Government And Political Condi Essay, Research Paper
Government and Political Conditions
Namibia has a multiparty system with about forty political groups all ranging from modern political parties to more traditional tribes or ethnic groups. They also have a bill of rights; and a system of checks and balances for the three branches of government.
The ultimate authority rests with the President (currently President Sam Nujoma) who is the head of state, head of government, and the commander in chief of the armed forces. The President of Namibia is elected for a five-year term, and was limited to a two year term until recently when the current President Sam Nujoma rewrote the constitution the allow himself to have another bit of the cherry. The President appoints the prime minister and other minister to make up the cabinet from elected members of the National Assemble.
Legislative authority is vested in a bicameral parliament consisting of the National Assembly (consists of 72 members that serve a five-year term, and up to six non-voting members appointed by the president) and the National Council (consists of 26 members; two members are chosen from each of 14 elected Regional Councils to serve a six-year term).
The largest party is the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), which the President Sam Nujoma belongs to. SWAPO was formally a Marxist oriented movement and its aim was to gain independence with a majority rule. After SWAPO came to power all the cabinet posts except one has gone to its own elected party members of the National Assembly.
The principal opposition party is the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), which is a coalition between several ethnically based parties and tribal chiefs; the DTA seems to be the more conservative party. The DTA governed Namibia for ten years under the South African supervision, and is the primary opposition force in Namibia to contest SWAPO for seats in the National Assembly.
The Supreme Court of Namibia, the High Court, and a number of magistrate and Lower Courts exercise judicial authority. The judicial structure in Namibia parallels that of South Africa; Roman-Dutch law was the common law of the territory from 1919 onward; still today Namibia continues this practice.
The incumbent President of Namibia Sam Nujoma has set an example by rewriting that country’s constitution to give him a third term. President Nujoma claimed since the National Assembly had initially appointed him, and he had only been elected once on a popular mandate; so the term limit should not apply in his case. In November 1998, the bill to amend the constitution was passed by clear majority fifty votes to fifteen. He had no problem passing the bill to allow him to run for a third time. Since SWAPA and President Sam Nujoma with the support of the military changed the Constitution it has been clear that only a massive upset can prevent him from controlling the country as long as he prefer.
President Nujoma’s leadership has been heavily criticized for the ruthless way SWAPO has dealt with dissent during the struggle and after independence and his tendency to reward incompetence and venality in exchange for loyalty. President Nujoma is single-minded and determined and is almost impossible to get him to change his mind on issues, for example when he invited Chinese and Africans from across the world to settle in Namibia at a time when Government is spreading a message of population control.
President Sam Nujoma has been and still is very outspoken when it comes to homosexual issues. On Friday 23 of June he launched a virulent attack on gays and lesbians, saying those who practiced homosexuality were “idiots’ who should be condemned. He went on and said that homosexuals were acting against the will of God, and that those people who are practicing homosexuality are destroying the nation and homosexuality was Un-African. However as it stands for the moment Namibia’s labor law outlaws discrimination against gays and lesbians at workplace. This literally does not mean anything, since Nujoma is “controlling the country,” and if he could amend the constitution he can easily change the laws to his likening.
Namibia is a poor country; in 1998 Namibia had only a gross domestic product of 5.5 billion in USD, and a population of 1.6 million. The Namibian government is heavenly depended on the extraction of minerals for export, where it is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world’s fifth largest producer of uranium. The mining industry is twenty percent of the Namibian GDP.
The majority of the Namibian population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. The primary food crops they produce are maize and wheat and the meat products are beef, goat, and chicken. The majority of the Namibian population lives in pronounced poverty because of great inequality of income distribution and the large amount going to foreigners.
The government is seeking for foreign investors desperately to help develop their economy. Namibia has created a Foreign Investment Act that guarantees that foreign investors are treated equal and given the same means and resources that given to Namibian Firms to succeed. This act has already created results as one of the largest direct selling companies in the world, Amway, will enter the Namibian market on 1 February 2001.
The relations between Unites States and Namibia are basically through democratic values. The independence of Namibia has been a leading American foreign policy goal for more than 10 years. For example, the United States government with the United Nation (where Namibia became the 160th member on April 23, 1990 and the 50th member of the British Commonwealth) and the International Court of Justice believe that South African government should end its “administration” of Namibia; and has worked hard to help accomplish this.
The Namibian army is very small, they are expected to have only eight thousand-man army and the army expenditures are around $90 million. With such a small army and economy it has become the Namibian government principal foreign policy to get along with its powerful neighbors (Angola, Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia).
Over the years Namibia relations with its neighbors has been the best with Botswana where they collaborates to eliminate smuggling. Lately though their relations has become tense with Botswana constructing a fence along the border of Namibia.
The relations to Zambia and Angola has been over all very warm, where the Namibian and Angolan government have started to carefully demarcating the boundaries between the two countries. However the relations to Angola has taken a drastic turn the latest couple of days. The Governor of Kavango, Sebastian Karupu on 13 November called on security force members patrolling the northern common border with neighboring Angola, about 700 kilometers north of the Namibian capital, Windhoek, to arrest all Namibians violating the law by crossing into Angola illegally. Many Namibians in the surrounding areas of the border, crosses the border into Angola on a routinely daily basis to collect wild fruits or to fish. This has become very dangerous and the border to Angola has been closed since 1994 (when the President Nujoma closed it after three Namibians had been killed). It happens quiet often that Namibian citizen get abducted by the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) members. The closing and the patrolling of the northern c border is claimed to be for the protection of the Namibian citizen’s.
In Namibia, between a fifth and a quarter of people aged 15-49 is afflicted with HIV or AIDS. Children born early in the next decade will have a life expectancy of 40; without AIDS, it would have been nearer 70. AIDS has become the number one killer in Namibia.
A recent study that has been conducted in Namibia has estimated that AIDS cost almost eight percent of their GNP in 1996. Another recent study conducted predicts that Kenya’s GPD will be 14.5 % smaller in 2005 than it would have been without AIDS, and that income per person will be 10 % lower.
In Namibia there were 4 302 prisoners countrywide during 1999. In a report concerning HIV in the Namibian prisons there were 311 HIV positive inmates countrywide. “Blood tests for HIV were done to 723 inmates and 23 per cent were found to be HIV positive,” said the report. The prison later released several of the AIDS prisoners on grounds that they were dying.
There has been extremely high incidence of rapes in Namibia. The Government has been working very hard to address this issue by introducing new harder laws. One of the new laws recently enforced called for a sentence of 45 years minimum for rapist, and males 14 years and above charged with rape will be tried and convicted as adults. Between 1994 and 1998, nearly 3200 rapes were reported to the police.
Namibian Deputy Minister of Women Affairs and Child Welfare, Marleen Mungunnda, opened on the 13 November, a United Nations expert meeting on HIV/AIDS. During this meeting their major discussions will be concerning that is “HIV/AIDS as a human security issue: a gender perspective” and “Prevention, treatment and care in the context of human rights”.
AIDS has become an enormous problem for all the countries in Africa. At a household level, the blow is sudden and catastrophic. When the breadwinner of the family develops AIDS, his whole family is impoverished twice over, and his little income will disappear and all his time and money that the family has left will go to nursing him. Often husband’s passes HIV to their wife’s and mothers to babies.
One of the major concerns in Namibia and around the world is that people do not believe that HIV is a problem. Due to lack of information, some people want to first see someone suffering from the disease before they will believe that HIV/AIDS is a reality. People must start to openly talk about sex, violence against women and children, alcohol and drug abuse; Namibians, particularly women and girls, will need the courage to say “NO” to unwanted and unprotected sex and the youth should not become sexually active in such early ages.