‘Namibian elections a festival of democracy’
Windhoek – South Africa’s Minister for International Relations and Co-operation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has described the upcoming Namibian Presidential and National Assembly elections as “a festival of the country’s democracy for Namibian people”.
Nkoana-Mashabane expressed her admiration of Namibia’s continued commitment to multiparty democracy, by holding successive free and fair elections since independence. She added that the southern African country that will hold its fifth democratic elections since independence in March 1990, is “a young and vibrant democracy with strong democratic values and norms”.
The South African minister made the analysis on November 10 while officially launching the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observers Mission (SEOM) to Namibia’s general elections.
“This, the 5th national democratic elections since independence in 1990, is significant and bears testament to consistent democratic practice of holding regular elections,” said the minister.
“The people of Namibia have shown commitment to multiparty democracy, and elections are an important exercise in pluralism and are an essential element in the democratic process”.
She thanked the government and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) for the invitation, while noting that the electoral process is fundamental to any competitive democracy as it allows eligible voters to express their political will and choice.
“The upcoming electoral process therefore capacitates and enables the voters to own and identify with a democratic political system, and its structures and institutions,” she said.
Nkoana-Mashabane heads the 90-member SADC electoral observation team, which is in the country to witness the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for November 28.
“SEOM is in Namibia to witness the election and we believe that the people of Namibia, as has been the case in the past, will successfully undertake this electoral process,” she said. “Notwithstanding the fact that elections are a competitive activity, SADC encourages the people of Namibia and the political and electoral stakeholders to exercise political tolerance.”
Nkoana-Mashabane indicated that SADC, through SEOM, reaffirms its commitment and support to the people of Namibia and will work towards ensuring a smooth electoral process.“At this stage, the mission seeks to encourage the electoral stakeholders to this election to ensure that the electoral process serves the people of Namibia with provisions responding to the facilitation of fundamental human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution, the promotion of equality, mutual security and respect for human dignity,” said the minister.
She also took cognisant of the Constitutional amendments and the new Electoral Act that will govern this month’s elections.
“The SEOM engagements and observation process is guided first and foremost by the Constitution of a country holding an election and the electoral laws of that country.
“And secondly, by regional legal provisions and frameworks as well as international norms to ensure democracy and good governance in a member state,” said the head of SADC observation mission.
After the launch at a local hotel, members of SEOM underwent a two-day training, which is part of the usual pre-deployment training exercise by the SADC Secretariat to ensure that the observers have common understanding of what is expected of them.
Members of the observation team will be deployed to all the country’s 14 regions. SEOM will issue its preliminary statement about the Namibian electoral process on November 30.
Namibia is last of five SADC member states who had elections scheduled for this year, which started with the general elections in South Africa and Malawi in May, followed by Mozambique and Botswana in October.