Government

Namibia is a republic with an executive president as head of state and government. The president is elected by direct universal adult suffrage every five years, and must achieve more than 50% of the votes cast. He or she can only serve two successive terms.

The president appoints the prime minister, the cabinet and other important posts, but the National Assembly may revoke any appointment. The prime minister is the leader of government business in parliament.

The bicameral parliament is vested with legislative authority. The National Assembly has 78 members serving for a five-year term: 72 members elected by proportional representation and 6 members appointed by the president. The National Council has 26 members, two from each of the 13 regions; members are elected by regional councils and serve for a six-year term. The National Council has limited powers to review legislation passed by the National Assembly and can block bills.

The president may dissolve the National Assembly, and may also proclaim a state of national emergency and rule by decree, subject to the approval of the National Assembly. The National Assembly can remove the president by passing an impeachment motion with a two-thirds majority.

The 1990 constitution was one of the first to incorporate protection of the environment, and has entrenched clauses regarding fundamental human rights and freedoms. The constitution forbids the death sentence, detention without trial, and the practice and ideology of apartheid. Private property rights are guaranteed. Amendments to Namibia’s constitution can only be made by two-thirds majority in both houses.

Namibia is democratic, but it is dominated by one party, namely the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO). Opposition parties are allowed but are widely considered to have little chance of gaining power.

The judicial structure parallels that of South Africa. Roman-Dutch law was declared the law of the territory and remains so today. The judicial system comprises the Supreme Court, presided over by a chief justice, the High Court, presided over by a judge president, and the lower and magistrates’ courts. The Supreme Court serves as a constitutional court and a final court of appeal. Appeals from the lower courts come before the High Court in the first instance. Judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.