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Supreme Court’s silence worrisome
Namibia must be a country of responsive institutions. Opposition activists have been demonstrating since last Sunday in search of a verdict that that has been pending at the Supreme Court since October last year.
They are not asking the court to rule in their favour. Also, they are not demanding the verdict to be read out today or tomorrow. They simply want an indication as to when the court is likely to deliver judgment.
In truth, this is a fair request – considering the length of time that passed since October last year. Other institutions such as the Namibian Police and officials at Parliament have been more active than the Supreme Court to whom the opposition’s demands are directed.
In a functioning democracy, you’d expect a court official – maybe the registrar – to address those demonstrating. Court Registrar Elsie Schickerling issued a statement about two years ago when the opposition threatened not to partake in the 2010 local and regional authorities elections.
Of course it was a ridiculous threat at the time, but we can hardly say the same currently – two years on.
Keeping fellow citizens in the cold for almost a week without giving them audience defeats the accountability. And we are talking about citizens – some of whom have travelled from far regions - who merely want to know how much longer they’ll have to wait for the verdict.
The deafening silence by the Supreme Court violates standard models of democratic accountability.
Judges and chief justices are not called ‘My Lord’ for nothing. They carry ‘divine’ responsibilities of administering justice for the greater good of society.
Successful leaders have an obligation to respond to others in a way that takes into account the needs of all the people concerned. The election verdict does not only concern those in the opposition.
It is a matter of national interest.
It concerns even those that are apolitical.
Those dealing with this matter have a responsibility to build respect and trust for the Supreme Court – the highest judicial institution in the land.
This is the last court of recourse for any citizen. It’s too important an institution to turn a blind eye when citizens ask it for some form of assurance.
The ‘Lords’ at this court know this very well. And, armed with that knowledge, citizens expect them to naturally know the basics of democracy and accountability.