Police asked to wrestle car keys from youth council director

Calista Schwartz-Gowases
…power struggles intensify between Schwartz-Gowases and Busch

The Namibian Police on Wednesday wrestled company car keys from National Youth Council (NYC) director Calista Schwartz-Gowases after she allegedly refused to provide a minibus to transport staff to a meeting at Ondangwa.

The instructions to confiscate the vehicle keys were given to the police by NYC executive chairperson Sharonice Busch, who wanted the car to transport the staff to a representative council meeting scheduled at Ondangwa over the weekend.

Busch, who is embroiled in a power struggle with Schwartz-Gowases, yesterday confirmed the altercation.

Schwartz-Gowases allegedly didn’t want to give the car keys because Busch arranged the meeting without notifying Schwartz-Gowases.

Busch then escalated the matter to the police.

“I reported the matter to the police after seeking advice from my legal representatives, because she did not want to hand over the keys for the minibus for the youth to travel. She was angry because I approved the meeting when she was in Russia. She even challenged the senior police officers that were assisting with the matter,” she said.

Busch said the incident occurred as a result of Schwartz-Gowases’ misconduct and insubordination towards the executive chairperson’s office and the board.

“I was out on an official mission. When I came back to the office, it was the day delegates and staff were travelling. She took keys, unlawfully trying to hold an institution hostage. We thank the Namibian Police for assisting the NYC board in getting the keys back and having our staff and delegates travel to the north,” said Busch.

Busch accused Schwartz-Gowases of leaking information to the media.

“I am resolved to build a more transparent, accountable and resilient institution,” she said.

“We cannot run it in the absence of a strong governance framework, which my board and I are committed to bring into NYC by reviewing all policies and aligning them to other statutory provisions and requirements we must fulfil.”

When approached for a comment regarding the allegations, Schwartz-Gowases refused to comment.

“I understand your questions and appreciate the engagement, but I am not at liberty to engage on this issue as this matter is being dealt with by all relevant authorities,” she said.

NYC was established in March 1994 to address the challenges, opportunities and obstacles facing young people. However, the institution has over the years been rocked by power struggles and mismanagement, with leaders using it as a springboard to land top jobs in the government.

Sharonice Busch


The power struggle between Busch and Schwartz-Gowases has led to an internal investigation into allegations of non-compliance, corruption and mismanagement between the two.

The investigation hearings, that started on 24 January are being carried out by a special committee appointed jointly by the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service and the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises

In a letter dated 26 September 2023, obtained by The Namibian and directed to sport, youth and national service minister Agnes Tjongarero, Schwartz-Gowases accused Busch of undermining her authority and making decisions that exceed her role as a political figurehead.

“The primary matter under discussion relates to the enduring and daunting challenges I have encountered within the working environment since my reappointment as director of the council in December 2020,” Schwartz-Gowases said.

“My intention was to resuscitate the ailing institution with a toxic working environment which has negatively affected the working relationships, morale and the overall performance,” Schwartz-Gowases said.

Schwartz-Gowases added that she hoped the arrangement would be in the best interest of the council, striving to unite and work around a shared vision and respond to change, meeting the council’s strategic objectives.

“Regrettably, this proposition did not garner support, primarily because the executive chairperson maintains the perception of being the institution’s head and assumes oversight of day-to-day administrative functions within the council,” the letter reads.

Schwartz-Gowases is accused of working without a contract.

“If the executive chairperson, who is the chairperson of the board and is ultimately responsible, on behalf of the board to enter into an performance agreement with me, has taken over my roles and responsibilities, then the council is faced with serious governance problems,” said Schwartz-Gowases.

Schwartz-Gowases accused Busch of assuming the roles and responsibilities of the director.

Schwartz-Gowases has since requested that Tjongarero urgently intervene to amicably address the holistic institutional challenge encountered with establishing the enabling Act of the Council, Act No 3 of 2009.

“It is imperative to mention that the provisions of section 27 and section 35 of the NYC Act was not my making, therefore, I cannot be subjected to continuous torture and humiliation from the executive chairperson, merely because of the head of the institution position and its wrongly perceived functions,” she said.

Schwartz-Gowases said Busch is withholding information from her.

“The executive chairperson is deliberately withholding crucial official information from me and administrative decisions are executed without my awareness,[sic]. The only information currently received and handled by my office is that of our line ministry,” she said.

The police regional office did not respond to the incident, despite indicating that it would do so.

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