The new African Union Commission’s (AYC) Commissioner for African Diaspora and External Affairs, Job Amupanda, this week accentuated his priorities as he settles into his new seat.
He has made clear his priorities and warned about non-tolerance of political hangover and the need to change the current African narrative, which he says is not appealing to those in the Diaspora.
Amupanda said: “One of my priorities is to ensure that we consolidate the radical agenda on the continent. At the moment, most of the AYC members are activists in their own rights, we have activists from Burkina Faso who played a key role to remove President Blaise Compaore, activists from Gambia who ensured that [Yahya] Jammeh is removed to allow peace in those respective nations.
“Take, for example, the youth of The Gambia who attended the General Assembly. Some of them just came from prison; they were jailed by Jammeh for things such as Facebook posts. They are part of heroic youth who stood up against dictator Jammeh leading to his removal. These activists will not find space in the Pan African Youth Union (PYU) that deals with youth councils and not individual youth organizations.
“In a case like this, youth councils would not take a radical position because they will be called to order by governments that control them. AYC thus provides love, care and compassion to the youth and youth organizations such as AR. But AYC is clear that it is not fighting PYU and it [is] committed to work with anyone to serve the youth of Africa including PYU,” said Amupanda.
He also stressed the need for the African narrative to be changed in order to lure those living in the Diaspora.
“We have people like [Didier] Drogba who have a lot of money, to lure them to the continent we need to revive the Marcus Garvey ways of thinking to ensure that our people choose Africa first,” he said.
He also emphasized the importance of an annual African Diaspora conference, a platform that can be used to share ideas and best practices.
“Currently, the blacks in the Diaspora are not keen on returning to Africa because they feel the youth on the continent are condoning the corruption and nepotism carried out by the elders. We need to change this narrative,” he said.
Amupanda also highlighted the need to create a Diaspora research network.
Global statistics indicate that by the year 2100 the majority of young people will be living in Africa, statistic which Amupanda says should not be taken lightly.
“We must not rest on our laurels, we must prepare ourselves because the productive forces will be in Africa,” he said.
And, of course, an interview without the land topic would certainly not be an Amupanda interview.
“Most of us who gathered at the AYC General Assembly in Addis Ababa could resonate on the issue of land because it is a common struggle across the continent for young people. In other countries, governments are walking the talk by providing affordable land to the youth while ours [Namibia] continues to talk but nothing changes,” he said.
Amupanda also touched on the issue of young people competing for top positions.
“This thing of saying people are too young to run for positions must come to an end. If we say civil servants must retire at 60, it means we are admitting that after that age one is too old to work at an optimum level, so why does this not apply to politics? Why do we still have a situation, like in Namibia, where the average age of a politician is 70?” questioned Amupanda.
He also said the Commission will work hard to ensure that it mobilises its own resources so that it can have the capacity to function independently and not depend governments for funds.
“We do not want an arrangement of patronage where we will not be able to speak up, especially against those who fund us,” he said.