The elders must go systematically: Nekongo

05 Sep 2019 10:40am
WINDHOEK, 05 SEP (NAMPA) – Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary, Ephraim Nekongo, is an ardent advocate for the deployment of young Swapo members into leadership positions but this does not mean that the older ones currently occupying these positions must vacate them overnight.
Nekongo made these remarks in an interview with this agency on Wednesday ahead of the ruling party’s Electoral College, known as the ‘pot’ this weekend.
He was quizzed on SPYL’s position on older party leaders, some of whom have been members of parliament for over a two-decades but who want to continue beyond 21 March 2020.
When asked what the ideal age for a Swapo politician to retire and make way for younger leaders, Nekongo replied: “That is a provocative question. The tide needs to flow. The new blood must come in but we also need the wisdom of our elders. It’s too early to talk about that. The elders must go systematically.”
According to Nekongo, the problem in Swapo is not with the older members of the party, but the youth.
“The fundamental question is; are we ready to take over or are we just fighting amongst ourselves,” he said.
“People feel that if it's not me who has a doctorate that is leading, then it's not inclusion. [These] teams are problematic. I repeat that there is no opposition that can defeat Swapo, only ourselves can destroy it,” he added.
He then appealed to his peers to bury the hatchet and work for Namibia and Swapo’s common good.
“We can’t be used by elders [to fight their battles]. Let’s put our differences aside. Let’s not call each other zombies,” Nekongo said.
Since taking charge of the SPYL two years ago, Nekongo has been preaching the gospel of unity among Swapo youth, he said.
“But people just don’t want to unite. There is a saying that you can take a horse to that water point but you cannot force it to drink,” a seemingly hopeless Nekongo said.
This lack of unity has also meant the older members cannot trust them with the party, Nekongo posited.
Approached by Nampa for his views on the age issue, former Prime Minister and veteran politician Nahas Angula, who said he is not contesting at the college, said that age should not matter.
“What matters is competence, commitment [to serve], integrity and hard work,” he said.
“You must also know that some of these young people only want bread. They are not interested in serving the nation. The youth also need guidance from the elders,” he added.
Over 200 Swapo members will assemble in Windhoek this weekend to elect the 96 members who will qualify for National Assembly seats, ahead of November’s national elections.