…as myriad of challenges plague student movement
Outgoing Namibia National Student Organization (Nanso) president, Wilhelem Wilhelem, says the current leadership of the student body is ready to step down after their two-year term ended on 1 March 2017.
Speaking at the Nanso General Student Council(GSC) at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic High School, Döbra, held recently, the outgoing Nanso president heaped praise on his team saying they leave behind a “better” positioned organisation than they inherited back in 2011.
The Nanso GSC took place under the banner ‘Amalgamating to defend our right to free quality education’ to discuss issues affecting the progress of the organisation.
“This general council is very important in mapping the way forward for the organisation, as we have highlighted, we have served our term and have graduated from student leadership.
“We want to give the organisation to the young commanders to take over, I have to congratulate my leadership, they have done a good job in terms of having regional representation,” said a clearly elated Wilhelem.
Despite taking charge of the organisation under “very difficult circumstances”, Wilhelem noted that Nanso has been able to “groom” leaders and is more than ready to handover the baton to the next generation of student leaders.
“We did what we could, we started off under difficult conditions, from being suspended to affiliates going to courts, but there are things that we will always be proud of as leadership.
“One of those things is the fact that we were able to groom our succesors and we are ready to step down, all of us, the president, secretary general; we are saying we have done our part and it is up to the next leadership to take over,” noted Wilhelem said.
The outgoing Nanso leadership that mostly comprises of law graduates said it has “transformed” the organisation and “leaves behind a stronger organisation, with its presence felt in all 121 constituencies and 14 regions of Namibia.”
“Nanso must be shaped in a different direction now, if you come in Nanso and leave the same way as you came, then something is wrong with you.
We have groomed leaders at various levels, the Nanso that we found in 2011 is different from the Nanso that we have today, our budget is now read in the National Assembly, so the future is bright,” concluded Wilhelem.
Back in 2015, the Nanso congress at which Wilhelem emerged victorious was marred by dirty politics and chaos – a dark past the outgoing student leaders have warned against.
According to Wilhelem, the outgoing crop of Nanso leaders, which includes Dimbulukeni Nauyoma (secretary general), Maitjituavi Kavetu (vice-president) and Vincent Shimutwikeni, among others, will not meddle in the election of the incoming leadership but will “only provide” guidance.
“We are not going to get involved on who must be president or who must be SG, we are just going to provide guidance, as regional chairs and regional delegates who are going to congress, the ball is in your hands.
“I would like to advice you (incoming leadership) to avoid what happened at the 2015 congress because you will have one year solving in-house issues instead of working,” warned Wilhelem.
At the 2015 congress, Wilhelem was pitted against the then favourite Sharonice Busch, National Youth Council (NYC) Chairperson Mandela Kapere and the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL).
On the other hand, Wilhelem was backed by Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement in what was seen as a battle between SPYL, NYC and the then newly formed youth group, AR at the time.
However, Wilhelem came out as victor in the highly contested battle after he swept the majority of the votes at the congress.
This year’s congress is expected to be no different, with long-time friends and members Nanso’s National Executive Committee Emma Teofelus and Ester Simon expected to battle it out for the top position.
Another name being mentioned is that of the long-serving Student Representative Council president at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, Oscar Mwandingi. Mwandingi who is likely to vie for the position of secretary general.
The date for the much-awaited congress is yet to be announced but this paper has been reliably informed that it is likely to take place in April at St Joseph’s Döbra, where Nanso was founded back in 1984.
The 2017 General Students Council said Nanso has been hit by serious regional restructuring concerns, leadership deficit and inadequate finances as it prepares for congress in May.
“GSC agreed that only regions with serious leadership deficits will be restructured on the basis of the financial inability for all regions to be restructured and also for the purpose of leadership transition of Nanso.
“The identified regions that will be restructured are Erongo, Hardap, //Karas, Kunene, Ohangwena, and Omaheke,” reads the report.
Moreover, Nauyoma pointed out the successes and challenges that the organisation faced during the period 2016-17. Among its achievements, according to Nauyoma, Nanso spearheaded the successful “#Varsity Lockdown”, which saw thousands of students at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) register for the 2016 academic year despite owing the institution.
Others include the establishment of the Student Representative Council Forum and an increased number of Nanso members on various boards.
Kavetu serves on the board of directors at the Namibia National Commission on Science and Technology while finance secretary Herman Rutz is on the Heritage Council.
On the other hand, the challenges facing Nanso include lack of membership database, organisational awareness, communication, regional structures and the saga involving students, the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund and Nammic.
“The meeting agreed that an enquiry must be made into the Nammic card charges and the National Executive Committee work with the NUST SRC leadership on the issue of high charges,” reads the report.
The meeting further tasked Wilhelem and Kavetu to write an urgent letter to the leadership of NSFAF to address the Nammic-NSFAF matter.
On reginal reports, Nanso highlighted the improvement of Khomas region in the 2016 Junior Secondary Certificate Examinations as one of its key successes. According to the report, Khomas region had well-structured and successful programmes during the period under review.
However, the Khomas regional leadership experienced a shortage of funds from the NEC.
In Oshikoto region, the REC leadership managed to set up four branches in Tsumeb and organised a task force. However, student leaders from the region lamented the unavailability of an organisational stamp and said the geographic location has made it “very hard to set up branches”.
Furthermore, the Hardap student leadership is still divided by the events which transpired at the 2015 congress.
Other challenges in the southern region include the absence of an organisational building, support from NEC and lack of access to information about Nanso particularly for new members.
In addition, Nanso leadership in the Kavango East region received support from the education and youth ministries in terms of transport for its activities.
Like in the Hardap region, there is no Nanso office in Kavango East, while a lack of access to organisational information and a perception that the student body is a “political party” were some of the challenges the region faces.
In contrast, Kavango West faces a major hiccup in terms of transportation for Nanso activities and there is a need to hold teachers accountable.
“Suggestions are that assigned NEC members have to visit the region at least twice a year,” reads the report.
Furthermore, the meeting found that the Ohangwena Region has a “leadership vacuum and needs serious restructuring” as there is “no REC in place, no programmes and finances”.