual giants with impregnable leadership acumen and credentials.
Apart from it being the conveyor belt of Swapo’s ideologies, policies and programmes, the SPYL has also been the grooming school of future leaders for both the ruling party and country.
The league famously groomed the likes of Jerry Ekandjo, Pohamba Shifeta, Kazenambo Kazenambo and Charles Namoloh who all served or are still serving as Cabinet ministers in our country.
It also served as an incubator for several current and former deputy ministers, diplomats and other leaders in government and the private sector.
The current SPYL – whose leaders traded punches last weekend because they seemingly could not differ maturely – bears no resemblance to the one that produced the leaders earlier mentioned.
Factional tendencies have reached worrying proportions such that the Swapo headquarters, a sacred place in political circles, was turned into a turf for physical assaults. We neither support the physical act, nor the verbal attacks that seemingly prompted it.
Even its detractors would, perhaps in whispers, agree that the SPYL occupies an important space in Namibia’s political history. Whatever the league does or says leaves an indelible mark.
Unfortunately, the weekend’s incident too would form part of the history of this once respected body. The physical scuffle is a far cry from what the SPYL was and is meant to be.
The fight is an indictment of the league’s sad current state and goes a long way to show the lack of organisational and leadership discipline within the youth organisation today.
For the constituency that the SPYL represents – the Namibian youth – it is simply difficult to listen to leaders who cannot handle their differences maturely and with verbal conviction.
Yet the SPYL has been a vehicle for Swapo to reach out to young people in this country, who in fact form the majority of the populace.
What happened to the SPYL that manufactured leaders of high intellectual capacity, vision and good leadership skills? What happened to the SPYL that debated issues and not personalities?
Even in its heyday as a militant body, the SPYL never had high-profile incidents of physical confrontations.
The Swapo leaders have often tried to let the league handle its own affairs without interference, but this episode could be used by some rogue elements in the mother body to interfere and use the league to pursue their own parochial interests.
The current SPYL lives in a better era. More of its members have tasted education, freedom and democracy. The league also has better resources today than it did during its formative years in Tanzania.
This exposure, and resources, should have naturally armed the current crop with better leadership and other skills, including the know-how of having an educated conversation even when there is a clash of perspectives.
With all these advantages, the SPYL ought to navigate its way around issues and not let it become a shadow of what it used to be. The SPYL’s glory days should be today, not yesteryears.