Youth call for tackling of institutional racism in Namibia

Staff Writer

Namibia’s ruling Swapo Party Youth league has called for the establishment of a presidential enquiry to investigate alleged institutionalised racism at professional bodies in the country.

The Khomas region youth league branch also called on the government to establish a ‘mandatory council’ to oversee such professional bodies.

“We are informed of institutionalised racism in this country with the view to exclude the black people from economical progression.

“We call for a presidential enquiry into the affairs of these professional bodies with the view to have them reformed,” said the Khomas wing’s regional spokesperson Sam Hamupolo at a media briefing this week.

Hamupolo said professional bodies in Namibia use laws and procedures, tailor-made to favour white professionals as a way of preventing blacks from progressing up the professional ladder.

He also said blacks, who did not study in traditionally acceptable universities, especially in South Africa, struggle to get recognised in Namibia.

For example, some graduates who studied in Cuba, Russia and China are not recognised despite being sent to study on government scholarships.

Hamupolo is the latest politician to take on professional bodies in country that have at times come under heavy criticism for allegedly behaving like exclusive clubs.

Bodies overseeing engineers, medical doctors, pilots, lawyers and auditors as well as accountants have all received their share of criticism for allegedly blocking blacks from progressing.

On the opposing end are those who argued that these bodies have done a great deal in maintaining that Namibia sticks to international standards, which is also seen as the reason why the country has been doing better than many in Africa and the world.

Black lawyers in Namibia did not wait for government’s intervention as articulated by Hamupolo but simply organised themselves and lobbied for a stronger voice through the Law Society of Namibia.

The Southern Times learned that the at its annual general meeting held November last year, black lawyers took charge of the body to influence its policies and decisions.

The AGM elected a new council consisting of eight lawyers with only two being white. This was a first since Namibia’s independence for the council to be dominated by black lawyers.

This was a result of an informal pressure group called the ‘black legal caucus forum’ that lobbied black lawyers to vote for themselves.

The group, which consist mainly of young lawyers, used the advantage of their numbers to win the majority seats on the council.

The success at last year’s annual general meeting, revived the Namibia Law Association that had been dormant for over 10 years.

The Namibia Law Association went dormant because of lack of interest from the legal fraternity.

It was created to make legal service and justice more accessible to the majority of the Namibian population.