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Friday 18 January 2019
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Electoral integrity flourishes under democracy – Isaak

W

Director of Elections (CEO) of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), Professor Paul John Isaak, says Namibia as a democratic state is ready to make major and fundamental contributions towards democracy to serve the welfare of its people.
Isaak was responding to questions from The Patriot regarding this year’s International Day of Democracy commemoration. The day is observed each year on 15 September.
“This year’s theme of democracy and conflict prevention focuses on the critical need to strengthen democratic institutions to promote peace and stability. A more integrated approach to foster resilient societies calls for effective and inclusive democratic governance with respect for human rights and the rule of law.
“Elections are a key indicator of any democracy, hence Isaak outlined that electoral integrity flourishes under the climate of democracy, human development and service delivery towards the welfare of all without making the rich richer and the poor poorer. “
In pursuit of the developmental objectives through Vision 2030, Harambee Prosperity Plan and the NDPs goals, Namibia is regarded as doing fairly well in the promotion of just, peaceful and inclusive society, except in the area of Infant Mortality and Unemployment (especially Youth Unemployment) where the desired rates has not been attained,” said Isaak.
On basis of the link between democracy and upholding of human rights in 2007, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe 15 September as the International Day of Democracy with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles and values of democracy, and invited all member states and organizations to commemorate the day in a manner that contributes to raising public awareness.
Societies and politicians are urged to celebrate the International Day of Democracy through some form of special activity such as emphasizing the importance of democracy, what it involves, the challenges it faces as well as the opportunities it offers, and the central responsibility that parliaments have as the key institution of democracy. Activities can also include examines and discussions of how parliament performs its democratic functions, possibly on the basis of a self-assessment, and identify what steps it may take to strengthen its effectiveness. This year’s theme for the International Day of Democracy is: “Democracy and Conflict Prevention”.
Isaak affirmed that constitutional democracy and development are happening in Namibia on the fact that the Namibian State makes provision that regular elections are conducted in a free, fair, credible and peaceful manner. However, Isaak called on people to understand that development is not the mere construction of skyscrapers, endless roads and airports or hotels. “It is also not the sheer statistical increase in Gross Domestic Product and Gross National Product indices. It is also not the creation of pockets of new emerging African elitism. But, development must ultimately mean the qualitative and quantitative growth of both the material and non-material fund of resources available to individuals and society for the fuller pursuit of their creative energies. Where development takes place it registers in all areas of social life,” he said.
Isaak further stated that the value of democracy in Namibia lies in the fact that Namibia as a country subscribes to the principles and values of democracy. “Through democratic elections any government ought to bring around food to the hungry, proper and affordable housing to the homeless, clinics and hospitals to the sick and safe environment in the prisons where those imprisoned are fully protected. I think of basic human needs – food; clothing; shelter; health care and, by implication, the basic socio-political need for human dignity, human rights and integrity. Democratic practice, in turn, is a good basis for even and equitable development approaches,” expressed Isaak.
Isaak said Namibia can strengthen democratic institutions to promote peace and stability by abiding by the principles and values of democracy, and in particular by legislating and enforcing laws which guarantee inclusivity, full participation and freedom of expression. The legal and constitutional framework must guarantee, among others, but not exclusively holding of credible and regular elections, civil and political rights of citizens, oversight mechanisms to guarantee rule of law, civil and voter education, satisfying basic economic needs and freedom of expression.
“Let me underscore that elections and democracy means that Namibians want to see tangible benefits from having voted and that issues such as employment, alleviation of poverty, gender equality, adequate social and medical care, adequate and affordable housing, quality education and allocation to land must be successfully addressed and implemented. To put it more strongly and boldly, only when such basic needs of daily life are implemented the electorate will believe that people could “eat democracy” and that democracy delivers credible products.
To concretise upon the concept of “eating democracy” let me paraphrase Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) by stating that development must be people centred and outcome oriented. Strongly expressed such people centredness and outcome orientedness means ending hunger poverty and zero deaths in Namibia due to lack of food; providing residential plots country wide, housing and eliminate the outside-bucket-toilets; reduce infant and maternity mortality because “one mother who dies while giving birth is one mother too many” and create employment for all, especially for the youth,” said Isaak.
Although Namibia may not be known for democracy abuses, Isaak highlighted that there are certain challenges experienced in the country which may be construed as democracy abuses. Notable among these challenges are several sectors of society, including the opposition political parties that have long demanded the levelling of playing field in terms of equal access to state media and the alleged use of State resources by the ruling party during the election campaign period.




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