National Assembly speaker Peter Katjavivi has lamented disparity in Covid-19 vaccine access across the world.
He expressed this view while addressing the 143rd Session of the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Madrid, Spain on Saturday.
“It is important that we continue to speak out against vaccine nationalism in light of the global drive to vaccinate more people and achieve the required immunity against Covid-19,” Katjavivi stated.
He said people in advanced economies are already having booster shots, while countries in the South are often struggling to get sufficient vaccines for their people to receive two shots, as required.
Therefore, Katjavivi felt the distribution of vaccines must be done in an equitable manner which will not leave those countries in the global South behind.
Furthermore, he reaffirmed Namibia’s commitment towards the IPU for building a more collaborative and united global community of parliaments.
“Democracy is a vital precondition for sustainable development for building inclusive societies.
Divisions based on wealth, access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities are still common in many countries, “he added.
Also, he said the marginalisation of some groups of people is a constant reminder of the challenges faced in attempts to create a more just global order. He noted that in Namibia, they are well-aware of the dangers of polarisation.
Indeed, just over 30 years ago, Namibia emerged from the shackles of apartheid, which was one of the highest forms of state-sanctioned polarisation the world has seen.
Katjavivi said after many years of fighting for freedom and independence, the Namibian people emerged victorious in 1990.
“We have, in that process, adopted a constitution that established democratic electoral processes and institutions of state,” he continued.
He stated that the challenges faced by Namibia today derived from a painful past, and from the more common global trends of the present.
“Although there is much greater equality than 30 years ago, there is still unequal access and opportunity, and the government is committed to addressing these challenges head-on,” he said. Moreover, Katjavivi said Namibia is also experiencing lower voter turnout, youth disaffection, disinformation on social media and increasing levels of violence against women and children.
These challenges, he added, are common to many countries, as revealed by a recent IPU report.
“The constant flow of unverified information, particularly on social media, does harm to our societies and undermines the credibility of governments and parliaments,” said the Speaker.
It is, therefore, crucial that the IPU intensifies its efforts to be accessible to citizens, and deliver the services of parliament in more innovative