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Global issue 20

Spotlight Namibia report some technical problems, mainly as a result of polling officers’ inexperience with electronic voting. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation ranks Namibia as the sixth best governed country in Africa and its political system enjoys a positive international reputation. However, although undoubtedly democratic, the political system would function better if there was a strong opposition party to challenge the government. Namibia was one of the last African countries to gain independence. It was ruled by South Africa, initially under a League of Nations mandate, after Germany lost it in World War I. Then, in the face of international opposition, Swapo and other groups fought a guerrilla war against South African forces, but were unsuccessful until Apartheid began to crumble in South Africa itself. Even then, it took another four years for sovereignty of Walvis Bay, which is Namibia’s main port, to be transferred from South Africa to Namibia. Relations with South Africa are fairly strong, as both Swapo and the African National Congress are viewed as victors in the war against Apartheid. Namibia is also an enthusiastic member of SADC – the Southern African Development Community – and is keen to cultivate stronger ties with its landlocked neighbours in the east. The government of Namibia continues Key data n Population: 2,259,000 (2012) n Official languages: English, Oshiwambo, Herero, Nama, Afrikaans and German are widely spoken n Adult Literacy: 76.5% (2007) n Life expectancy: 64 years n Capital: Windhoek n Land area: 824,269 km2 n GNI: US$12.7 billion (2012) n Ethnicity: The Ovambo and Kavango constitute about 60% of the population. Other groups are the Herero, Damara, Nama, Caprivian and San to deal with the fallout of the colonial era, as much of the best farmland is still owned by the tiny white minority in what is an incredibly arid country. Geingob and Swapo are committed to continuing the peaceful transfer of land to the bulk of the population, which has taken place very slowly to date, partly because the government has pursued the same policy of reconciliation with the white minority as South Africa. Under the terms of the constitution, the transfer of property to landless people can only be made where farmers voluntarily sell their land to the government. Perhaps the country’s biggest challenge over the next decade will be the provision of housing. Rising property prices have prevented many poorer urban families from buying or renting a home, so informal housing settlements have begun to spread out around Namibian towns. Geingob has pledged to spend N$45 billion (US$4.1 billion) on the construction of 185,000 new houses over the next 18 years. Whether his government achieves this may determine whether it maintains such a high level of popular support. Neil Ford is an independent consultant and journalist, focusing on international affairs, particularly in Africa and Asia Through history C9000 BCE San (bushmen) inhabit territory that would become modern-day Namibia 1485 Portuguese navigators Diogo Cão and Bartolomeu Dias arrive to explore the area 1700 Orlam clans from the Cape Colony cross the Orange River  and move into the area that today is southern Namibia 1884 The area becomes a German colony 1915 The start of 73 years of occupation by South Africa 1990 Namibia becomes an independent nation. Sam Nujoma is its first President 1998 Parliament passes a controversial constitutional amendment allowing Nujoma to serve a third term. Presidents were intended to serve a maximum of two terms 2004 Hifikepunye Pohamba becomes President of Namibia 2014 Hage Geingob is elected President after Pohamba finishes his second term © Harald Süpfle CC by SA 2.5 © Jose Lopez Jr Amanda Lucindon / White House 32 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2015 global


Global issue 20
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