President Geingob's Remarks at the 6th Congress of the SWAPO Party Youth League
August 24, 2017
Director of Ceremonies; Comrade Nangolo Mbumba, Secretary General of the SWAPO Party; Members of the Politburo and Central Committee of the SWAPO Party; Comrade Veikko Nekundi, Secretary of the SWAPO Party Youth League;
Members of the NEC and Central Committee of SPYL; Ministers and Deputy Ministers; Leaders of the SWAPO Party Elders' Council, SWAPO Party Women's Council and National Union of Namibian Workers; Esteemed Members of Diplomatic Corps; Esteemed Captains of Industry; Esteemed Special Invited Guests of SPYL; Esteemed Namibian Artists; Delegates of 6th SPYL Congress; Members of the Media; Comrades and friends;
The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you. The world belongs to you. Let us ponder these powerful words of Mao Zedong, as we prepare to commence this important gathering of youthful minds. Young people, Namibia's hope is placed in you. The world belongs to you. The future of our country belongs to you.
It is an honour to join you this morning in Katima Mulilo, to mark the opening of this 6th Congress of the SWAPO Party Youth League. Throughout its illustrious history, the SWAPO Party has been supported by three powerful pillars - the workers, women and the youth. This 6th Congress therefore allows us to take stock of matters that concern this integral wing of our Party. The SWAPO Party Youth League remains an active, revolutionary and militant transmission belt of SWAPO Party ideologies, policies and programmes. The SWAPO Party legacy was borne from the radical and progressive ideas of young Namibians 57 years ago and you, dear comrades, are the custodians of this rich legacy.
Back then, young Namibians established a Party with a full mandate to unite all Namibians, and to cultivate the spirit of nationalism within them, in order to fight the common enemy as a united people. Today, Namibians continue to face challenges although they may be different to those faced 57 years ago. However, these challenges threaten the future of our country. These challenges of structural poverty, unemployment and inequality constitute the second phase of our struggle. These challenge require fighters with different skills sets and well managed and intentional succession is required to ensure this skills set is properly represented. You, the youth, must be at the forefront of exploring and promoting ideas and policies that are both radical and sustainable.
Many of you have heard of the discourse taking place at African Union Level on the demographic dividend in Africa. There is a general consensus from Cape to Cairo from Nairobi to Lagos, that investment in our youth will harness the full potential of our young people by enhancing their health, well-being and educational attainment. Tomorrow belongs to our young people and if we fail to tap into the immense potential of the youth, we will fail to capitalize on the generational gift for our continent. It is with this understanding in mind that we have included Youth Enterprise Development as one of the Sub-Pillars within the pillar of Economic Advancement, which is the second pillar of our Harambee Prosperity Plan. The Harambee Prosperity Plan is meant to expedite and accelerate the implementation of our National Development Plans and the broader Vision 2030. SWAPO has made tremendous progress in 27 years, establishing a robust Governance Architecture, as well as a stable Macro Economic Architecture within Namibia.
Our Governance Architecture has brought about many freedoms that Namibians did not enjoy before independence but which our youth of today enjoy and hold dear. Today, in Namibia we have freedom of movement and freedom of expression. However, we should not forget the fact that one person's freedom ends where another person's begins. We should therefore be mindful that we do not pursue our freedom at the expense of the freedom of our brothers and sisters. Despite the Governance Architecture and Macroeconomic fundamentals that have been put in place, we realize that the next phase of our struggle will involve the establishment of sound socioeconomic fundamentals. In order for this to be possible, we need to combat the debilitating poverty and unemployment that continues to plague our people, mostly our youth.
Through our HPP initiatives, we aim to reverse this negative trend by identifying areas which will exploit and harness the human resource capacity presented by our youth to stimulate employment creation and SME driven economic growth. This will be done through various strategies such as the drafting of a Youth Entrepreneurship Policy, Development of Project Proposals for Regional Businesses and supporting of SME Development to name a few. The HPP, NDP and Vision 2030 are SWAPO Party policies. I therefore encourage our youths to work hard to ensure that the objectives of these policies are achieved for the benefit of all Namibians. Our youth should become the harbingers of prosperity by being innovative, forward thinking and at the cutting edge of the information age. We cannot have a situation where our youth regress, they must only progress. Obviously, in order for us to achieve our dreams, we must learn to withstand and overcome challenges which we face on the path towards success.
