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The Role of the Youth in the Economic Revolution: SPYL PERSPECTIVE

The most influential socialist thinker to emerge in the 19th century Karl Marx made the point that in order to understand society is that we must appreciate the fact and fix it firmly in our minds that we are dealing with a class society. In the current dispensation the capitalists are the dominant class. Therefore the state or other forms of social organization are conditioned by this one fact of the supremacy.

Over a number of times many among the youth, including me personally, have felt a particular need to put in perspective the role of the youth in the modern day body politics or what we refer to as the economic revolution. The inability or unwillingness to engage on this issue constitutes a failure of intellectual duty. Those of us who claim to be revolutionaries obviously cannot proceed in this manner. Indeed we must resist all attempts to persuade us that our future lies in the hands of others. The task is of transforming the current society from the status of objects of history to that of masters of history. We must, by liberating ourselves, make our own history.

This create the necessity to plan and therefore requires the ability to measure cause and effect; the necessity to strike in correct directions and hence the requirement to distinguish between essence and phenomenon.

The recently released census by the Namibia Statistics Agency under the uncompromising leadership of Cde Dr John Steytler estimates that about 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30 years in relation to 10 percent of the total population being over 50 years. Further to this the unemployment rate remains the highest among the youth with 56 per cent for the age category 15-19 years, and 49 per cent for the age category 20-24years.

The unemployment rate for the population in the age category 50 to 54 years is only 13 per cent. Youth unemployment is facing the same crises in the global economy as well. In the UK young people aged 16 - 24 accounts for about 40% of all unemployed. In Spain more than 40% of young people are unemployed. In France the rate is more than 20%, and in the US it's 21%. This doesn't include those youth that stopped looking for work. Widespread youth unemployment is one facet of a deeper failure. The global economy, financial crises, governments, healthcare, the media and institutions for solving global problems like the UN are all struggling. It is young people who are bearing the impact of these failures.

Today's society is failing to deliver on its promise to young people and there are continued delusions that believe the young will simply continue to be impassive and submissive to the status quo. History tells us that the youth has been at the forefront of all revolutions to date, it is biological.

In 1968 student sit-ins challenged the Charles de Gaulle government and the capitalist system which culminated in a two-week general strike involving more than 11 million workers.

Youth played a key role in the so-called Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia that same year. In West Germany, the student movement gained momentum in the late 60s. In the US, youth radicalization began with the civil rights movement and extended into movements for women's rights and other issues.

In South Africa the youth of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Anton Lambede, Mxolisi Majombozi, Oliver Tambo and others gave the ANC new energy through methods which eventually brought down the colonial apartheid regime. Chief Hosea Kutako was a youth when he participated on the anti colonial war of 1904 as one of the leading commanders.

It was the youth that led from the front at the campaign against the forced removal of inhabitants of Windhoek's Old Location to Katutura. Comrade President Sam Nujoma was a youth when he petitioned the Namibian occupancy by the white apartheid regime to the United Nations. The youth of SWAPO was at the forefront of the Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia under the tutelage of Major General Martin Shali. It was the very same youth that led to the political freedom of the motherland.

Subsequently the youth of today in Namibia has an important role to play in the economic revolution to improve the lives of our people. The Swapo Party Youth League remains a critical voice of the voiceless and is the only organization that has both the will and ability to lead the economic struggle to its logical conclusion. The role of the youth needs to be real and preserved, nor fragile or reversible.

A rallying call is then made that the role of the current youth of Namibia takes root as the gains will be beyond measure. We are confident that the heritage bestowed upon the current Swapo Party Youth League will live and resound in our ears, souls and minds for all time.

Salomo Hei
Personal Assistant to the Secretary of Economic Affairs SPYL


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura