The Swapo ruling party has ruled Namibia
since independence in 1990. Until 2014, Swapo received
over 70 percent of the vote in all elections. Then
followed several years of drought and economic decline,
which eroded support for the government. After the 2019
election, a weakened Swapo is in power.
Although Swapo has been criticized for abuse of
power, corruption and slanderous politics, the divided
opposition has difficulty reaching the same legitimacy
that Swapo enjoys since the liberation war against South
Africa. It was Swapo's armed struggle from 1966 onwards
that led to South Africa relinquishing control over
Namibia. Independence in 1990 also set the point for the
racial segregation policy, apartheid, which South Africa
introduced into the country and which meant that whites
would dominate over blacks (see Older history). After
independence, the government called for reconciliation
and many whites chose to stay in the country. They still
have a key role in agriculture and other sectors of the
Country facts and history of Namibia, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Prior to the 2014 elections, Swapo passed a
constitutional amendment that strengthened the
president's power (see Political system). That the
change was implemented without consultations with the
opposition and other organizations was widely
criticized, even within the party.
Despite the discontent, Swapo's candidate Hage
Geingob (see Modern History) won the presidential
election with record high figures - 87 percent of the
vote. In the parliamentary elections, Swapo received
almost 80 percent of the vote, which was also a record.
The outgoing president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, was
prevented by the constitution from being re-elected (see
Some observers were surprised that Geingob became
Swapo's candidate in the election: he belongs to the
Damara minority group and is thus the first president of
Namibia who does not come from the dominant Ovambo
people. Geingob is considered to belong to a relatively
moderate bankruptcy within Swapo.
Geingob got a brave first term in office when the
country suffered one of the worst drought periods in
history. Combined with falling prices for the important
export goods diamonds and uranium, the drought led to a
decrease in GDP every year from 2016 onwards.
Although Namibia has rich mineral resources and is
now considered a middle-income country, resources are
very unevenly distributed (see Social conditions).
Poverty has declined significantly since independence,
but Swapo has failed to address the high unemployment
and housing shortage that is particularly affecting
young people. According to a report released in the fall
of 2018, nearly one million of the country's 2.5 million
residents live in sheds on land belonging to someone
During the apartheid era, land ownership was reserved
for whites, and after independence the government has
tried to redistribute land to landless citizens, but the
process is slow. Swapo officials have also been accused
by the opposition of selling land at low prices to
relatives and friends.
At a national conference on land issues in 2018,
Geingob promised that the state would start
expropriating land owned by people living abroad (read
more about land reform in agriculture and fisheries). In
the same year, a new opposition party was formed -
Landless People's Movement (LPM) - demanding a faster
and more radical redistribution of land.
Shortcomings in the school system and access to
health care are other issues being discussed. Namibia is
one of the countries in the world that is most affected
by HIV. The government has classified the fight against
the disease as a national matter and in 2018 the UN
agency Unaids noted that Namibia has made great progress
in this area (see Calendar).
Race in voter support
In November 2019, the Namibians returned to the
presidential and parliamentary elections. Ten candidates
ran for president Geingob, including party mate
Panduleni Itula, who was running for independence.
Just before the November 2019 elections, the
government was hit by a corruption scandal that forced
two ministers to fall (see Calendar). Geingob was also
criticized for having the administration swell
unnecessarily and for the benefit of foreign companies
instead of domestic ones.
Geingob won the presidential election but only by 56
percent of the vote, which was 31 percentage points
worse than 2014. Itula's support among younger voters
gave him 30 percent. Swapo also made a significantly
worse election than in 2014 in the parliamentary
elections. As a result, Swapo lost the opportunity to
make constitutional changes on its own.
Follow the ongoing event development in the Calendar.
FACTS - POLITICS
Republic of Namibia / Republic of Namibia
republic, unitary state
Head of State and Government
Hage Geingob (2015–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
Swapo 63, PMD (formerly DTA) 16, LPM 4, Nudo 2, APP
2, UDF 2, others 7 (2019)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Swapo 77, DTA 5, RDP 3, UDF 2, APP 2, Nudo 2, WRP 2,
Others 3 (2014) 1
72% in the 2014 presidential and parliamentary
presidential and parliamentary elections 2024
- in this election, the number of eligible
seats in Parliament was increased from 72 to
Swapo gets new party leader
President Hifikepunye Pohamba is elected as new party leader for Swapo. At
the same time, Hage Geingob becomes Vice Chairman. Geingob was Prime Minister
from 1990 to 2002, but then came to the brink of the then President Nujoma and
moved abroad temporarily.
Ex-members from Swapo start a new party
Defenders from Swapo form a new party: Collection for Democracy and Progress
(RDP), led by former Foreign Minister Hipido Hamutenya.
Sam Nujoma does not stand for re-election
Former President Sam Nujoma announces that he will not stand for re-election
as party leader of the Swapo government party.