Democratic election is impossible without media

Erasmus Shalihaxwe

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) views the media as one of the key stakeholders that plays a critical role, as a public educator, in assisting the ECN to enhance electoral democracy through robust voter and civic education.

Peter Shaama, the chief electoral and referenda officer for ECN, made this statement on Tuesday during the commissioned media engagement workshop in Windhoek.

He explained that the media is an open forum for debate and discussion to ensure that voters can educate other voters, politicians, and electoral staff.

“I am sure you agree with me that the media are essential instruments for democracy, and a democratic election is impossible without the media. A free and fair election is not only about the freedom to vote and the knowledge of how to cast a vote but also about a participatory process where voters engage in public debate and have adequate information about parties, policies, candidates, and the election process itself to make informed choices,” he said.

He believes that the media serves as a transparent mechanism, providing voters with the necessary information to fully evaluate the conduct of officials and the overall process.

He added that the media is also a campaign platform to ensure the public is educated on the political agendas of all participating parties and candidates equally.

“In order to fulfil the aforementioned roles, the media need to maintain a high level of professionalism, accuracy, and impartiality in their coverage during the electoral process, including the conduct of voter and civic education, general registration of voters, and presidential and national assembly elections scheduled for the year 2024,” urged Shaama.

As prioritised in the electoral calendar, the ECN values engagement with its key stakeholders as a crucial endeavour towards ensuring a free, fair, and transparent electoral process.

He further added that considering the most crucial electoral activities that lie ahead, such as general voter registration and polling, these events require efficient and effective planning, coordination, and execution.

Shama added that during this time, those abilities are tested as stakeholders, and ECN has been accorded the opportunity to enable citizens, with the assistance of the media, to exercise their democratic rights and shape the future of the nation.

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