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We strive for economic revolution

By Dr Elijah Ngurare

This historic 5th Congress of SWAPO Party Youth League, SPYL, is being held under the theme "SPYL In Pursuit of Namibia's Technological and Economic Revolution". This is the moment we have been waiting for. We must therefore be proud that we are here. As we start our deliberations, our clarion call is youth economic empowerment.

Our future lies in our hands. Our voice must not only be heard. It must be part of the governing process that is why today there are many youthful leaders in the government as Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, MPs, Councillors, CEOs, Soldiers, Police Officers etc, and we shall continue to demand more especially ambassadors.

We must be participants, not just spectators, in our economic development. Namibia is for us. Vision 2030 dictates that we see our faces there as the youth. NDP4 enjoins us to look at ourselves as a happy nation. We must have the will to make ourselves happy with the resources Namibia possesses.

This is our country. We neither begged to be born here, nor did we choose to be born at our age. We were born at our time, and at our time, we should define ourselves. On this one, we owe nobody an apology. We were neither late, nor too early. On this one, too, we are inspired by our founding fathers and mothers. They paved the way for us to follow. They were never cowards to face the challenges during their tour of duty. They, too, were neither late, nor too early. They came at their time and heroically defined themselves as such.

They stood up to the occasion on their terms. They never wavered. History placed a heavy responsibility on their shoulders at their age, young as they were. Not only did they understand that responsibility, they defined it on their terms and at their age.

Collectively, they succeeded. That success is our free and independent country, the Republic of Namibia. We have icons whose examples we emulate. One of those icons is here. I am talking about President Hifikepunye Pohamba. President Pohamba was publicly flogged for the ideals he espoused and cherished as a young man.

Such flogging did not cause him to waver. He stood up and raised his voice and said enough was enough. President Pohamba was 25 years old when he was flogged in public. He was brave enough, and perhaps stubborn, and rose to the occasion. We emulate his bravery, and proudly so.

Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma, formed the Owambo People's Organization, OPO, when he was 30 years old. He rose to the occasion and stood his ground. OPO turned into SWAPO in 1960. Dr Nujoma defined his place in history at that age. Throughout his life, and young as he was, he was never apologetic. Today, we are a free country because of the Nujomas and the Pohambas. They did their best then. They are doing their best today. We are proud of them. In them, we find no cowardice. In them, too, we see our future. That is why we are a proud nation. Theirs was political independence.

They sacrificed their youthful age for that objective. On 21st March 1990, Founding President, Dr Nujoma, set the tone for the youth, born then, and yet to be born thereafter. The born-frees make up the largest percentage of this congress. His directive was loud and clear.

He said: "This is the day for which tens of thousands of Namibian patriots laid down their lives, shed their precious blood, suffered imprisonment and a difficult life in exile. Today, our hearts are filled with great joy and jubilation because our deepest and longest yearning has been realized... Africa's last colony is, from this hour, liberated."

As the youth, our historic responsibility is economic independence. That is our sacred responsibility, passed on to us by our political freedom fighters. On that one, we should not compromise. It is our future that we are defining. We do not need anyone to define it for us. Failure to do so, means that we are letting down the Nujomas, the Pohambas and others. They had our future at heart in the 1960s. They did not fight for themselves. They fought for us. They sacrificed everything they had for us to be what we are today. We should, as a matter of principle, have the future of succeeding generations at heart as well.

Our struggle today is about bread and butter issues. When you, Cde President, was elected as SWAPO Party Vice President in 2002, your acceptance speech was loud and clear. You said and I quote: "What is at stake is the future of more than 1,8 million Namibians. Their fate lies in our hands, as leaders in the Party and in the Government. We should, therefore, rise above petty differences and show our people out there that we are worth their trust and confidence. Economic independence is the way forward."

SWAPO Party Youth League, SPYL, as the transmission belt of the SWAPO Party, is busy translating that directive into action. We want economic independence. We must define our future on our terms. We have enough God-given resources in this country to make every Namibian happy. Making every Namibian happy is not a luxury. It is a right. We know what belongs to us. What belongs to us is ours, and is not negotiable.

