“Youth can’t look up to corrupt leaders” Musinga T. Bandora, UN Resident Coordinator
Speaking at the observance by the Namibian Parliament of the 2014 International Democracy
Musinga Bandora, UN Resident Coordinator – Namibia
the Resident Coordinator stated that this year’s theme “Engaging Young People on Democracy” underlines the challenges and opportunities of young people for engaging in democratic processes.
The theme is most opportune as Namibia is in the middle of an election process. In two months the country will be going to the polls to elect a new President and Parliament.
Mr. Bandora also outlined that it is estimated that people between the ages of 15 and 25 constitute a fifth of the world’s population. Yet, studies show declining faith among young people in traditional politics. Participation in elections, in political parties and traditional social organizations is declining.
However, this does not suggest that the youth are apathetic to social and political causes. Informal, youth-led movements for democratic change are on the rise, he said. Using new communication channels in social networks, young people are making their mark on democracy-building- in new ways. The National Assembly Speaker, Theo-Ben Gurirab annual sponsorship and patronage of the Youth Parliament testifies to this commitment.
Fortunately, here in Namibia we see a rising interest by the Youth in conventional politics and its processes. According to statistics released by the Electoral Commission of Namibia, eighty five percent of the Namibian youth have registered to vote. It is reported that 44%, of the 1,151million registered during the first phase registration fall within the 18 to 32 years age group. Against a total Namibian youth population of about 600,000 this represents 85% youths who have registered. This is very commendable indeed but the challenge is to sustain the youth’s interest and inspire them to go out and actually vote in November.
But how do we rekindle and sustain the interest of the youth in mainstream politics? Politics must be made interesting to the young people. We must make use of mobile technology and social media as communication tools to disseminate information and as a means to receive feedback, opinions and suggestions on issues and challenges faced by young people. The youth are plugged in, connected-whether on emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Myspace, and the others. Only through this powerful social medium are we able to reach and communicate with them effectively.
The youth need inspiration. And in politics, it means political role models. If there is a perception, rightly or wrongly that politics and politicians are corrupt or out of touch, the youth will have no inspiration and no one to look up to. A dictator, an inept or corrupt leader is not inspiring. Cynicism can only be defeated by inspiration through excellence, integrity and commitment of politicians-who are looked upon to provide the example.
The year’s event organized by Parliament and attended by pupils from various high schools within the city was aimed at encouraging the youth to actively engage in politics. The highlight of the day was the personal engagement of the youth in a question and answering session with the Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab, the UN Resident Coordinator, Musinga Bandora, Dr. André September, Coordinator, Ecumenical Social Community Action Council of Churches in Namibia, Hon. Juliet Kavetuna, Member of Parliament and Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Hon. Petrus Damaseb of the High Court, Adv. Notemba Tjipueja, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Namibia, Mr. Graham Hopwood, Executive Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Hon. Shaandre Finnies, Deputy Speaker of the 4th Session of Children’s Parliament.