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Our Vision is clear - Dr Ngurare

In this exclusive interview with SWAPO Party Youth League, SPYL, Secretary, Dr Elijah Ngurare, Namibia Today's Editor, Asser Ntinda, asks him how he ended up being SPYL Secretary, the political toes he has stepped on along the way, the challenges he has faced and how he has survived several onslaughts to oust him from that position, as well as to why he declined to go to Parliament next year.

Question: As SPYL Secretary, how are things going?

Answer: Things are going well. In fact, I was adequately advised upon resuming Office that despite whatever challenges. I would face as Secretary or the mud thrown at me along the way, I must never compromise on principles. This advice has nurtured me throughout and will continue to nurture and guide me for the rest of my life.

Question: What are the biggest challenges facing the youth, and what do you think should be done to overcome them?

Answer: The biggest challenges facing the youth are poverty, hunger, unemployment, disease and ignorance. When we have consistently spoken about striving for "youth empowerment, rural development and genuine economic empowerment in all Constituencies of our 14 Regions" we mean exactly the need to see practical and sustainable indications of youth empowerment in the country.

The expectation of this advocacy is to see the youth having skills and the necessary capital to participate in the ownership and control of the means of production. The participation of the youth in wealth creation is fundamental to the success and attainment of economic independence.

Our SWAPO Party Government has continued to invest massively in education in order to train our young people, albeit challenges remain. In terms of the infusion of youth in decision making, many youth are now regional and local authority councillors, MPs, while many are public servants etc. But a lot still needs to be done.

On a daily basis, I am made aware of young people with exceptional talents and who do not need favours from government but merely support to actualize their goals and dreams. There are graduates without jobs from the University of Namibia, UNAM, Polytechnic of Namibia, the International University of Management, IUM and other institutions of higher learning that are on the street with skills.

In my discussions with comrades in government, I have observed that there is a political will in them to assist the youth in order to reduce unemployment.

However the challenge is how to implement these good intentions. We have in the past suggested that each Ministry should have a Youth Desk in order to speed up the implementation of youth empowerment and development agenda.

While at this point, I must appreciate those companies and individual ministers who have been willing to engage us on youth empowerment and development. What we must discourage is the tendency where ministries or politicians make lip service to the real challenges facing our youth.

In other words, we must discourage the temptation to play academic or political tricks with the hopes and expectations of our unemployed youth. What is needed is implementation, implementation and implementation of our policies and programs as a ruling party.

Question: What would you describe as your greatest achievements as SPYL Secretary?

Answer: Biggest Achievement is the establishment of the Pioneers structure and the hosting of the first ever Pioneers Congress in a free and independent Namibia. This way the future of SPYL and the SWAPO Party is in good hands. We are further gratified that SPYL remains a political magnet for both young and old, countrywide.

The 12 May Movement is also one of the greatest achievements. The 12 May Movement was established by SWAPO Party Youth League to celebrate the legacy of Dr Sam Nujoma for the role he played in Namibia's liberation struggle and for making Namibia what it is today, during the first 15 years of independence, which he served as its first President, Among the many valuable lessons Namibian youth can learn from the life of Founding President, Dr Nujoma, is that failure is not an option, and the youth must take pride in having made this noble initiative.

Other achievements include Africa-China Young Leaders Forum and the establishment of the Dr Abraham Iyambo Educational Fund.

Question: What were the factors that have brought about those achievements?

Answer: There were many factors, including upholding adhering, without fear, to the constitutional mandate for SPYL to be radical, militant and revolutionary in being the constitutional transmission belt of the SWAPO Party policies, ideology and programmes.

It must also be clear that SPYL's allegiance is to the SWAPO Party Aims and Objectives as well as Political Programme and its SPYL's own constitution. These documents spell out our role as leaders and members of SPYL as well as our rights and obligations as one of the three constitutional wings of the SWAPO Party.

It does not create a section in the constitution to be 'yes men' just for the sake of it. We must debate and engage issues without fear or favour. In so doing, we do not challenge any authority, but simply demand the implementation of decisions taken by the Congress (the highest decision making body in the SWAPO-Party) and we do so in accordance with the democratic rights conferred on us and spelled out by relevant articles of the SWAPO-Party constitution.

We cannot shy away from our responsibility and constitutional mandate entrusted upon us by the SWAPO Party Youth League.

Question: What would you single out as some of the failures you have to endure?

Answer: The SWAPO Party Youth League has for years struggled on the economic front in order to ensure that our activities are adequately funded. I want to commend the activism of the current leaders of National Executive Committee, NEC for their innovation and hard work.

I am sure soon we would be able to convert these challenges into opportunity for all SPYL members and leaders. I am currently the leader of the largest platform of volunteers in Namibia. This commitment and dedication is thus not a failure but can be an opportunity.

Question: There have been several attempts to oust you as SPYL Secretary. How have you survived?

Answer: Common sense prevailed. The biggest enemy is Poverty, Hunger and unemployment, not Ngurare. Moreover, I have always been guided by the principles of the SWAPO Party, especially Solidarity, Freedom and Justice. In this regard, the Constitution survived.

