By Staff Reporter
Mines minister Tom Alweendo has joined voices calling parliament bandwagon for the control of social media and has decried that it was being used by young people to “slander elders”.
Alweendo, who has been touted as an intellectual, emphasized that regulation should be limited to cases of hate speech or where violence is being used.
The minister was commenting on the motion of Evelyn !Nawases-Taeyele about social cohesion and interrogating the question of “where we are on our vision of being One Namibia One Nation”.
He indicated that the overall sentiments as expressed in the motion required the parliamentarians’ “deep and comprehensive reflection.
In recent times we all have noted the explosion of the usage of the social media (sic). On average the social media (sic) is being used as a tool for good, exchanging information instantaneously.
Unfortunately we have also noted how the social media (sic) has been used as a tool to promote wickedness; such as propagating hate speech or being used to cause harmful divisions in societies.
It now appears as if slandering and maligning others with impunity on social media, especially government leaders, has become a new normal,” he said.
He put it to the law makers that the real challenge was to convince the youth that “slandering the elders” on social media was not an effective way to address what is wrong in society and to change the status quo.
“I believe that the abuse of social media is simply symptomatic of a much bigger problem. Therefore we will address the problem only when we fully understand the main causes. With what is happening around us it appears as if in the course of progressing in our socio-economic development agenda over the years, we might have done things that, albeit inadvertently, that made the youth to feel alienated,” he said.
He addressed these “things” as those that make young people feel government does not have their best interest at heart and “that they need to fend for themselves.
Whenever I engage the youth, it is my impression that they perceive that there is a lack of access to decision making structures.
They perceive that there is a lack of effective means to impact upon national policy and legislation.
They believe that there is a lack of meaningful engagement on youth issues in the chambers of government. The unfortunate thing is that when it comes to perception, what I perceive becomes my truth.
And when that happens, what we are then likely to see is what our minds are prepared to comprehend. It is these out-of-place perceptions that often lead to frustrations among the youth.
They then decide to use their freedom of expression in online spaces, but unfortunately in a rather less than productive fashion,” he explained.
He said some young people start to behave in crude and vulgar manner, “believing that they will attract our attention”.
Alweendo said in these online spaces there is often misinformation and what he called “ill-founded perceptions”.
“As with regard to the view that today’s youth are ill-mannered, that they are undisciplined, I believe that as elders and as parents we need to do a serious self-reflection.
As parents we are responsible for the upbringing of our children.
It is our responsibility to teach them good manners. It is our duty to inculcate in them good values, values of respect and civility. I therefore think that before we act surprised by how our children turned out as bad mannered youth, we need to ask ourselves a number of questions such as how do we raise our children? What values did we teach them? I believe that questions such as these will help us to better deal with the youth issue at hand. One fact that is important to keep in mind, while thinking about potential answers to some of the questions, is that children may refuse to listen to their parents, like they seem to be doing now, but they will always imitate their parents,” said the minister.
He said the old and new generations needed each other in order to reach the objective of a prosperous Namibia.
“If we are going to cultivate and nurture a notion of “One Namibia One Nation”, we need to find effective means to build strong intergenerational alliances,” he said.