Public dialogue on Social Protection, Inequality and Youth Unemployment
By Clifton Movirongo.
In a dialogue on Social Protection, Inequality, and Youth Unemployment: Infringement of the Social Contract, community members and a panel of experts gathered in Windhoek last week to discuss possible solutions to the youth unemployment crisis, with an emphasis on social protection systems.
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation Namibia hosted the event at the Protea Hotel in collaboration with the University of Namibia’s Faculty of Humanities, Society, and Development.
According to Dr Basilius Kasera, the keynote speaker, ”The lack of adequate social protection systems exacerbates socioeconomic inequality.”
Subsequently, he emphasized that confidence in government institutions has diminished. The lecturer also submitted that there has been a decline in youth employment, a stagnant economy despite substantively ambitious development plans, and a deterioration in public services during the last two decades.
First discussant, Albius Mwiya, former Director for Labour Market Services at the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations, and Employment Creation, claimed that the government has established solid policies to reduce unemployment since 1997. “The core problem, however, is that these policies have not been implemented,” he said.
Mwiya urged young people to continue holding the government accountable and to question the country’s resource redistribution.
In her address, Sharonice Busch, Executive Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Namibia maintained that Namibia’s political stability was attributable to a functioning social security system. She also disagreed with Dr Kasera’s conclusion that the social contract is being undermined, arguing that progress must be assessed by what has already been accomplished.
Moreover, Nafimane Hamukoshi, a youth activist and trustee of the Economic and Social Justice Trust, noted that a high level of poverty in Namibia violates the social contract. She also stated that young people in rural areas in particular, had considerably fewer opportunities to participate in government-sponsored programmes.
Friedrich Ebert Namibia concluded that this discussion showed the different perspectives from which the participants came: Those who had not faced abject poverty would have a different view of youth unemployment than those who had experienced despair, precarious living conditions, and depression. Accordingly, the first step to overcome the crisis would be “to acknowledge its existence.” According to the World Food Programme, youth unemployment in Namibia will reach 48% by 2023.