It is foremost about dignity

11 December 2019 | Columns

Human Rights Day came and went yesterday with the usual speeches and soliloquies.

In the Namibian context, 30 years of democracy has not brought to fruition the immense hope that ordinary citizens had for a better life in our resource-rich nation. Far too many Namibians are living in squalor and without jobs, and instead of reaching for the stars, are being subjected to a daily battle for survival. In our context, human rights mean much more than simply clinging to the chest inherent and inalienable rights that are practiced without discrimination.

Human rights may encompass the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more, but here in Namibia it starts indelibly with the right to dignity.

Having come from a divided past, where the playing field was rigged based on race, Namibia has a long way to go before it can truly say that all her children have had their dignity restored.

This year has been a critical one in that regard, because of what happened during the 2019 general election on 27 November. It must now be obvious to the powers that be that cheap politicking and sweet, yet unfulfilled promises, will result in a realignment in political power.

Hence, 2020 will be a key year for both the ruling party and the opposition, given that new forces will be at play when it comes to the local and regional authority elections.

It is true that 2019 finally marked a contestation around ideas, and not the simplistic liberation struggle politics that used to carry the day. More importantly, governing well and in the interest of citizens has become paramount.

The unrequited hunger for dignity will play an increasingly important role in our nation, so the political will to accomplish simple tasks like creating jobs and giving Namibians decent housing will become the measurement of whether parties will stay in power or not.

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