WINDHOEK, 04 OCT – The Namibia National Students’ Organisation (Nanso) says the National Land Conference has sidelined them and does not represent the dreams and aspirations of the youth.
Nanso president Ester Simon made these comments in response to questions sent to her by Nampa on Thursday.
She said the conference does not place young people at the centre of discussion.
“There’s inadequate and improper representation of all sectors of society. The youth and students are disregarded in this important national conference that affects everybody,” Simon said.
She went on to say their understanding is that as youth in general and students in particular, the land question affects them.
“We can’t have a situation where decisions and policy positions are taken on our behalf, without our input or involvement.”
The Nanso leader then added that students face an array of challenges as far as access to land is concerned.
“There is a lack of adequate accommodation facilities on and around campuses for students and the challenge of students living far from campus affects their academic performance.”
As a result, students find themselves at the mercy of landlords who charge exorbitant rent or they are forced to live in dangerous neighbourhoods, she said.
“The land conference must address the question of the urgent need for student accommodation development and the need for rent for students and young people to be controlled, regulated and capped,” Simon proposed.
She further said land reform should benefit and include the poor, particularly young people, women, farm workers and the landless.
“Under-utilised and unutilised land should be expropriated and land transfers or resettlement should be matched with support to assist the new owners of the land to make productive use of it,” Simon added.
She further stated that the conference is unbalanced because there are so many government representatives.
According to the official programme, government offices, ministries and agencies constitute about 70 per cent of the delegates at the land indaba.
The student leader said if the government wants genuine transformation, it must place young Namibians at the centre of the discourse.
“This is because as young people we are the true agents of transformation; skilled, knowledgeable, qualified and capable of reflecting and providing direction on matters that affect our existence of political, social and economic nature,” she stressed.
The five-day conference started Monday. Around 800 delegates are in attendance.