Our ‘rededication’ to greater access and free expression

We take up the message of ‘rededication’ and renew our efforts to ensure betterment where we can influence towards achieving it

President Hage Geingob has anointed 2017 as ‘The Year of Rededication’, to the ideal of the ‘Namibian House’ in which no-one is supposedly left out.

It sounds worthwhile. It sounds goal-oriented. It sounds like a theme to emulate.

So, the ACTION Coalition has also decided to rededicate itself to the various democracy and human rights causes that access to information and freedom of expression speak to most directly.

Thus, we rededicate ourselves to a standard of democratic practice that understands and appreciates that true democracy is not lived through symbolic elections ahead of which masses of ill- and under informed political constituencies are emotionally manipulated to support a party political platform largely wrapped in nostalgic of a once great past.

And exploiting wide spread ignorance to capture votes along hard ethnic lines is a practice we wish to see disappear from the political landscape altogether.

Access to information and freedom of expression are at the heart of real democratic practice, which would see a political landscape of active citizens’ participation and lively debate of the issues affecting society, not just immediately before elections, but all the time. This would be a political landscape built on appreciation for debate and criticism and collective consensus reaching, as far as that is possible, without fear of being silenced or frowned upon by political forces themselves fearful of critical engagement and questioning.

We rededicate ourselves to working towards the installation of an accountable and transparent state responsive to the demands of the people and acting in their interest.

Instilling a culture of openness would, in our belief, go a long way in creating such a state. Access to information is the door through which we will open up the promise of such a state.

We rededicate ourselves to fostering understanding of the significance of access to information and freedom of expression in the national developmental drive. This we do in support of the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda which implicitly recognizes that access to information and freedom of expression are important ingredients in achieving overarching developmental outcomes and that silencing or ignoring stakeholders or top-down approaches have failed to produce optimal well-being outcomes, whether for people or their and the earth’s environments and ecosystems.

We rededicate ourselves to the maintenance of an Internet that is open and accessible to everyone and support initiatives that seek to expand connectivity. We recognize that the Internet has become an important platform to disseminate information far and wide, that it has the potential to uplift many, that maintaining it securely and enhancing its stability is an economic, social and political imperative, that it promises to be an unprecedented educational bridge and knowledge amplifier, and that it holds the potential to unlock a prosperous future for the still marginalized many.

We rededicate ourselves to confronting and calling out elements and forces, in both the public and private spheres, that seek to operate in secrecy and confidentiality and see themselves as unaccountable to anyone. These elements and actors are the corrupt and criminal.

We rededicate ourselves to the minimizing of violence and conflict through the promotion of dialogue as a much more constructive alternative and a time-tested means to building bridges of understanding. In a world which is already too violence afflicted and polarized, meaningful dialogue and debate of divisive issues is the only way that lasting solutions will be found and entrenched.

Ultimately, what the sum of our rededication amounts to is the notion of an optimally functioning information-flow and free expression environment, with minimized aggressions and muted conflicts, that serves all our interests, and especially those of the most vulnerable and marginalized amongst us.

That said, we rededicate ourselves to working towards everyone being better off, safe and able to uplift themselves.

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