National Youth Council: The Unfulfilled Promise

Malcolm Kambanzera

Across the vast expanses of Namibia, where the hopes and dreams of a burgeoning youth population intersect with the realities of governance, there is a palpable sense of disillusionment among young Namibians.

At its heart lies the National Youth Council (NYC), once heralded as the voice of the youth, but now perceived as a symbol of unfulfilled promises and missed opportunities in fighting maladministration, fraud and corruption.

After a recent representative council meeting at Ondangwa, it became evident that the NYC has fallen short of its duty to empower and uplift the aspirations of young Namibians.

It has become a personal tool for politics and needs to clean house.


The NYC was envisioned as a platform where young voices could find resonance in the corridors of power.

However, despite its mandate to advocate youth rights and amplify their voices, the NYC has become disconnected from the grassroots realities of young Namibians.

The average young person from Katutura does not know it exists or what it does.

Participation is core to an effective youth council, serving as a conduit for meaningful engagement and dialogue between young people and policymakers.

Yet, the NYC’s approach has been marred by tokenism and superficiality.

While the youth are nominally represented within the council, their genuine participation in decision-making processes remains elusive.

Too often, decisions are made without adequate consultation.


Advocacy is the lifeblood of being a driving force for systemic change and reform.

Despite the challenges young Namibians face – from unemployment and education inequity to social exclusion and political apathy – the NYC has failed to galvanise meaningful action or to secure tangible outcomes.

Rather, it has become ensnared in bureaucratic red tape and political manoeuvring, rendering it impotent in the face of pressing issues.

Key to successful youth councils is visionary leadership – individuals committed to championing youth empowerment and driving transformative change.

Unfortunately, internal divisions and leadership crises have undermined the NYC’s effectiveness and credibility.

Instead of inspiring confidence and trust, the council has become synonymous with infighting.

However, there is a glimmer of hope – the possibility of reimagining the future of youth representation and empowerment in Namibia.

To realise this vision, several steps must be taken.

The institution cannot move forward with the incumbent leadership. They need to go.


Rebuilding trust is perhaps the most daunting challenge facing the NYC.

It will require a concerted effort to bridge the gap between the council and young Namibians.

Further, an environment of openness, inclusivity and mutual respect needs to be fostered.

By demonstrating a genuine commitment to youth empowerment and delivering tangible results, the NYC can begin to rebuild trust and credibility among its constituents.

This must be the first task of the new leadership that will be ushered in at the next general assembly.

The NYC must adopt a youth-centred approach that places the needs, aspirations and concerns of young Namibians at the forefront of its agenda.

This requires genuine engagement and consultation with young people from diverse backgrounds and regions, ensuring that their voices are heard and their perspectives valued.

Transparency and accountability are non-negotiable principles for an effective youth council.

The NYC must prioritise transparency in its decision-making processes, ensuring that young Namibians are informed and involved every step of the way. Additionally, mechanisms for accountability must be established and council members and the leadership must be held to the highest ethical standards.


Advocacy is not merely about making a noise, it is about strategically leveraging resources and mobilising support to effect meaningful change.

The NYC must develop a strategic advocacy agenda that prioritises key youth issues and identifies clear objectives and targets.

By aligning its advocacy efforts with concrete policy outcomes, the council can demonstrate its relevance to young Namibians.

It must also harness the creativity and ingenuity of young Namibians to drive innovation in its programmes and initiatives.

Whether through technology, entrepreneurship, or grassroots activism, young people must be empowered to lead the charge for change in their communities.

The NYC is at a crossroads – a pivotal moment in which its relevance and efficacy are in the balance.

Will it seize the opportunity to redefine itself as a beacon of hope and empowerment for young Namibians?

It is time for the NYC to embark on a journey of renewal and transformation.

Only then can it truly fulfil its promise as the voice of Namibia’s youth and as a catalyst for their empowerment.

  • * Malcolm Kambanzera is a member of the NYC representative council, a former SRC president of Unam and former Nanso secretary general. He has a keen interest in politics, education and governance.

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