WINDHOEK - Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi officially on Tuesday opened the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) conference that is being hosted by Namibia.
The conference with the theme “Inclusive democracy for sustainable development,” that ran from yesterday until today intends to promote integration of marginalized groups, inclusiveness and sustainable development through strengthened democratic processes.
It would include roundtable discussions on pertinent issues such as democratic principles, women’s economic empowerment and inclusion and the mainstreaming of people living with disabilities, among many others.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Katjavivi said Namibia attaches great importance to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that they form part of government development policies.
“As a member of the United Nations, we were closely involved in the development of the Millennium Development Goals. Our founding father, Dr Sam Nujoma, was co-chairperson of the MDG Conference. We incorporated the MDGs into our development plans and we are doing the same with the UN Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015,” emphasized the Speaker. According to Katjavivi there has been progress in meeting development targets in health, education, poverty reduction and the socio-economic empowerment of marginalized people. He noted that the education and health sectors get the lion’s share of the national budget annually while education is free.
Katjavivi further cited the new education bill recently approved by the National Assembly, as one of many important considerations aimed at meeting SDG targets. The bill is currently with the National Council for final approval.
Katjavivi also lauded Namibia’s democracy and governance. “We have held five parliamentary and presidential elections since independence in 1990. All these elections were accepted by international and regional observers as free and fair. Next year we will hold our sixth, proving that Namibia is committed to regular and credible elections,” said Katjavivi.
On governance, Katjavivi stated that Namibia was ranked fifth on the African continent for transparency by the Mo Ibrahim index and third in Africa by Transparency International. Namibia has further made strides in gender equality and representation with an increase from 25 percent to 47 percent of women MPs from 2010 to 2015. Women further represent 40 percent of the national executive and 43 percent of the public service management.
Former Belgian prime minister and current IDEA secretary general, Yves Leterme, who also spoke at the event, bemoaned what he termed emerging isolationist policies of leading democracies in the world, adding that such tendencies have the potential to disrupt sustainable development.
“We are faced with challenges of isolationism and the rise of nationalism and populism even in societies that used to be open and so-called leading democracies. These nations are pulling out of multilateral agreements, a situation that is not sustainable,” warned Leterme.
He exhorted policymakers to base their dialogue and policymaking decisions on evidence, noting that democracy was under threat and that more needs to be done.
“This is the time when democracy is challenged. We need to be inclusive and accountable in order to be able to deliver. In the age of so-called fake news, we have to base our dialogue, debates and policymaking on facts and figures,” stated the secretary general.
IDEA is an intergovernmental organization that supports democratic institutions and processes around the world to develop sustainable, effective and legitimate democracies.
• George Sanzila works as Chief Information Officer in the Division: Research, Information, Publications and Editorial Services at the National Assembly.
New Era Reporter
2018-11-28 10:48:24 2 months ago