Namibia

In 2010, Namibia celebrates that it is 20 years since the country became independent. The South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) has been in power since its release in 1990 and was re-elected for the fourth time in November 2009. Land redistribution and rights have been the theme in Namibia for many years and have become a theme for one of the country’s indigenous groups, san.

Namibia held elections to the National Assembly in November 2009, and SWAPO is still the largest party with 74 percent of the vote and 54 out of 72 seats in parliament. Sitting President Hifikepunye Pohamba (SWAPO) was re-elected for his second term with 75 percent of the vote. There was great excitement in the election when 14 opposition parties voted for elections, including the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), which is now the largest opposition party with eight of the parliamentary seats. The result showed that opposition parties to a small extent took votes from SWAPO, but rather lost votes to each other. African Observer Mission has stated that the election was conducted as free and fair, but several civil society organizations believe that the Namibian Election Commission failed to satisfy the requirements for a free and fair election. Nine opposition parties have joined forces to get the Supreme Court to declare the 2009 election invalid.

President Pohamba has emphasized the importance of working against corruption. However, the central SWAPO politician Paul Kapia was linked to the shady business in 2005. He was removed from Parliament and lost his position in the government following this incident. Now he has again been taken into the heat at SWAPO. In the 2009 election, he stood at number 25 in a safe place and was re-elected to Parliament.

Youth challenges

Namibian authorities have for years been challenged by organized youths who associate their poor situation with exile existence during the liberation struggle. They want the authorities to put in place special measures to provide them with education and jobs, and have highlighted their demands and their situation through long-term occupation and tenting outside the Department of Veterans Affairs. When there were no results, they set up a tent camp outside SWAPO’s Katutura headquarters. A center for these youths has now been opened, and Prime Minister Nahas Angula has stated that they should stand first in the queue for job vacancies in opposition to government institutions. Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) has helped promote the demands.

Rich in natural resources

The global financial crisis had consequences in Namibia. Copper prices plummeted and diamond sales were sharply reduced. This led to a reduction in activity, and several mines were closed down or manned. However, now there are brighter prospects, and several of the closed copper mines are opening again. The country’s diamond grinders and polishing companies are hoping for better times as global demand for untreated diamond is on the rise.

Ruacana hydroelectric power plant on the Namibian side of the river Kunene plans to expand capacity by installing a fourth turbine in March 2012, which will reduce dependence on imported electricity. A new hydropower plant is also planned in the Baynes Mountains northwest of Namibia, but it is still uncertain who will finance the hydropower plant if it is realized. There is also great excitement about whether the interests of indigenous groups in the area will be taken care of, both on the Namibian and Angolan side.

Indigenous rights

Nyae The Nyae community was the first community established in Namibia. It has long been regarded as the original area of Ju / ´hoansi- san, which constitutes the majority of the population of the area and which still lives partly in the traditional way. The traditional use of the area is based on the lifestyle of the San people and has preserved much of the species diversity in the public, including many of Namibia’s important wildlife species. Ju / ´hoansi uses the resources for food, medicines and to generate income. They do this in a sustainable way, and they must therefore receive a great deal of credit for the area not being subject to environmental damage. But in the fall of 2009, livestock and people from the Gam area moved in and settled illegally in the public.

The San people in Namibia are a marginalized group of people who are often challenged by other groups. The situation that emerged in 2009 illustrates the lack of understanding of the lifestyle of the San people and their dependence on nature. A common belief is that since the San people do not utilize the land for large-scale agriculture, it is not fully utilized and should be made available for other modes of operation. However, large-scale grazing and clearing of scrub forest can cause great damage to natural resources and also lead to less financial security and poor food security for Ju / ´hoansi. In addition, it can lead to a decline in the wild population, which in turn will result in a decline in tourism and in the number of hunters who come to hunt. Both are important sources of income for the public.

The illegal settlement is a clear violation of Namibia’s laws on land rights, settlement, wildlife protection and natural resources. The situation threatens the livelihood of Ju / ´hoansi and the rich diversity of species in the area. The illegal migration also increases the risk of outbreaks in the area and can have a devastating effect on Namibia’s exports of beef.

Entrepreneurship

initiative The unemployment rate among young people in Namibia is 45 percent, and as part of the work to create jobs, the Namibian authorities have introduced entrepreneurship as an elective subject in the secondary school. As of January 2010, 90 percent of the students have entrepreneurship as an elective. The main objective is to enable young people to utilize their own local resources to create their own workplace.

In the annual survey on Digo Paul, Namibia is doing well. Namibia is described as a free country with plenty of room for political competition, respect for human rights, freedom of expression and a free press. Namibian media has some of the best conditions in sub-Saharan Africa and freedom of the press is respected by the Namibian authorities.

Country facts:

Area: 824 116 km2 (15th largest)

Population: 2 million

Population density per km2: 2.6

Urban population: 36 percent

Largest city: Windhoek – approx. 314 000

GDP per capita: USD 4143

Economic growth: 2.9 percent

HDI Position: 128