Ngurare is an individual that comes and goes but the constitution and the league are the ones that we must worry about.

Question: What were singled out as faults in your leadership that warranted your ousting?

Answer: I think it is not a matter of faults per se. Our observation is that most of the external attempts of ousting were informed not by principles but by perceptions that we were not easily cloned to become praise singers or puppets of certain individuals. It is purely on that basis that resources were invested to engineer various attempts of senseless ousting. In fact, if you ask as to whether there had been any disagreement on principles, I think you will find none.

Question: How have you coped amid such onslaughts? Answer: I have always characterized this by likening it to the rocks in the middle of the Kavango River. They never flow with the river even when the current is rough or high. They remains firm and steadfast.

I am therefore just like mamanya goporupupo kwasikama ndjikiti. That is exactly how we have coped with whatever currents thrown our way. We are particularly proud that we have so many young people today throughout the country very fearless, militant and patriotically stubborn in defending the SWAPO Party.

Question: What political toes have you stepped on that seem to have annoyed some of your comrades in the Party?

Answer: I cannot speak for them. Only they know best. I just hope that one day they will let me know. If they don't, so be it. Life goes. Ngurare comes and goes. So does everybody. But SWAPO Party will remain.

Question: Why did you decline to stand as a candidate for the 2015 National Assembly seats?

Answer: I have partly answered this question before. I was elected at the 4th Congress of SPYL in August 2007 together with other members of the Central Committee of SPYL with a clear mandate to advocate for youth empowerment and development in keeping with the SPYL Constitution as well as Future and Present Tasks of SPYL.

This was the constitutional mandate that we as SPYL members and leaders are advocating and vigorously promoting to ensure speedy implementation by the SWAPO Party government. The calls for youth empowerment and development, rural development as well as genuine economic empowerment to our people will remain a priority above all other priorities, hence our consistency in highlighting the attainment of these goals.

In particular, as can be recalled from my acceptance speech in 2007, we identified and declared the following basic needs as essential for the poor urban dwellers and rural areas: provision of affordable and clean water, electricity and toilets for our people to live a dignified way of life.

A lot of this has happened. I was not elected to campaign for myself to get a position in Parliament. I will complete my term and pass on the torch to others and thereafter I would go and do other things.

There is a very nice revolutionary song "Kondjeni no mukumo nehalo ewanawa. ...uuwanawa wetweni nge lyamanguka" ...literally translated: we must fight in good faith......Our victory is when we are free." Therefore, I say it is not correct for us to think that Parliament is the rewarding palace. What we must do is to make sure that we do not compromise the fight against economic colonialism.

We must fight and win this second phase of our freedom, and this cannot only be done through parliament. There are many fronts and we must remember the reward is when we achieve this freedom, especially economic emancipation.

Question: With all these challenges you have gone through, how do you figure out your future?

Answer: Life without challenges was going to be a boring life. I am seeing myself a blessed person for seeing how people can actually compromise the ideal of oneness and personalize national interest.

I will not say I have gone through challenges. I would rather say I have gone through a mammoth training. I am very much happier for those who are thinking they are plotting Ngurare for serious challenges because I have actually learnt something they haven't learnt.

Question: Do you have any regrets as SPYL Secretary? If yes, what are they?

Answer: Unemployment, disease and ignorance still a growing problem.

Question: What is the biggest problem that you see engulfing Namibia, something that causes deep-seated bitterness in your heart, something that causes you sleepless nights?

Answer: The biggest problem engulfing Namibia in my view is the lack of ideological clarity. The lack of it produces greed and other retrogressive tendencies.

Further, the challenges of poverty, hunger, unemployment remain unaddressed because we are not focused, in unison, to wage the struggle for economic emancipation. Instead, a selected few are allowed to monopolize the resources of the country amongst themselves as if Namibia is a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. This is the potential time-bomb that causes me sleepless nights.

Question: You have been told off at times as young, too young to make some of the statements you have made. What is your take on that?

Answer: Statements made in the interest of the people do not need age. Common sense is the engine that ignites what is and how best to address the wishes and aspirations of the masses through the ideals of Solidarity, Freedom and Justice.

Question: How would you want to be remembered as SPYL Secretary?

Answer: People do not beg to be remembered, but the GOOD that they have done to the people in the community keep their names to be remembered. So it is up to the Namibian people to remember that once upon a time there was this and that. The magic to this compels us to remain humble, collected and a committed servant of the masses.

Question: What is the way forward now?

Answer: To remain patriotically stubborn in order to popularise the ideals of Solidarity with the downtrodden, Freedom for the oppressed, and Social Justice for the disadvantaged. We thus call upon all young people, especially SPYL members to deliver victory for SWAPO Party.

We further call on all those going to Parliament, especially the youthful ones to make sure that the three pillars of SPYL become the new anthem of Parliament.

Namibia must become a country that takes radical but achievable decisions, especially on land. On the Party level, the way forward is the implementation of the Congress decision on the Party School.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura