National protest planned against unemployment

Steve Nashama

Frustrated young Namibians have chosen Independence Day to protest against the hopelessness of their prospect to be gainfully employed.

Michael Amushelelo will spearhead the protest and the activist confirmed that preparations for the national mass action is well under way and that the police were alerted about the youth’s plan.

“We are just waiting for the 21 of March so that we go to the streets and hand over our petition to the relevant authority,” Amushelelo said.

He said that people should understand that the police do not have the authority to disallow any protest action.

“We don’t have such a law. The police only need to be informed or alerted, and that is what exactly we did,” he said.

He indicated that after handing over the unemployed youth’s petition, the protestors will give the government a one-month deadline to respond.

The activist pointed out that the independence of Namibia is for all Namibians, and every single citizen should be able to enjoy the fruits of the country’s prosperity.

“We want to see what the government is doing about the unemployment issue in Namibia. Unemployment has become a crisis in Namibia and has made life so difficult for other people who are unemployed. Therefore, we are going to express our democratic right on 21 March,” Amushelelo stated.

He added that the Namibian youth are suffering and resorting to alternative ways to generate income simply because of poverty. He said that people in power simply do not care about them.

“What are we going to celebrate on Independence Day? Is it poverty? Is it hunger? Is it shacks? Is it unemployment?” he questioned, adding that politicians should know that a hungry nation is an angry nation.

“There is no way that only some people are able enjoy the fruits of Independence,” he said.

On Tuesday this week, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Leader, McHenry Venaani called for the establishment of a monthly social grant of N$1, 500 for unemployed youth.

“Given that unemployment, especially among the youth, has reached a crisis level, with no solutions in sight, we propose that an unemployment benefit grant of N$1, 500 to be introduced to serve as a safety net to the many young people,” he said in response to the appropriation bill debated in Parliament.

Many unemployed Namibians, with or without degrees, are roaming in the streets and cannot find employment. Instead, they resort to drinking and meaningless acts. There is also a record of many instances where huge numbers of young people gathered for an interview for just one position.

PDM Member of Parliament, Inna Hengari supported the protest and stated that it is not wrong for anyone to protest even when the president is giving a speech.

“It is young people’s democratic right to protest,” she said.

Hengari who has been vocal about the matter of youth unemployment said she is going to be available at the protest with her fellow young people. Youth unemployment in the country, according to Hengari, stands at over 60%.

“I will be there, as a young person. I will protest together with fellow young people. Even if I become the president of this country one day, I will be side by side with young people,” she said.

Last year, Hengari called on President Hage Geingob to declare a state of emergency on the youth unemployment crisis during his State of Nation Address (SONA).

In July last year, the National Assembly agreed to a motion by Hengari on youth unemployment, with deputy Speaker Loide Kasingo having referred the motion to a parliamentary standing committee to conduct nationwide consultations with young people and civil society organizations.

She said that the definition of the African Union on the recruitment slogan be reviewed since youth unemployed keeps growing, adding that the number of unemployed youth has increased to 160 506 in urban areas, with 57, 000 unemployed youth living in Windhoek and other towns close to the capital.

“Regardless of being educated, the fact remains young people are graduating to the streets of unemployment every year and that number keeps on growing,” she stressed.

The parliamentarian said: “For me, it is the best way to remain loudest that the fruits of Namibian Independence is not enjoyed by every Namibian.”

Hengari said the National Protest against Unemployment is far beyond political parties and it needs everyone’s support regardless of which political party they belong to.

She also added that young people should be encouraged to stand together and support each other.

“If we do not take ourselves seriously, no one will take us seriously. We must go in big numbers and protest with fellow unemployed young people. There is nothing wrong with protesting on 21 March,” she urged.

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) Spokesperson, Lifazala Simataa said the issue of unemployment among young people is a serious matter that needs a serious outlook by identifying and tackling the core root of the problem.

He added that he is not against the protest as long as it is not illegal. He, however added that he would comment further only after he saw a concept of the petition. Simataa said there are many aspects to the issue of unemployment such as the education crisis, the type of jobs young people want, the level of education and the specialisation. “What matters is to address the root cause of unemployment,” he said.

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