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Last Updated:22 May 2014
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Democracy and Elections in Namibia
 Namibia is a democracy. Yes, definitely. The Republic of Namibia, “established as a sovereign, secular, democratic and unitary State founded upon the principles of democracy, the rule of law and justice for all” (Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, Article 1(1)).
Democracy is a government that gives its people the opportunity to choose political parties and candidates of their choice, based on promises and undertakings made by such parties and candidates. These choices are done by voting in elections. People vote government into power to run the affairs of the country and also to make laws and policies on their behalf. Government should make laws based on the rules set down in the Constitution. Furthermore, Government must be accountable to the people.
The following principles often become part of the Constitution or governance in a democratic society:
a) Citizen participation
It is a duty of all citizens to:
- be involved and become informed about issues debating them through available platform,
- vote in elections,
- pay rates + taxes,
- and protesting peacefully when necessary.
Citizen participation ensures that leaders or representatives do not abuse their power.
b) Equality
All people are equal before the law. No individual or group of people may be discriminated against because of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or political affiliation.
c) Human Rights
Human Rights are generally accepted principles of fairness and justice. They are moral rights that belong equally to all people simply because they are human beings. Human Rights are generally divided into:
i) Civil rights
Civil rights include the right to liberty; to equality; to practice religion or not, as a matter of choice. They include the right not to be assaulted or tortured; not to be detained without trial; the right to a fair trial and the right not to be killed.
ii) Political Rights
These include the right to belong to or sympathize with a political party; to vote in elections; the freedoms of thought, expression, speech, information, association and assembly.
iii) Social Rights
Social rights include freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity, religion or sexual preference; the right to marry and have a family; the right to privacy, recreation, education and health care.
iv) Economic Rights
Economic rights include the right to work, housing and adequate standard of living and the right to access safety nets.
d) Bill of Rights
These are dealt with by the section in the Constitution that lists the fundamental human rights and freedoms. Chapter 3 of the Namibian Constitution clearly stipulates the fundamental human rights and freedoms. The fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and organs of the government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Namibia and shall be enforced by the Courts in the manner hereinafter prescribed.
Article 5 Protection of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms
Article 6 Protection of Life
Article 7 Protection of Liberty
Article 8 Respect of Human Dignity
Article 9 Slavery and Forced Labour
Article 10 Equality and Freedom from Discrimination
Article 11 Arrest and Detention
Article 12 Fair Trial
Article 13 Privacy
Article 14 Family
Article 15 Children’s Rights
Article 16 Property
Article 17 Political Activity
Article 18 Administrative Justice
Article 19 Culture
Article 20 Education
Article 21 Fundamental Freedoms
Article 22 Limitation upon Fundamental Rights and Freedoms
Article 23 Apartheid and Affirmative Action
Article 24 Derogation
Article 25 Enforcement of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms
e) Rule of Law
All persons in the country are subjected to the same known, fair and impartial laws and they will all be held accountable if they violate those laws.
f) Political Tolerance
Political tolerance refers to the willingness of all individuals and groups to accept, respect, and actively defend the democratic right of others; It refers to individuals and groups to allow others to hold and express opinions, however unpopular, as long as the expressions of such opinions do not infringe on the rights of others.
g) Free Exchange of Ideas
This aspect includes the freedom of individuals to express their own political views and positions on specific issues.
h) Accountability
All able persons should be accountable of their actions in any society. In addition, in a democracy, elected and appointed officials are expected to discharge their duties properly and in accordance with the law and they will be held accountable for their actions. One of the ways elected officials are held accountable is through regular elections.
i) Transparency
It is a necessary condition for accountability.
It refers to the openness with which public affairs are conducted, especially with regard to the decisions, actions and even motives of government.
It implies an obligation on government to provide its citizens with information about what is being done on their behalf.
j) Regular, free and fair elections
Regular, free and fair elections allows citizens to express their will and choose officials to represent them in government. Regular elections are essential so that elected officials know that they will be held accountable and can be removed from office.
k) Multiparty system
This is political system, which provides for a formal mechanism for the expression of a diversity of views in government. In a multiparty system it is allowed for ongoing opposition to the party in government, and an open competition in elections.
l) Economic freedom
Economic freedom refers to the right of ownership of property and business and the right of people to choose their work and join labour unions.
m) Freedom of mass media
This means that the media should be free from control of government or other powerful interest in society. It should have the right to freedom of expression, which is given to individuals under the constitution.
3. Democratic Elections
Democratic elections must be:
i) Competitive
All parties and candidates must enjoy freedom of speech, assembly and movement to be able to voice their criticisms of the government freely and openly and to offer alternative policies to
ii) Periodic
Elections must be held at prescribed intervals in order for the elected officials to seek new mandates to continue in the office and to accept the possibility of being voted out of the
iii) Inclusive
(a) the voters
Definition of an eligible voter must be broad enough to include as large a portion of the
adult population as possible, to make the elected government most representative.
b) The parties/candidates
Elections must be held in a climate that allows all political parties/candidates that wish to participate an opportunity to test their popularity with the people.
iv) Definitive
A democratic election is an expression of the will of the people. It is therefore every citizen’s responsibility to vote.

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