"Let us mobilise people in the region for democracy's sake" - NAMRIGHTS

Civil society organisations in Namibia have called for a two pronged approach towards pushing for democracy in the region.

Namibia Rights and Responsibility (NAMRIGHTS) Public Relations Manager argued that while it is strategic to engage with SADC leaders diplomatically, it is also important to show the leaders that people can rise against wayward leaders and can wage sustained street protests in order to be heard.

Speaking during a closed door meeting with a Zimbabwe Youth Delegation on December 11, 2012 in Windhoek, Namibia, Cde Stephen advised his Zimbabwean counterparts to use the social media as a mobilisation tool for young people.

"Here in Namibia we have witnessed the power of social media particularly Face book. When we started the group, we had less than 50 members but now there are more than 2300 young people. These young people raise and debate issues that affect them and take action through different mass based approaches. The young people in Zimbabwe can make a difference by simply exposing some of the ills that are being propagated by the ruling parties".

The Zimbabwe Delegation which is made up of the Director of National Youth Development Trust (NYDT), Liberty Bhebhe and Female Students Network (FSN) representative, Chiedza Chiwetu took a swipe at the partisan distribution of resources in Zimbabwe. The youths informed NAMRIGHTS that the current indigenisation and economic empowerment drive in Zimbabwe lacks transparency and is a political carrot being dangled by a particular political party to lure voters for election purposes.

"The economic empowerment policy in Zimbabwe is not genuine. It is there to promote lootocracy and fatten the pockets of the elite while young people languish in abject poverty. Instead, young people are lured to join certain political parties through false promises and hand outs. These youths end up being used as perpetrators of violence and once elections are over, they are dumped and they become outcasts in communities", said Bhebhe.

"There is no transparency in the Diamond industry. The youths do not have any share in precious stones. It is a preserve for the elite and those in power. We are simply pawns in big game of chess. We need to stand up and say no. We can only do this if we unite in the region", added Bhebhe.

Bhebhe called for people to people solidarity in the region. He informed NAMRIGHTS representatives that leaders in the region have their own solidarity which protects them from any revolt from ordinary people and it is important that SADC citizens unite and alienate leaders with errant behaviour.

Leonard Rutagarama, NAMRIGHTS Coordinator concurred with Bhebhe and said that there is need to break the information gap which currently exists in the region by constantly sharing information.

"Here in Namibia, information is protected and censored. It is difficult to know the Namibian story, but if we share information among ourselves and outside the official channels, then such information can get out there and mobilise regional citizens to act on behalf of the down trodden", emphasised Rutagarama.

"If we make use of social networks such as Face book, other citizens within the region can package it and use it for lobby and advocacy purposes. They can actually approach their own governments and put pressure based on credible information shared by regional citizens", added Rutagarama

FSN Representative, Chiedza Chiwetu thanked NAMRIGHTS for having accepted to meet the Zimbabwe delegation and said that their mission was simply to share information and get to know each other.

"We are simply here to foster a relationship with our brothers and sisters. We are aware that you will be going for elections in two years-time and we want to support you. As you are aware we are likely to have a referendum and an election in Zimbabwe in 2013 and your solidarity can make or break the current social, economic and political impasse in Zimbabwe", said Chiwetu

NAMRIGHTS and the Zimbabwe youth delegation agreed to share information on a weekly basis and to invite each other to processes that enhance information sharing and people to people solidarity.

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