Civil society crucial for democracy

21 November 2018 | Columns

For a nation that is trapped in victimhood when it comes to fighting corruption, holding leaders accountable or simply advocating for the rights of ordinary people, the impact of a having a robust civil society cannot be overemphasised. Just like the media, civic organisations must become the last line of defence in terms of fighting for the interests of the voiceless, as thousands of Namibian families still languish in abject poverty. We have in the past highlighted how lethargic civil society has become, not only in terms of generating public discussion and advocacy around issues of crucial importance, but also when it comes to tackling the evils of corruption in both the private and public sectors. It is sad that so many civil society organisations are now rendered dormant and unable to discharge their mandates and agendas effectively, because of a lack of funding. By their very nature, civil society and the media play a crucial role in any democracy, including through monitoring the conduct of government officials and fighting for social justice. An effective media and civil society also influences government policies in favour of poor and marginalised communities. Civil society can therefore not sit idle and allow corruption and other forms of social injustices to manifest itself in the country. In South Africa, civil society has strengthened that country’s democracy, whether we like it or not. They have an admirable system of checks and balances, which is unparalleled on this continent. Back home, glaring cases of corruption have disappeared into thin air, with well-connected politicians and officials getting away scot-free in the process. We must therefore embrace pressure groups advocating for social justice, because the fight today is about ensuring accountability, economic justice and improved service delivery in all the sectors of our economy.

A thriving civil society contributes immensely to this battle.

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