Former Swapo Party Youth League Secretary, Elijah Ngurare, lambasted public leaders who do not want to be held accountable, criticised the country’s skewed distribution of wealth and also called on the country’s youth to unite. He told the youth in attendance at the Affirmative Repositioning’s weekly Consciousness Dialogue that they need to unite and get involved in the management of the affairs of the country. At the same time, he urged the elders to allow the youth to question decisions related to the distribution of wealth in the country if it does not benefit them. Ngurare was speaking on ‘Intergenerational Politics and the Dream of Sustainable Development in Namibia’.
Dubbed as the ideological godfather of AR by Swapo’s legal team during the recent Swapo 4 Case, he said in most African countries, including Namibia, the term sustainable development has become fashionable and reflected in most speeches and government documents. He said there was no unanimity, however, on the application of principles of sustainable development particularly intergenerational equity. Against this purview and also in the knowledge that in Africa it is a known fact that political leadership is the occupation of the old, who maintain a firm grip on resources of most African countries. While young people might complain of the long period the elders stay in power, they should appreciate the fact that it is the same people who made provision for them to go to school and get educated. So as such, he pointed out, elders should not be shocked when the educated young people start asking questions about the wealth of the country and how it is being distributed.
“When people ask questions, young people are referenced to be problems. You hear that AR is the problem; you hear that they have no manners or you are being anti-government. But the irony is, the same people making these statements run when these German foundations invite them to Europe. They don’t even question them a bit but they question their children. Article 100 of the Namibian Constitution says that the resources of this country belong to the state and the state is us,” he pointed out. He added: “We have all these sounding minerals. And I call them such because these are things many of you only hear about. They are protected in such a way that you will not see them. Now if you are a shareholder of this wealth, when are you going to become a beneficiary of this wealth? This question is at the core of sustainable development.”
He urged young people to visit the mines ministry and ask for documents with the Namibian map that is defined by Exclusive Prospecting Licences. “If you have not seen this map, go [and] see it at the ministry. It is a map that will show you which part of Namibia is allocated to who and who. And you will be shocked. You will see that all of it is occupied. That map is gone and it is a map that defines the wealth of the country. You might cry when you see it. If you look at it and study it, you begin to realise that when we speak about the dream of sustainable development, some of you who wish to make future Namibians, they will actually have nothing to call theirs in respect of that map,” said Ngurare, who is often accused of being part of a group trying to make the country ungovernable.
Ngurare added: “So if we know this, is it a sin to speak against it? If you are appointed to serve in a public office you must remain mindful that it is not your household and therefore accountability will be expected of you. So if we ask you, colleague – what you are doing is corruption, do not say we don’t have manners. It is not your house.” Ngurare said it is evident that resources in the country are skewly distributed and therefore it is only right that everyone wants a share. He is of the opinion that the distribution of wealth is skewed and defined by greed and corruption. “When you say that you are against peace and stability. You have heard of so many projects; the new parliament, phosphate, tobacco – are they not against peace and stability? This is not about politics but about the stomach. There is no one who is immune to feeling hungry – even the assets.”
Inequality continues to hamper economic growth in Namibia seeing that a vast majority of the population do not form part of the mainstream economy. The situation has led to the mushrooming of informal settlements in urban areas that often lack basic services such as water and sanitation. Ngurare also spoke against the trending tradition of young people fighting each other just because of different opinions. He said it is because of such that young people will not make any impact, saying there is a need to unite. Answering the question of what is then to be done, Ngurare encouraged the youth to get involved and never agree to be pushed away. “Get involved. Get counted and remain counted. And go to the people. Listen, respect the people. Because you would not have been who you are if not for the people. Remain a patriot in the interest of the people and the country. If you choose to be a bubblegum, just remember, when the sweetness is out, you will be spat out,” he said.