Swapo Party Youth League secretary Ephraim Nekongo was incandescent at the state of affairs in government and demanded improvement in the treatment of the citizenry, even going as far as calling for non-performing ministers to be shown the door.
Nekongo took over the youth league at a time when it was at crossroads, and it was highly expected that he will extend the olive branch, forge unity and turn the fortunes of SPYL around so that it could transcend into an issue-based transmission belt instead of one merely fixated on personality fights.
When Elijah Ngurare was axed as SPYL secretary in 2015, a fierce succession battle ensued between the two factions that were spearheaded by Ngurare and his former lieutenant Veikko Nekundi.
It was from Windhoek that Nekundi lobbied for Nekongo to head the SPYL, criss-crossing the country with his close allies to sell Nekongo to the youth league enthusiasts.
The extremely close race was settled and Nekundi’s faction emerged victorious.
So far his tenure has been described by many as lacklustre, with antagonists saying the performance of SPYL under his helm has so far failed to reignite confidence that once reached fever pitch when SPYL continuously took government on over issues affecting the populace.
What is significant is the manner in which Nekongo used the youth league to establish a national profile through controversial pronouncements, even calling for non-performing ministers and civil servants to be fired, but all eyes are on him to see if he will turn into a firebrand SPYL leader like previous SPYL leaders such as Ngurare, Paulus Kapia, Alec Boois, Ignatius Shixwameni, Clinton Swartbooi, Henny Seibeb and the Job Amupanda’s.
All these individuals had a reputation as motor-mouths, loose cannons, and purveyors of politically incorrect gaffes that exposed the shortcomings of the Swapo-led government. Barely a day went by without pronouncing themselves on one issue or another.
Now mid-way through his term, Nekongo is showing signs that he is ready to rise to prominence when he held a press conference where he blasted government over its performance, even saying that government has developed a tendency of being reactionary instead of being proactive on issues.
Nekongo surprised all and sundry at this week’s press conference which was convened to share the outcomes of the SPYL CC meeting held in Eenhana last weekend.
He gave examples of NBC and the Hosea Kutako International Airport. “We knew NBC had labour issues, but we waited for the land conference and for people to go on strike before acting. Hosea Kutako is the same, now that the airport is facing a downgrade, money is available to rectify the situation, people must do their work from the start and not just wait to react to pressure,” he charged.
While speaking his mind in a packed hall at the Swapo headquarters, Nekongo instructed fledgling National Assembly members serving on a SPYL ticket such as Natangwe Ithete, Lucia Ipumbu, Paula Kooper who were in attendance to push the agenda of the youth league and ensure that SPYL decisions are propelled to the national level.
The MPs looked at Nekongo with disbelief on their faces, at times even whispering into each others’ ears, seemingly perplexed by Nekongo’s hard-line stance towards government and some of its policies which he feels are not in favour of Namibians.
In his official statement, Nekongo expressed concern saying the SPYL has observed that Namibian young people remain unemployed and that the economy is not growing to the benefit of society.
He revealed that the Central Committee meeting resolved to hold an extra ordinary meeting to specifically discuss the issue of the unemployment in the country, adding that SPYL will use the meeting to come up with practical resolutions which will be presented to Government to address the issue of unemployment in the country.
“We therefore resolved that the young people that are engaged in Horticulture production should be assisted with financial and material activities to ensure that they grow the economy and create employment to fellow young people in the country. We have observed some foreign owned companies importing goods that are available in Namibia; we therefore resolved that the government should only open our borders to goods that are not available in the country,” he charged. He criticised the tourism industry saying little has been done to transform the industry to accommodate black Namibians.
Without giving any examples or supporting information, he also claimed that “the tourism sector deliberately excludes black Namibians from actively participating in the sector.
Central Committee resolved that Government should ensure that black Namibians are mainstreamed into the Tourism Sector especially in trophy hunting. The tourism sector of our economy must become representative and inclusive. The Central Committee further resolved to direct Ministry of Environment and Tourism to come up with tangible and serious reforms in the tourism sector to ensure that ordinary Namibians and communities are not just beneficiaries but owners of tourism establishments and activities,” he said.
In order to capacitate the domestic horticulture industry, SPYL wants all government institutions to procure foot items procured in Namibia. Nekongo also blasted government for not protecting Namibian businesses. “We feel that Namibians engaging in various business activities are not protected by the Government, we thus call on a creation of infancy protection for Namibian owned business in various sectors,” he said.
With finance minister Calle Schlettwein set to deliver the Mid Term Budget Policy Statement in the National Assembly next week, Nekundi wants Treasury to allocate sufficient funds to the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service to support the youth programs especially those tailored to generate economy.
Some of the core of the problems facing the country’s State-Owned Enterprises are rampant mismanagement, incompetence, corruption and looting.
Nekongo spat venom in the direction of SOEs saying “we have observed with dismay that some of our SOEs are faced with squabbles and leadership in-fights.”
“We call on the Ministers responsible to take prompt action to failing SOEs. We do not accept the situation of taxpayers’ money being wasted by people who are entrusted to protect it, those that are found to be wrong must be brought to book. All heads of SOEs and their executives must sign performance agreements with the Government and if they fail to adhere to the agreed performance action must be taken accordingly. We further calling on a Government for one Namibian to serve on one board,” he said.
Whether this is a short term injection of vigour or whether this energy is sustained by Nekongo remains to be seen.
The verdict is out.