Namibians take to the streets in separate protests

Peaceful Assembly

On 8th February 2019 it was reported that residents of Karasburg marched in the streets to protest against police brutality. The protest followed complaints by two residents that they had been assaulted by police officers who also pepper sprayed them for no reason. The residents demanded that officers involved in the assaults be arrested and be held accountable, and the assault allegations be investigated. They also demanded that their concerns be heard by the police without assault or racial profiling.

A petition which they intended to submit to the police commander, who was out of town on that day, read in part:

"We demand that all police officers committing these crimes [should] be held accountable for their actions and prosecuted."

On 18th March 2019, members and supporters of the Affirmative Repositioning Movement (AR), a movement aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of urban youths in Namibia, held a protest in the capital, Windhoek, over land and housing issues. The protesters marched from the Katutura Magistrate's Court to the City of Windhoek Headquarters amid a police presence in the streets.

On 16th June 2019, it was reported that hundreds of protesters marched through the streets in Windhoek to protest against the construction of a new parliament building. Many schools in Windhoek were nearly empty as school children and teachers also joined the march, which started at Katutura Multipurpose Centre, defying orders from the Ministry of Education that they be at school. The new parliament, whose construction cost is budgeted at N$2,2 billion (146 Million USD), will include 400 offices, a chamber to accommodate 300 lawmakers and a gym that is part of a “wellness centre”.

Before the march began however, there was a disagreement between the police and Affirmative Repositioning, after police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga announced that there would be a ban on demonstrations between 13th and 18th June because of international events happening in the country at that time. However, the parties reached an agreement to have the march proceed on condition that the protesters would march to Snyman Circle and not to Parliament. Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi met the protesters at Snyman Circle to receive their petition.

On 24th September 2019, employees of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation held a demonstration to protest against plans by the company to lay off 156 employees as a cost reduction strategy. The employees demanded the reversal of all austerity measures by management in a petition they handed to the acting director general Vezenga Kauraisa. In addition to the layoffs, management had also announced other cost cutting measures including reducing television broadcasting from 24 hours a day to 14 hours (07h00-21h00) and cancelling all indigenous news bulletins.

In September 2019, it was reported that protests broke out in Windhoek and Walvis Bay as fishing industry workers and organisations opposed licensing miners to prospect for minerals on the country’s coastal seabed. The protests were held in the wake of increasing pressure from phosphate prospecting company Namibia Marine Phosphate Ltd (NMP) for the reinstatement of its environmental clearance permit for the Sandpiper Project, which allows it preliminary access to parts of Namibia’s offshore seabed. However, fishing organisations in the country opposed the reinstatement of the company’s licence that would pave the way for marine phosphate mining, which they fear will “compromise economic, environmental and social endeavours.” The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, the Namibian Hake Association and the Midwater Trawling Association of Namibia – with support from the National Union of Namibian Workers and the Trade Union Congress of Namibia – petitioned Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta to reject the issue of the environmental clearance certificate.