Namibia-Overview

Namibia can be characterised as a democratic one-party state. While elections are free and fair, it has been ruled by the same party – SWAPO – since independence, organised political opposition is minimal and there is close overlap between ruling party and state. Corruption is an issue, particularly around the extractive industries and infrastructure projects, and there is continuing and marked economic inequality. Given the lack of political opposition, civil society’s advocacy and accountability roles should be crucial, but there is little capacity for these functions. It is estimated that of around 600 registered CSOs, only around 120 are active, and there are wide-ranging capacity and human resource gaps, along with a high dependency on international resourcing and a lack of domestic support. Civil society focuses particularly on health, welfare and HIV/AIDS, and has also taken part in election monitoring. Faith-based groups are significant but do not engage in advocacy. In a climate of political hostility, the LGBTI movement has struggled to sustain itself. A 1990 Act established an Office of the Ombudsman and Namibia’s first National Human Rights Action Plan, covering the period of 2015 to 2019, consulted civil society in its development and recognises the role of civil society.