National Youth Council in chaos

Calista Schwartz-Gowases

… forced to suspend director

Some members of the representative council (RC) of the National Youth Council (NYC) have demanded transparency from the NYC board after an RC meeting was called off mid-way at Ondangwa over the weekend.

The meeting was called off because the NYC’s executive director, Calista Schwartz-Gowases, failed to provide the minutes of the previous representative council meeting.

These complaints and others led to her suspension yesterday afternoon following a press conference at which the representative council members levelled some serious allegations against her.

The chairperson of the human resources, remuneration and ethics committee, Simon Taapopi, yesterday confirmed the suspension.

He said this was to allow disciplinary proceedings to be conducted without interference.

“This media statement effectively informs the public that all powers and rights of Schwartz-Gowases to represent the NYC, or act on its behalf, are halted until further notice,” Taapopi said.

Among the allegations are that Schwartz-Gowases has been working without a contract since December 2021, creating a lack of clarity on powers and responsibilities between the executive chairperson and the director, resulting in power struggles.


During the meeting at Ondangwa, Schwartz- Gowases allegedly attempted to assault a representative of the Popular Democratic Movement.

Schwartz-Gowases did not respond to calls and messages sent to her yesterday.

National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) Youth League secretary general Veparura Kandirikirira yesterday said RC chairperson Willem Willem cancelled the meeting after lunch and refused to enter the meeting hall.

Kandirikirira said this during a media briefing with 30 representatives of some NYC-affiliated organisations in Windhoek yesterday morning.

He said the NYC has not submitted any audited financial report in the last three years.

According to another attendee of the meeting, Schwartz failed to produce the minutes of the previous meeting, which took place at Otjiwarongo in 2022.

“On Saturday, we told her to prepare the minutes. We gave her an hour, but she failed to do that. People started airing their unhappiness. One of them was Vakamuina Kamutuezu. She then shouted to her ‘I will f**ck you up’,” the attendee said.

Some attendees returned to the hall and asked the chairperson to resume the meeting, but this did not happen.

“The chairperson said she will not return to the meeting again. All the board members should go. We can’t be led by people like that,” the source said.


The meeting was allegedly also called off, because representatives of the affiliates wanted to pass a vote of no confidence in the council’s board.

The RC as the second-highest decision-making body of the council when the General Assembly is not in session was to discuss issues of maladministration, insubordination, corruption and power struggles at the NYC.

The NYC failed to convene the annual RC meeting in 2023, as per the National Youth Council Act.

“Allegations against the board of the council range from lost general assembly resolutions, the director working without a contract, and defying the directives of the representative council to appoint the board of directors of BridgeHead, a subsidiary of NYC,” another source told The Namibian.

The RC, which consists of 74 people, convened the failed meeting at Ondangwa from Friday to Saturday.

The NYC comprises over 50 youth organisations.

During the meeting they demanded that the board call for the RC meeting no later than April, and that youth minister Agnes Tjongarero file for a commission of inquiry against the board and its director to seek a forensic audit report.


The Namibian last week reported that the government has launched an investigation into the NYC to probe allegations of corruption, mismanagement and non-compliance.

The probe revolves around internal conflicts between executive chairperson Sharonice Busch, and Schwartz-Gowases, according to documents obtained by The Namibian.

The investigation hearings, which started on 24 January, were conductted by a special committee appointed jointly by the youth ministry and the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises.

The investigation committee comprised chairperson Clement Daniels, Martha Domingos, Augustinus Nawaseb, Nicolars Tembwe, Ellencia Hanse and John Nguluwe.

Additionally, Kandirikirira asked why Tjongarero was not present at the event.

“She needed to show up, especially seeing that the council’s name has had serious allegations in the various newspapers, “ he said.

Tjongarero did not respond to calls and messages sent to her yesterday.

Taapopi yesterday confirmed that the investigation has been completed by the special committee, but its findings have not been released yet.

The NYC board is not sure they will receive the findings, since it is a ministerial report.

An independent investigatioin will be conducted by the board, Taapopi said.


Delegates from the Church of Africa and a former board member of the council, Kapanda Marenga, say they have written several letters to Tjongarero, but never received a response.

Marenga said Covid-19 has been used as an excuse.

“The minister of youth has stopped us from advertising the position of the director and two others during our time as the board. The proof is available in the minutes of all our meetings, that is if they still exist and are safe with the secretary to the board, which is the director,” Marenga said.

The president of the Namibian Youth Christian workers, Salmone Tsaitsaib, yesterday said: “This platform was never about the director. We went to this platform for the Namibian youth because we are the Namibian youth and have seen the struggles of the Namibian youth.”

Additionally, she demanded transparency from the board even though they only have six months left before their tenure comes to an end.

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