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Namibia Politics

State and politics

Namibia became the last African colony to become independent in 1990 after a long armed struggle against the South African occupation power. After the First World War, South Africa was mandated to manage the former German colony. This right was removed by the UN General Assembly in 1966, but the South African apartheid regime refused to relinquish control of what was then called South West Africa. Since then, the country has been ruled by the former liberation movement SWAPO.

Political System of Namibia

GOVERNMENT

The 1990 Constitution of the Republic of Namibia states that the country should be a multi-party democracy based on universal suffrage, have an independent judiciary and respect for fundamental human rights.

The executive power is held by the president and the cabinet nominated by the president. This consists of the President, the Prime Minister and Ministers appointed by the President among the members of the National Assembly. The president is elected by simple majority in general and direct elections for a period of five years. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how NA can stand for Namibia.

The legislative power is exercised by a parliament with two chambers. The National Assembly has 104 members, eight of whom are appointed by the president. The term of office is five years. The National Council, with three members each from the country's 14 regions, examines the laws adopted by the National Assembly and makes recommendations on regional development. The members are appointed for a term of six years by regional councils.

Policy

The seven-member Constituent Assembly elected in November 1989 became the country's parliament at independence in March 1990. The South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) with Sam Nujoma as chairman was by far the largest party and has retained its majority in all elections since then. During most of this period, SWAPO has had a qualified majority (more than 2/3), which has made it possible to enforce constitutional changes without the support of other parties.

The largest opposition party of all time has been the Conservative Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), formed in 1977 with the support of the apartheid regime in South Africa. With a voter support of about 20 percent, the party was by far the largest opposition party in 1989 and 1994. After four elections with significantly worse results, the party changed its name to Popular Democratic Movement (PDM). In the 2019 election, the party received 16 seats, that is, just over three times as many as five years earlier.

The only parties that have conquered more than a single term are the Social Democratic Congress of Democrats (COD), which was the second largest in the 1999 and 2004 elections, and the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), which received 11 percent of the vote in 2009. Both of these parties were formed. by politicians who left SWAPO.

The same goes for Landless People's Movement (LPM), founded in 2018, which is described as progressive and collected just under 5 percent of the vote in the 2019 election. Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), with strong ties to the populist South African party Economic Freedom Fighters, a former SWAPO member.

SWAPO's candidates have won an overwhelming majority in all presidential elections. Before the 1999 elections, SWAPO used its two-thirds majority to bypass the Constitution's constitution that the president can be re-elected only once, arguing that he took up his first term before the country's independence. Nujoma received 77 percent of the vote. After long discussions about a further extension, President Nujoma surprisingly declared in 2004 that he did not stand for re-election. He was succeeded by his trusted Hifikepunye Pohamba, who was elected with 76 percent of the vote; he received an equal share of the votes in the 2009 elections.

After sitting for two presidential terms, Pohamba was unable to stand in the 2014 presidential election. Instead, Prime Minister Hage Geingob was appointed SWAPO's candidate. He received 87 percent of the vote. Geingob was the first independent prime minister of Namibia (1990–2002). He has also been Minister of Trade and Industry and was again elected Prime Minister in 2012.

Geingob was re-elected in 2019 but with much weaker support (56 percent of the vote) than SWAPO's candidates previously received. For the first time since 1994, a counter candidate received more than 20 percent of the vote. Panduleni Itula (born 1957) is a member of the ruling party and was elected as an independent candidate, which brought bad blood within SWAPO. 29 percent of voters, many of them young people, cast their votes on Itula.

At the beginning of independence, the political discussion revolved around the issue of SWAPO's possible abuse of human rights during the liberation struggle. SWAPO's dominance has led to the party being later accused of imperfection. The country is sometimes described as a one-party democracy. Since the mid-1990s, the nationalist-oriented SWAPO and government-run media have been campaigning both against gays and against foreigners.

The most serious domestic policy issue has been the demands for independence in the Caprivi Strip in the northeast corner of the country. In 1999, disputes erupted, and during the judicial aftermath, the regime has been accused of subjecting the accused to abuses and torture. Ten people were sentenced in 2007 to long prison terms for high treason.

Other important domestic policy issues are unemployment, economic inequality and the demands of land reform.

In foreign policy, Namibia has taken an active part in regional cooperation in southern Africa, including as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Alongside Angola and Zimbabwe, Namibia sent troops to Congo (Kinshasa) in 1998–2001 to support Laurent Kabila's government troops against rebels.

Judiciary

After independence in 1990, Namibia began to build its own judicial system and its own judicial system, but the basis for substantive law is largely the South African legal heritage. The highest authority is the Supreme Court (Supreme Court). There is also a Swedish-inspired Ombudsman. The death penalty was abolished in 1990; the last known execution took place in 1988.

Heads of State

Presidents

1990-2005 Sam Nujoma
2005-15 Hifikepunye Pohamba
2015- Hage Geingob
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