By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK “Blind loyalty and divine worship of elected leaders have no place in democracy and is an abomination!” These were sentiments of Bishop Zephaniah Kameeta who last Friday lambasted pompous leaders in society who overlook those low in their communities. During the launch of the second edition of the Guide to Namibian Politics, Kameeta stated there seems to be a grave misunderstanding among some people that after elections and attaining of certain high offices, people do change from normal human beings to super-humans. This, the bishop says, should never be the case and it does not benefit anyone including the occupier of the position but discredits such a person, leading to his or her downfall. “Let us be what we have been before attaining new positions. What is important is the work to be done in the position I am occupying. My relationship with people remains the same … and I should not look down on anyone, not even the street sweepers of our towns. These are unique characteristics of great leaders,” he strongly advised. He commended the Namibia Institute of Democracy (NID) for their involvement in producing a book that gives insights into the career background of the country’s political representatives. He recommended that this edition be distributed widely for all Namibians to read. Democracy and ignorance about the government system, civil society and the leading personalities can be disastrous. For democracy to take root and thrive, according to the former deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, constant education and participation of citizens are indispensable ingredients and bases for justice, peace and development of all the citizens without any discrimination. “Development and prosperity will never be achieved in an atmosphere of mistrust, disunity, fear and animosity. We can forget about Vision 2030 if we are not ready to do away with these stumbling blocks in the way of peace and stability,” he warned. There are too many more important things at stake than the little squabbles and quarrels and Namibians cannot allow the present and the future of the country and children to be sacrificed at the altar of what he termed “nonsense”. Meanwhile, author of the book Graham Hopwood stated during the launch that Namibians are often said not to have a reading culture and that books rarely find a market because of this. In light of this widely held view, he says he was surprised by the warm and enthusiastic reception that the first edition of the Guide to Namibian Politics received. “There seemed to be a hunger for this kind of information and the first guide gave them an opportunity to find out who their leaders were,” which according to Hopwood is clear that the book could be an educational tool, particularly for the younger generation whose conception of Namibia’s political history often appears hazy. This new edition has been revised to take in the post-2004 political landscape, including the changes after the 2004 elections and the new government in 2005. The “Issues” chapter has been rewritten so that it is now based on the parties’ 2004 election manifestos and a new chapter has been added on civil society. “The A to Z of Political Personalities” features almost 50 new profiles – mainly of new elected politicians, but also importantly more civil society activists. About 40 political profiles were dropped from the first edition and these were mostly politicians who retired or did not return to the National Assembly or National Council. Most of the profiles in the book are based on biographical information from political figures themselves, press cuttings and information drawn from books on Namibia’s recent political history. “The most important feature in the new book is the emphasis on civil society. This was neglected in the first edition and I would like to think that the new edition puts civil society in its rightful place – at the heart of the political scene. Since the first edition was published civil society has become more visible and active and there is clear evidence that it is starting to play a crucial role in Namibia’s democracy,” said Hopwood.
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