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date: 29 September 2023

Namibia since Independencelocked

Namibia since Independencelocked

  • Henning MelberHenning MelberDepartment of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria; Centre for Gender and Africa Studies, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein; Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala


The Republic of Namibia was a latecomer in the decolonization of Africa. Its trajectory has also been exceptional in other ways. The first three decades after independence in 1990 were characterized by the political hegemony of a former liberation movement as government in a multiparty constitutional democracy under the rule of law. In contrast to other anticolonial movements, the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO of Namibia) consolidated and further entrenched its power in successive national, and regional and local, elections until 2014 and 2015, respectively. But the presidential and National Assembly election results in November 2019 and those of the Regional and Local Authorities in November 2020 marked a rupture. The shifting grounds indicate a gradual erosion of the party’s credibility. Contributing factors were the lack of delivery in governance and, in particular, the effects of growing socioeconomic constraints. An initial period of economic growth based on resource extraction mainly benefited the old and new elites in collusion with international companies. The policies of those in government and control over the state displayed the limits to socioeconomic transformation for the majority of people, who had expected more material benefits from self-determination. As a result, there has been a growing lack of trust in governance, and new contestants have entered the political sphere. It remains to be seen how this new political landscape will shape the country’s social contract and democratic contestation.


  • Political History
  • Southern Africa

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