Namibia: Government

Principal Government Officials

Chief of State: President Hifikepunye Pohamba
Head of Government: Prime Minister Nahas Angula

Namibia is a multiparty, multiracial democracy, with a president who is elected for 5-year term. The constitution establishes a bicameral Parliament and provides for general elections every 5 years and regional elections every 6 years. Members of the 72-seat National Assembly are elected on a party list system on a proportional basis. Members of the 26-seat National Council are elected from within popularly elected Regional Councils. The three branches of government are subject to checks and balances, and provision is made for judicial review. The judicial structure in Namibia comprises a Supreme Court, the High Court, and lower courts. Roman-Dutch law has been the common law of the territory since 1919. Namibia's unitary government is currently in the process of decentralization.

The constitution provides for the private ownership of property and for human rights protections, and states that Namibia should have a mixed economy and encourage foreign investment.

Sam Nujoma, leader of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), was President from Namibia's independence in 1990 until 2005 (a constitutional amendment permitted the founding president his third term). In November 2004, citizens elected Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Hifikepunye Pohamba to be the next President. Pohamba was re-elected in November 2009 for his second and final term in office. The inauguration was held in March 2010, in conjunction with celebrations marking the country's 20th anniversary.

Namibia's 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections were held on November 27-28. The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) released the official results on December 4. The ruling SWAPO party and incumbent President Pohamba won with 75% and 76% respectively. The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) won 11 % of the vote, the most by a single opposition party. While some procedural irregularities were observed, international and domestic observers pronounced the elections to be generally free and fair. The RDP, along with eight other opposition parties, however, claimed that ECN manipulated the election results and challenged the results in the High Court. On March 4, 2010, the High Court dismissed the petition on a technicality, but the opposition parties appealed to the Supreme Court. On September 6, 2010, the Supreme Court unanimously decided to return the case to the High Court, where its merits were heard. On February 14, 2011, the High Court ruled that the opposition did not show enough evidence that the elections had been fraudulent. However, the court criticized the Electoral Commission of Namibia for conducting elections in a manner that could arouse suspicion. The opposition parties appealed the High Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court, which was still considering the case at the end of 2011.

With 54 seats, SWAPO retained its two-thirds majority in the new Parliament, which was sworn in March 21, 2010. The RDP, which won eight seats; the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), which won two seats; and the Republican Party, which won one seat, boycotted the swearing-in ceremony and remain outside Parliament while the appeal is unresolved. The Congress of Democrats (CoD), the United Democratic Front (UDF), Namibian Unity Democratic Organization (NUDO), All Peoples Party (APP), and South West Africa National Union (SWANU) are represented in the National Assembly.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Namibia follows a largely independent foreign policy, but has close relations with states that aided its independence struggle, including the People's Republic of China, Russia, and Cuba.

Namibia is developing trade and strengthening economic and political ties within the Southern African region. As a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Namibia is a vocal advocate for greater regional integration.

Namibia became the 160th member of the United Nations on April 23, 1990, and the 50th member of the British Commonwealth upon independence.

Sources:

CIA World Factbook (December 2011)
U.S. Dept. of State Country Background Notes ( December 2011)

Glossary