We have no courage to fight for what is not ours. What is ours, we know. In our fight for economic independence, we need no one from London or Washington to tell us what is best for us. That is not their business. We are only defining ourselves within the context of the natural resources we have in this country. Those resources were meant for us. It is therefore not a crime to fight for economic independence. We demand, not ask for, economic empowerment. Our people in rural areas are crying for help. They know we have the resources to make their living conditions better. They know that Namibia has enough resources to make a difference in their lives.

They look up to us to make that difference. They are simple in poverty. They are also great in happiness. All they need is for us to create opportunities for them to be happy. We have the resources to make them happy. That is what we, as SPYL, have set ourselves to achieve. We will fight for economic independence. There will be no let up in that fight.

As delegates will see in our Central Committee Report over the past five years, we have raised our voice for youth empowerment, rural development, economic empowerment and social upliftment. We have never been found wanting in this regard. We might have stepped on some sensitive toes. But on our rights, we cannot compromise. We know what belongs to us, and what does not.

SPYL is a proud wing of the SWAPO Party. It is that pride that has brought us here today. We are here to look at what we have achieved over the past five years, examining our failures and successes, as honestly and humanely possible as we can. We have faced challenges, some of which might have seemed insurmountable.

In all those challenges, our all-weather friends have been the Constitution of SWAPO Party and that of SPYL. We have never deviated from those guiding documents. They remain our ray of hope. Individuals come and go, but those documents will be there to define SWAPO Party leaders and members. Those documents see no tribe or race. They see Namibians.

Cde President, in your acceptance speech in 2002, you said and I quote: "Let us work for the unity, development and justice of our people. We have a sacred duty to make SWAPO Party stronger and united. For, in that unity lies the jubilation of Namibia's succeeding generations." There were times when nobody wanted to be associated with SPYL after the AVID Saga.

There were misunderstandings and misconceptions. But in spite of all those challenges, SPYL survived. Here we are, singing and chanting our brave slogans. We have made it. We will make it. Youth Empowerment has remained our gospel. Politainment, Africa-China Young Leaders Forum, SPYL Policy Workshop, 12 May Movement are but a few highlights of our past five years.

SPYL annual budget has never gone beyond N$500,000 and with so much to do, including the actualization of Politainment, we could not have succeeded if it was not for the support we had received from the friends of SPYL. I therefore wish to thank all those who have assisted to sponsor our activities through Cde Lucia Iipumbu and Cde Veikko Nekundi departments of Finance and Economics respectively. It is true that being full time at SWAPO Party Headquarters is economically challenging but I am here and thanks to those comrades who did not forget those of us in the full time employment of the Party.

I thank the Party and government for your open door policy towards SPYL. The President, Prime Minister, SG, Cde Richard Kamwi, Cde Abraham Iyambo, Cde Joel Kaapanda, Cde Utoni Nujoma, Cde Peter Iilonga, Cde Albert Kawana, Cde Tom Alweendo, Cde Isak Katali, Cde Rosalia Nghidinwa, Cde John Mutorwa, Cde. Marco Hausiku, Cde Theo-Ben Gurirab, Cde Asser Kapere and many more, you have remained our inspiration. From this congress, we should demand jobs and economic empowerment.

We welcome TIPEEG. We welcome NDP4. But we will be happier to welcome results. Money allocated for TIPEEG projects should never ever again go back to the Treasury. That money must be spent. It is our right to make that demand. The youth are the highest affected section of our population when it comes to unemployment.

Our demand should be understood in this context. This context should determine the scale of our discussions over the next three days. At the end of the day, SPYL should win. When SPYL wins, SWAPO Party wins. Therein lies our celebration as SWAPO Party leaders and members. The celebration must not only be Windhoek based but it must be transmitted to all corners and households of our Republic.

That is why our trumpet of hope remains the clarion call of our time, namely economic empowerment from Okangwati to Aroab; from Aroab to Okatana; from Okatana to Sibbinda in all 107 Constituencies and 13 Regions, the young lions of SWAPO Party must and shall fearlessly roar for Youth Empowerment, Rural Development and Genuine Economic Empowerment. I thank you.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura