Politics and student activism wired bed fellows
Political bickering and allegiance has found itself raising its ugly head again in the affairs of the Namibia National Students Organisation and one should have the guts and call this development counterproductive and regrettable for the thousands of students who expect the organisation to represent their calls.
Recently the organisation held its elections and one could not ignore the undue influence that the political activist from outside had on the student organisation. In fact such interest from youthful politicians was even visible on social media when the suspended Swapo Youth League spokesperson Job Amupanda took his opportunity to rant at National Youth Council Mandela Kapere for backing certain candidates at the elections.
It is very disturbing that the only recognised national body for students, has started to creep into petty politics by having political affiliations to controversial youth politicians. One wonders where that leaves their core mandate of sorting out the plight of students countrywide because wherever politicians are involved there is nothing in for the public except for the politicians.
It is our judgement call this week to emphasise the point that the only reason of having a student body is to represent the interest of Namibian students both studying in and outside of Namibia, not to create factions with affiliations to the ‘obedient’ Kapere & Co and the ‘non-obedient’ Amupanda & Co.
It is no secret that Nanso elections that took place recently carried more controversy with the presence of Job Amupanda and Mandela Kapere’s name in the background. Nothing wrong though with the two having interest in student activism but there is everything wrong with them having undue influence on Nanso.
The Nanso Congress seems to have forgotten that it is exactly political affiliations that brought the organisation to near extinction in the early 2000s. In the early 2000s, the organisations held elections which were to decide whether the body’s affiliation to the ruling party should stay intact which then made some members unhappy causing them to leave which then resulted in the body being weakened.
Yes, history is about to repeat itself because after independence Nanso has been battling to keep its affairs related to students only, by always getting involved in politics.
It is understandable that the body had political affiliations because during the days of Ignatius Shixwameni who was also a founding member, the liberation struggle was important because like a free Namibia, the body was fighting for quality education for all Namibian students which explains why they would have had political affiliations.
However after independence the body should have been able to cut its ties to any political party or undue political affiliation for it to be able to fully represent the interests of students and only of students and not petty politics.
Currently, student issues seem to be getting worse while, the organisation plays tug of war. Last year, Namibian students studying in Malaysia went for three months without any allowances from NSFAF, yes Namibian students were starving beyond the borders. These are the same students who are supposed to come back to the country to fill up our public hospitals, and clinics but their problems were not being attended to because Nanso was busy fighting itself.
Currently, Namibian students studying in Crimea province in Russia would not have access to their funds without having to travel outside that province because of the sanctions imposed on Crimea in December which means that all ATMs are inaccessible to our students. Right now, going to an ATM for a Namibian student in Crimea is like driving from Windhoek to Otjiwarongo to use an ATM. However those issues are not being addressed for students, because Nanso’s arms to not reach out that far.
Nanso needs to establish itself as an independent body without political affiliations and it needs to branch itself to all those other countries that are hosting Namibian students because they are facing difficulties everyday but their issues only go as far as another student body or another student representative who also does not have any access to Nanso.
There is also that need for the leadership of Nanso to know that they do not owe any politician a favour but the greatest favour they owe is to the Namibian students. It will be shameful one day when students find themselves in catch 22 situations while their leaders are looking for undue allegiance to the politics of the day.
A realistic judgement would be that let Nanso stand for student issues and politicians stand for the politics and there should never be a day that the two cross paths because the results are detrimental.
Linekela Halwoodi: The Villager