Young Namibians call for strengthened democracy

Revitalise democracy in digital age
Only 56% of Namibians prefer democracy as the preferred type of government above any other, Afrobarometer data shows.
Jemimah Ndebele
Jemimah Ndebele

The need for opportunity creation to accommodate and educate the youth on democracy and to increase their participation was voiced by various youth leaders at the recently held Strengthening Democracy conference that took place at the Safari Court Hotel.

The conference, which took place on 22 June, highlighted various elements that pointed to a decline in public trust of the government.

The aim of the conference was not only to reflect upon worrying aspects of democracy in Namibia, but also to discuss what can and should be done, and by whom, to deepen and strengthen democracy in Namibia.

Additionally, understanding this has become more urgent since there are concerns over the growing indifference to civic participation among young people.

“We as the disabled youth do not participate in civic matters because we are suffering and do not have access to tertiary institutions. We are not given platforms to participate and instead of participating, we are more focused on survival,” said Selma Moses, a sign language interpreter who spoke as a youth representative.

Make it alive

Furthermore, the panel representing the youth at the conference under the theme ‘So, this is democracy?’, also looked at the legal aspect of ­democracy and how it affects the youth.

“The law is dead unless you make it come alive and, at the moment, as young people we need to make the law come alive for it to speak to us. One of the ways we can do that is to digitalise how the law speaks to us, our contemporary norms, and our contemporary values and how it speaks to our governing systems and institutions. I think we as young people need to develop systems where we take the law to digital platforms and engage with it to stay alive and promote democracy.

“Practically speaking, mere engagements on Twitter and Instagram can go a long way and it starts with us legal scholars who truly understand the law and its nuances to lead these conversations,” candidate attorney and virtual LLM candidate, Wayne Rukero, said.

Only 56% of Namibians still view democracy as the preferred form of government above any other, Afrobarometer data shows.

Head of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Graham Hopwood, said Namibian citizens are losing confidence in government and the authorities and are frustrated that they are “not delivering”.

The IPPR hosted the talks last week.

To strengthen Namibian democracy, the role of the media and civil societies is also important, he said.