Politics of Namibia

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Namibia

Politics of Namibia takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Namibia is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Constitution[edit]

The Constituent Assembly of Namibia produced a constitution which established a multi-party system and a bill of rights. It also limited the executive president to two five-year terms and provided for the private ownership of property. The three branches of government are subject to checks and balances, and a provision is made for judicial review. The constitution also states that Namibia should have a mixed economy, and foreign investment should be encouraged.

The constitution is noted for being one of the first to incorporate protection of the environment into its text. Namibia is a democratic but one party dominant state with the South-West Africa People's Organisation in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.

While the ethnic-based, three-tier, South African-imposed governing authorities have been dissolved, the current government pledged for the sake of national reconciliation to retain civil servants employed during the colonial period. The government is still organizing itself on both national and regional levels.

The Constituent Assembly converted itself into the National Assembly on February 16, 1990, retaining all the members elected on a straight party ticket.

President[edit]

Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of Namibia

The Namibian head of state is the president, elected by popular vote every five years. Namibia's founding president is Sam Nujoma, who was in office for three terms from 21 March 1990 (Namibia's Independence Day) until 21 March 2005. Since then, Hifikepunye Pohamba is President of Namibia. He is serving his second term.

Separation of powers[edit]

While the separation of powers is enshrined in the country's constitution, Namibia's civil society and the opposition repeatedly have criticised the overlap between executive and legislature. All cabinet members also sit in the National Assembly and dominate that body—not numerically but by being the superiors to ordinary members.[1]

Executive branch[edit]

Main article: Government of Namibia

The government is headed by the prime minister, who, together with his cabinet, is appointed by the president. SWAPO, the primary force behind independence, is still the country's largest party. Hage Geingob was Namibia's first Prime Minister. He was appointed on 21 March 1990 and served until 28 August 2002. Theo-Ben Gurirab was Prime Minister from 28 August 2002 to 21 March 2005, and Nahas Angula occupied this position from 21 March 2005 to 4 December 2012. Since then, Hage Geingob is again Prime Minister of Namibia.

Legislative branch[edit]

Main article: Parliament of Namibia

Parliament has two chambers. The National Assembly has 78 members, elected for a five-year term, 72 members elected by proportional representation and six members appointed by the president. The National Council has 26 representatives of the Regional Councils as members, elected for a six-year term. Every Regional Council in the 13 regions of Namibia elects two representatives to serve on this body. The Assembly is the primary legislative body, with the Council playing more of an advisory role. [2]

Judicial branch[edit]

The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court, whose judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission. The judicial structure in Namibia parallels that of South Africa. In 1919, Roman-Dutch law was declared the common law of the territory and remains so to the present.

Political parties and elections[edit]

For other political parties see List of political parties in Namibia. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Namibia.
e • d Summary of the 27-28 November 2009 Namibian presidential election results[3]
Candidate Party Votes %
Hifikepunye Pohamba SWAPO 611,241 75.25
Hidipo Hamutenya RDP 88,640 10.91
Katuutire Kaura Democratic Turnhalle Alliance 24,186 2.98
Kuaima Riruako NUDO 23,735 2.92
Justus ǁGaroëb United Democratic Front 19,258 2.37
Ignatius Shixwameni All People's Party 9,981 1.23
Henry Mudge Republican Party 9,425 1.16
Benjamin Ulenga Congress of Democrats 5,812 0.72
Usutuaije Maamberua SWANU 2,968 0.37
David Isaacs Democratic Party of Namibia 1,859 0.23
Frans Goagoseb Namibian Democratic Movement for Change 1,760 0.22
Attie Beukes Communist Party of Namibia 1,005 0.12
Rejected ballots 12,363 1.52
Total (turnout ) 812,233 100.00
e • d Summary of the 27 and 28 November 2009 National Assembly of Namibia election results
Parties Votes % Seats +/–
South West Africa People's Organization 602,580 74.29 54 Decrease1
Rally for Democracy and Progress 90,556 11.16 8 Increase8
Democratic Turnhalle Alliance 25,393 3.13 2 Decrease2
National Unity Democratic Organization 24,422 3.01 2 Decrease1
United Democratic Front 19,489 2.40 2 Decrease1
All People’s Party 10,795 1.33 1 Increase1
Republican Party 6,541 0.81 1
Congress of Democrats 5,375 0.66 1 Decrease4
South West Africa National Union 4,989 0.62 1 Increase1
Monitor Action Group 4,718 0.58 0 Decrease1
Democratic Party of Namibia 1,942 0.24 0
Namibian Democratic Movement for Change 1,770 0.22 0
National Democratic Party 1,187 0.15 0
Communist Party of Namibia 810 0.10 0
Appointed members
Valid votes 800,567 98.70
Invalid votes 10,576 1.30
Total (turnout %) 811,143 100.0 72
Source: Electoral Commission of Namibia

Elections were held in 1992, to elect members of 13 newly established Regional Councils, as well as new municipal officials. Two members from each Regional Council serve simultaneously as members of the National Council, the country's second house of Parliament. Nineteen of its members are from the ruling SWAPO party, and seven are from the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA). In December 1994, elections were held for the President and the National Assembly.

Namibia has about 40 political groups, ranging from modern political parties to traditional groups based on tribal authority. Some represent single tribes or ethnic groups while others encompass several. Most participate in political alliances, some of which are multiracial, with frequently shifting membership.

SWAPO is the ruling party, and all but one of the new government's first cabinet posts went to SWAPO members. A marxist-oriented movement, SWAPO has become more right wing and now espouses the need for a mixed economy. SWAPO has been a legal political party since its formation and was cautiously active in Namibia, although before implementation of the UN Plan, it was forbidden to hold meetings of more than 20 people, and its leadership was subject to frequent detention. In December 1976, the UN General Assembly recognized SWAPO as "the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people," a characterization other internal parties did not accept.

In the 1999 presidential and parliamentary elections, SWAPO continued its history of political dominance, taking 55 of the 72 Assembly seats, and returning President Sam Nujoma to the office for his third term. The principal opposition parties are the Congress of Democrats (CoD) and the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), with each possessing seven seats in the National Assembly.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Namibia is divided into 14 regions: Zambezi, Erongo, Hardap, !Karas, Kavango East, Kavango West, Khomas, Kunene, Ohangwena, Omaheke, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, and Otjozondjupa.[4]

International organization participation[edit]

Namibia is member of ACP, AfDB, C, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMEE, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sasman, Catherine (22 March 2013). "Mbumba’s presence in Cabinet under spotlight". The Namibian. 
  2. ^ "GRN Structure. The Legislature". Government of Namibia. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  3. ^ 27 - 28 Nov 2009 Presidential Elections.pdf Electoral Commission of Namibia
  4. ^ Nakale, Albertina (9 August 2013). "President divides Kavango into two". New Era (archived via allafrica.com).