These past several months have not been easy for Namibia economically. Our economy has been buffeted by severe headwinds. It has wobbled but is now steadying itself. Commodity price depreciation, exchange rate fluctuations and disappointing SACU revenue receipts have all contributed to these adverse conditions, but it has been said that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Therefore, the economic headwinds that we have experienced have allowed us to "trim the fat" by identifying areas where we can curb excess expenditure.
Government has been able to save more than N$ 3 billion due to the austerity measures implemented over the past several months. This was not done due to the advice of Moody's or Fitch but due to our own initiatives. Already we are witnessing a positive growth in Gross Domestic Product and we are confident that by next year, our economy will be trending positively again. Comrades, SWAPO has always espoused democratic principles and contestation is part and parcel of the internal democratic dynamics of the SWAPO Party. It is understandable that during contestation, factions develop because people identify with a candidate whom they feel best 11 represents the SWAPO Party ideology. However, those who are elected to leadership positions should become leaders for all and those who contested should also show leadership by supporting those elected.
We must always uphold the Party principles. SWAPO is and will always be progressive in its approach and political philosophy. Therefore no cadre of SWAPO should ever engage in the retrogressive practices of tribal and factional politics. It is therefore troubling to see youth resorting to tribalism since us in SWAPO have always been against and agitated by:
Apartheid; colonialism; neo-colonialism and imperialism
Lack of patriotism
I am aware that sometimes the exuberance of youth drives us to pursue instant success. However, as the famous Swahili proverb says Haraka, Haraka, Haina Baraka. Hurry, hurry has no blessings. Therefore, it is important to do a given assignment well and not to hurry for the sake of completing it. Young people have always been part and parcel of the SWAPO Party leadership fold and will always be promoted where they show promise. SWAPO has always reinvented itself by promoting young people. SWAPO has always depended on the youth be it at political or military level. Some of us joined SWAPO when we were 20yrs old before moving on to firmer positions later on in our careers. There is a misconception that there is no upward mobility in SWAPO but the statistics prove otherwise.
The representation of women and youth as well as demographic diversity has been consistent and is statistically measurable. The strongest indicator is that there are only two members of the original Cabinet who remain in Cabinet and less than five from the original Cabinet. Youth leaders who show potential and promise are filtered through the system by being given exposure as Members of Parliament or as Deputy Minsters. We have young Deputy Ministers like Peya Mushelenga, Juliet Kavetuna, Natangwe Ithete and Kornelia Shilunga to name a few. Some others had been promoted to full Ministerial positions. e. g. Pohamba Shifeta, Albert Kawana, Pendukeni Ithana, Netumbo Ndaitwah. They were once all Deputy Ministers and moved on to become Ministers.
The SWAPO PARTY Youth League has always been an embryo through which the young political revolutionaries are groomed. This is where the young people's political teeth are sharpened. Today we have many young and capable Comrades who are following in the footsteps of their predecessors to become the leaders of tomorrow. I therefore encourage our youths to forge ahead. The sky is the limit for you. May you continue to be the torch bearers of the SWAPO Party ideals. Continue to counter reactionary practices locally, regionally and internationally. Issues such as the plight of the people of Palestine and the Saharawi Republic should be addressed by our revolutionary youth. Issues of poverty and unemployment should be tackled by our youth. Most importantly, issues of nation building are also inherited by the youth and I would like to stop and ask you to reflect whether we remain genuinely on the course of nation building. I would like for the outcomes of the 6th SWAPO Party Youth League Congress to define the development trajectory of our country for the next several years. To conclude I would like to quote Huey P Newton who said, "The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young always inherit the revolution." Young cadres, you have inherited a revolution started 57 years ago. It is now in your hands. It is through your hands that Namibia will defeat poverty. It is through your hands that Namibia will attain economic development. It is through your hands that we will triumph in the second phase of the struggle and it is through your hands that the SWAPO Party Legacy will continue. Long live the SWAPO Party, Long live the SWAPO Party Youth League, SWAPO, United! SWAPO, Victorious! NOW, Hard Work! I thank you.