Namibia: New Students Union Launched

20 September 2019

Students from various tertiary institutions have joined hands with a break-away group from the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) to start a 'politically free' student union.

The Student Union of Namibia (SUN) was officially launched yesterday at the Katutura Youth Complex in Windhoek.

The area was filled with lively music, with students dressed in red shirts brandishing the new union's logo, which is a blue Namibian map with a sun and a fist holding a pen.

Many students took shelter under a small pavilion, while some sat in the intense heat to support the new union.

Speaking to The Namibian on the sidelines, former Nanso vice president Bernhard Kavau said the new students union seeks to prioritise the needs of students.

"We held a meeting last week, where it was decided that there is a need to start a new union that would be free politically and can care for all students, including those from vocational training centres (VTCs) whose needs are marginalised," stated Kavau.

He said there is currently an interim structure in place while they prepare to hold a congress.

"The situation at Nanso led us here because even after we were suspended, there was no hearing due to a lack of evidence. So, at the meeting last week, we decided instead of fighting at the expense of students, we should instead help the students," reasoned Kavau.

Moses Aipinge, who is the students representative council's president at Triumphant College, said he has been analysing Nanso's antics, hence his decision to join the new movement.

The University of Namibia's SRC secretary general, Matthew Shilumbu, said he was tired of seeing fellow students suffering, while Ikechukwu Lackey from the Valombola Vocational Training Centre said Nanso had failed to handle the affairs of students at VTCs, including assisting them to get equal funding from the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund.

The union becomes the first to challenge Nanso - an organisation which was set up in 1984 - as a non-racial, democratic and independent students' body.

Boasting of having housed some of the top leaders of this country, Nanso's rich legacy has been tainted lately by the constant infighting among its top leadership.

Also, its political affiliation to the ruling party, Swapo, has become a problem to students who left to join the new union.

Recently, Nanso's president, Ester Simon, suspended Nanso's then vice president Kavau, Simon Amunine, Sheya Ngolo and Tyson Hihanguapo, over allegations of insubordination.

In retaliation, Kavau suspended Simon, secretary general Simon Taapopi, secretary of finance Lebbeus Hashikutuva and secretary for gender, Lesley Sanjahi.

However, on Tuesday, Kavau issued a statement in which he and his co-suspended colleagues resigned from Nanso.

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