Youth can spark a movement to change the political landscape in Namibia.
The current talk among the youth of not going to vote in the National Assembly and Presidential elections slated for November this year seems to be taking centre stage if not gathering momentum at a variety of platforms such as entertainment places, recreational facilities and in social media to mention but a few.
This is a worrying factor indeed which not only threatens the democratization process in the country but also poses a danger to the rule of law.
While one understands the frustration of all their ambitions, their growing anger fueled by the lack of employment opportunities, unavailability of study loans and bursaries, dearth of recreational facilities, non-availability of youth support schemes and the absence of social security fund for the unemployed youth, I am still not convinced that that should be reason good enough to cause the youth to stay away from the polls.
Because voting is a right enshrined in our statue books and every citizen has an obligation to exercise that right. Therefore, denying yourself a right to vote is depriving yourself a right to have a voice in the governance of your country. Remember your vote counts!Thus, planning not to vote is shooting oneself in the foot as that might result in the status of quo to remain.
After all, a decision to stay away from elections or an attempt to dissuade others not to cast their votes is tantamount to an act of treason.
Do not get me wrong, however. I am not in any way trying to suggest that the youth should simply continue voting for the party in power despite their dissatisfaction due to SWAPO’s failure to deliver on its promises. What I am saying is that the youth should have courage to vote differently so that the mandate of ruling could be offered to an alternative political party in the country. Otherwise as one wise man once remarked,” If you want change and you continue doing the same thing that is insanity.” Someone might well argue that it will make no difference to vote for a different political party as all politicians are just the same as’ birds of the feather happen to flock together’. I beg to differ with such assertion as it is you electorate who fail to hold to account those you elected to power and that triggers them to relax as there is no challenge from those who put them in power. So getting elected should come with accountability.
I would, therefore, like to urge the youth to take time to familiarize themselves with all political parties’ manifestos and political programmes so as to compare what each political party in the land has to offer to the electorate so as to enable them to take an informed decision when it comes to voting.
Namibia being one of the youthful nations around the globe with the youth making up the majority of the voting population the youth have indeed the potential to shrug off political dominance commanded by the aged section of the population who are using the youth as voting cows to pave the way for them to continue plundering the country’s economy through allocation to themselves fishing quotas, exploration licenses, shares in companies, farming land, free loans, the least is endless.
The deliberate exclusion of the youth from political activities and in fact from the economic activities perpetuated by the ruling elite seems to be a well calculated measure by these ruling hypocrites to turn our youth into beggars because beggars have no choice.
Therefore the youth of today need to aggressively address the issue of apathy and disinterest in political activities of the country to make sure that an alternative political party is handed over power through the ballot to deal with all the issues affecting all the sections of the population, the youth included.
The Oshiwambo proverbial expression that goes,” Uhe na omutanda ku na ongobe, uhe na omaona ku na oilya “Roughly translated meaning that, unless you have calves you do not have herd of cattle, unless you have seedlings you do not have millet” seems to have summed it all.
The analogy above therefore attempts to draw a linkage which appears to exist between the youth of today and the current political situation in Namibia where the majority of the youth are not involved in the politicking of their country. Instead their interest seems to be driven by the foreign football clubs especially the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga etc. The soap operas appear to have diverted their attention as well.
What could be learnt from that adage nevertheless is the fact that youth are the backbone of any society, Namibia inclusive and no country can afford sidelining them both politically and economically.
Echoing the similar sentiments is John F Kennedy who did not mince his words to underscore the fact that our answer is the world’s hope which is pinned on the reliance on the youth.
Kennedy further stated that the cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. “It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement of danger,” he further argued.
In conclusion he clearly shows that the world’s hope demands the quality of youth: “not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.”
Thusly, the youth need to and should start mobilizing themselves so that come the Election Day they would flock in big numbers to the polling booths to give a mandate to a political party that would change Namibia from a land in which the majority lived and continue to live with little hope, to the one in which they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the future if I am to borrow some sentences from the inaugural speech of Nelson Mandela when he was sworn in as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
But a question might well be asked as to which political party in Namibia offers an alternative government. To answer that question one needs to take a cursory historic analysis of some political parties and their performance. I would take three parties that seem to be dominant and competitive in the Namibian political arena.
DTA, recently rebranded as PDM was part of the colonial past who ruled the then South West Africa with the iron fist under the auspices of the so-called Government of the National Unity with direct control from South Africa.
Incidences of the suppression of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and association, the violation of human rights with impunity by the uniformed personnel, the detention of citizens without trial, the imposition of curfew on civilians and the malicious damage to property and the brutal killing of the innocent Namibians at the hands of the armed uniformed men happened under the watchful eye of DTA and are still fresh in our minds.
Meanwhile, after independence SWAPO was given mandate to rule Namibia for almost thirty years now; however, they failed to deliver on their promises. As such the country is in shambles. Because during its tenure of office rampant corruption and self-enrichment are experienced almost every day, nepotism and favoritism have become the way of living, the ailing health system, ill-planned and therefore unresponsive education system speak volumes about the governance adopted in the land, the sidelining and purging of intellectuals are daily occurrences.
The alternative party which should be given an opportunity to rule is, therefore,the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), because that is the only party which undertakes to restore the respect and dignity of the Namibian populace through the provision of free education up to the first university degree/qualification, the exemption of the retired persons from paying tax, the adoption of water harvesting techniques to harvest sufficient water for human and animal consumption as well as for green schemes.
In fact, RDP does not only pledge to abolish the party list system which makes elected officials to be accountable to the party instead of the electorate and introduce the ward system but to also amend the constitution to allow the citizens to vote for the governors directly.
The time is now for the youth to take a responsibility so as to take charge of their lives! Otherwise the only option available is either to swim or sink!