Newly appointed Minister of Sport, Youth and National Services Erastus Uutoni has registered his disappointment over government youth facilities that are underutilized.
Uutoni, during a familiarization visit to National Youth Service (NYS) Training Centre at Rietfontein, said he observed standing structures sheltering dust instead of being utilized to employ young people and ultimately generate income.
“I went to Rietfontein and I was disappointed to see some of the abandoned facilities. We have a shelter that we can use for milking but it is not being utilized. We have a poultry section that we could fully utilize to generate income but it is not being used to its full potential,” said Uutoni.
The minister added that the underutilized facilities could be used to feed the country and provide employment to the country.
“A fully-fledged poultry project could feed our hospitals, school and the nation at large. We can sell the cultivated hay to farmers in regions that are prone to drought,” said a disappointed Uutoni.
The NYS, which has equally felt the pains of budget cuts since last year has since its inception been the implementing agency for the ministry. Uutoni shared the same sentiments of the underfunding but called for proper planning and the need to tap into innovative ways that will benefit young people.
Uutoni also visited the NYS centre at Berg Aukas where only a small portion of the land is being utilized.
“This is land that can feed the country. If we do not have the means to utilize the land, why don’t we invite those who can do it for us and we both win? Our budget has been cut severely so we need to be generating money to compliment the little we get from government,” said Uutoni.
South left out
The ministry, in the proposed capital projects for the 2018/19 financial term, plans to construct sport complexes in Outapi and Eenhana.
In addition, the ministry will be constructing Multi-purpose Youth Resource Centers in Nkurenkuru, Otjiwarongo while constructing and upgrading the Frans Dimbare Youth Centre phase 8.
With the youth in these regions, who seem to always receive preferential treatment when it comes to youth development projects, Uutoni states that he is not oblivious to claims that the allocation of resources lacks diversity when it comes to the northern and southern sides of the country.
Uutoni said the youth in the South should be patient as the ministry cannot do everything at once. He backed his stance saying the proposed projects were advised by the population and demands in “these newly proclaimed towns.
We assessed the situation and decided to go for areas that are most in need.
The youth in most of these towns have nothing because these are newly proclaimed towns. Also, the population in these areas is rising and hence the need.
It does not however mean that we are only going to focus on these areas. We are looking at priority areas and we will most definitely move to other towns including the South. We must also understand we do not have the funds to do everything in one day so the youth in the south must just be patient. It pays off,” said Uutoni while maintaining that youth development and empowerment is pivotal.
North over south
Former Swapo parliamentarian Bernadus Swartbooi was disappointed in the proposed projects from the ministry pointing out how the ‘south’ has never been a priority to the SWAPO party.
Swartbooi has been vocal on how the South is underdeveloped despite its contribution the public purse.
“The resources of this country are in the south but they are only here to benefit the north. But it is nothing strange under the leadership of Geingob. For Uutoni to reason that it is the numbers that informed their projects demonstrates the quality of leadership in the government,” said Swartbooi.
The Landless People’s Movement leader said the ministry has been a joke over the years and young people are in destitute more today like there is no ministry.
“We build for a nation and not a specific population.”
“By the way, building facilities which our people do not know how to maintain in the first place does not help sport or change the lives of the youth.
How many young people did the ministry finance for skills development? I expect us to engage sport diplomacy and not build stadiums and think we are changing lives,” he said. The ministry has an intellectual fatigue, he said.
“I expect sport veterans such as Frank Fredericks to run the ministry and not politicians who turn the institution into a political ground. The fact that the ministry announces that they are prioritizing on population tells you a lot. What is he [Uutoni] telling the youth outside these towns?” queried Swartbooi.