There is no doubt that our fairly young democracy has been put to the test in the run-up to the Presidential and National Assembly elections billed for next week. In any democratic dispensation, elections are classified as a central feature of democracy. Therefore the emphasis on holding free and fair elections should not only be seen as a catchphrase to appease poll observers, the media and civil society, among others, but all peace-loving Namibians should promote it.
‘Free’ means eligible voters have the right to be registered and must be free to make their choice through voting. ‘Fair’ means all registered parties have an equal right to contest and campaign for support ahead of elections.
In fact, our constitution guarantees the right to political activity. Article 21 (e) guarantees the right to freedom of association, which shall include freedom to form and join associations or unions, including trade unions and political parties.
For many, next week’s general election is the most interesting for the people of Namibia since the first democratic vote in 1989. Although the campaigns have been heated, they have been smooth, considering that there has been no sporadic violence among political rivals and their supporters.
However, we are not entirely impressed with the manner in which some parties and their faithful have conducted themselves. Despite calls for peace and tolerance during the campaign period, it is sad to note that this was hardly emphasised by political leaders.
Elections by nature should not be about personalities, but a platform to promote the battle of ideas. “Let us all focus on issues and election manifestos. Let the true character of our nation be revealed in the maturity of our debates,” Founding President Sam Nujoma rightly put it while addressing a rally at Oshikuku recently.
With over 1,3 million voters registered to participate in the election, there is no doubt that Namibians are committed to democracy and upholding the rule of law. It is thus incumbent of political parties and candidates vying for office to devise mechanisms that focus on issue-based election campaigning.
The country needs diverse views to grapple with, considering our many challenges in areas such as education, healthcare, high levels of inequality, poverty and the bane of unemployment, which has reached critical levels.
The challenges befalling our nation are plenty and should never be overshadowed by politics of personality. In other words, policies more than personalities must drive the course of the campaign season.
It is thus our sincere hope that persistent challenges and issues affecting ordinary Namibians will not be overlooked as parties and candidates prepare to go for the jugular in their frantic push for votes this weekend.
Lastly, Namibians should be applauded for behaving during the campaign season and we hope that this admirable show of tolerance and peace will continue to before and after 27 November.
2019-11-22 08:11:19 | 16 days ago