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NAMIBIA
Society

Society

State structure

Namibia is a parliamentary democracy. The head of state is elected directly by the people for five years and is eligible for re-election once. The constitution was amended in 1998 to allow for a third term for the first president. The president appoints the prime minister and members of the cabinet, and other key officials. The parliament consists of the National Assembly and the National Council. The National Assembly has 72 members, plus 8 non-voting members appointed by the President. The 72 members of the National Assembly are elected by the people for a five-year term. The 26 members of the National Council are elected by regional councils for another five-year term. The Assembly is obliged to consider Council amendments to legislation, but can overturn rejection of a law by a two-thirds majority.

The 1990 Constitution provides a strong foundation for the Namibian rule of law. The enforcement of fundamental human rights is enshrined in Chapter 3 of the Constitution; not even the full Parliament can question the content of this chapter. The judiciary is independent.

Politics

In Namibia, since independence, the following two aspirations have underpinned the actions of the government:

- the pursuit of national reconciliation; and

- the transformation to a democratic, market-oriented society.

Namibia has enjoyed a high degree of political and social stability in recent years. The apartheid regime still leaves its traces, and the differences between rich and poor remain enormous. Nevertheless, there has been relatively little racial tension or social protest. However, the government regularly demonstrates an intolerant attitude towards a diversity of groups displaying 'disagreeable behaviour', including homosexuals, Afrikaans speakers, (foreign) judges and the press.

The government's main priorities are fighting poverty and inequality, creating employment, stimulating economic growth and diversification and fighting HIV/AIDS.

A growing concern is land reform. In February 2004, the government announced that it would officially begin accelerated expropriation of farms and land from white commercial farmers. In 2005, the first forced expropriation took place under the government's land reform policy.

After winning a large majority of votes in the December 1999 presidential and parliamentary elections, the largest political party, the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO), again consolidated its power base in the November 2004 presidential and parliamentary elections. After a three term government under President Sam Nujoma, the latest elections saw SWAPO presidential candidate Hifikepunye Pohamba elected President of Namibia at the party's congress in May 2004.

After a long history of pro-South African politics, the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance of Namibia (DTA) was for a long time the largest opposition party, in the last elections it was overtaken by the newly formed political party Congress of Democrats (COD) led by Mr. Ben Ulenga. This former ambassador left SWAPO, dissatisfied with the increasingly arbitrary behaviour of the President and the ruling party, after the ruling party used its two-thirds majority in October 1998 to make a third term in office constitutionally possible for President Nujoma. However, COD's gains come mainly from former DTA supporters and pose no threat to the still all-powerful SWAPO. The other opposition parties operate on a narrow or ethnic basis and are too small to play a significant role.

The current political situation is described in the history section.

Economy

The most characteristic feature of Namibia's economy is the dichotomy in economic opportunity and standard of living between a small, predominantly white minority on the one hand, and the vast majority of the indigenous population on the other. Namibia has a very skewed income distribution.

The economy has a one-sided character. The profitable sectors are mainly capital-intensive, especially mining. The large reserves of natural resources such as diamonds, uranium, gold and copper provide a large part of all export income. Industry provides 26% of GDP, 14% of the population is employed in this sector. In 2017, 31% of the population was employed in agriculture, while this sector provides only 6.7% of GDP. The services sector provides 67% of GNP, 54% of the population is employed in this sector. Approximately one third of the population is unemployed and this problem is exacerbated by the annual group of school leavers, for whom there is hardly any work.

The government's financial and economic policies in recent years have been prudent and largely successful. The budget deficit for 2013 is estimated at 5.5% of GDP. The debt for 2017 will be 41.3% of GNP. Inflation has fairly stabilised at 6.1%. There is a slight economic growth of about 1% per year (-0.5% in 2017). South Africa's economic dependence is still very high and makes it vulnerable. Also due to its very limited domestic market, Namibia has a strong interest in an export-oriented policy. The government is encouraging this by creating attractive investment and production conditions. The Walvis Bay port is intended to play a role as a gateway for the whole of Southern Africa.


Sources

Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info