Namibia 7th among African democracies

03 February 2020 | Politics


While still labelled as having a flawed democracy, Namibia is ranked as one of the top ten most democratic countries in in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the newly released Democracy Index 2019: A Year Of Democratic Setbacks and Popular Protests, Namibia is ranked as the seventh most democratic country in Sub-Saharan Africa and 65th among 167 countries worldwide. It maintained the same position as in 2018 in the sub-region, but moved up two places in the world ranking.

Namibia obtained an overall score of 6.43 based on the country's electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of the government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties.

Namibia scored the highest in the categories of civil liberties (7.94) and political participation (6.67).

Its lowest scores were for a political culture (5.63) and for a functioning government (5.36).

Namibia's overall score has increased from 6.25 in 2018 to 6.43 last year. The country obtained its best score in 2006, when it stood at 6.54.

Mauritius again topped the index in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region, followed by Botswana, Cabo Verde, South Africa, Ghana and Lesotho.

Mauritius is also the only country in the region that was categorised as having a full democracy.

The poorest performing country in the region was the DRC, with an authoritarian democracy.

The report says the state of democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa has remained poor over the years.

According to the index Sub-Saharan Africa, which is characterised by authoritarian regimes, experienced a significant democratic regression in 2019.

The region's overall average score in the index fell to 4.26 in 2019, from 4.36 in 2018.

“This is the lowest average score for Sub-Saharan Africa since 2010, in the aftermath of the global economic and financial crisis, when every region of the world registered a democratic regression in the Democracy Index.

“This regional deterioration was primarily the consequence of declining scores for many countries in the category of electoral process and pluralism; the average regional category score fell to 3.99 from 4.30 in 2018.”

The index says 23 countries in the region registered a decline in their scores, and 11 offset marginal improvements.

Reflecting slightly lower political participation on a regional level, the index says that this was driven by declines in voter turnout in recently held elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (47.6%; December 2018), Benin (22.99%; April 2019) and Namibia (60.8%; November 2019).

“These declines offset improvements as a result of higher female representation in the Malawian parliament, the increased participation of the population in lawful demonstrations in eSwatini, and an improved adult literacy rate in Zambia.”

The only countries that benefited from a strengthening of civil liberties were Madagascar (with its increased judicial independence) and Gambia, which has been transitioning towards democracy since 2017, after its first democratic transfer of power had been successfully completed.

The world's least democratic country is adjudged to be North Korea, just behind the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

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