Foreign Policy Blogs

The Namibian Parliament Moves to Give the President the Power to Appoint Regional Governors

The Namibian parliament is debating a law that will give President Pohamba the power to appoint regional governors. Given the ruling South West People’s Organizations’ (SWAPO) electoral advantage in the parliament, it is given that the law will be passed. This means that soon the new regional councilors to be elected in the regional elections scheduled for November 26 and 27 of this year will not have the opportunity to elect regional governors of the 13 political regions in Namibia. The current law requires the regional councilors (who are directly elected by the people through the ballot box) to elect the governors among themselves.

Since 1992, the largely SWAPO dominated by regional councilors have been complaining about limited political power, and hoped that the policy of decentralisation Namibia has embarked upon would give them more political clout they so badly need to run their respective regions effectively. Not so.

According to the Cabinet press release, “amending the existing Special Advisers and Regional Representatives Appointment Act of 1990 would strengthen and clarify the link between the regional councils and central Government it has become necessary for His Excellency the President to appoint special advisers and regional governors to serve at the President’s pleasure,” the Namibian news paper reported.”

President Pohamba’s power to appoint regional governors not only pose a challenge to Namibia’s decentralization process, but also threatens Namibia’s democracy because the law will also empower him to appoint governors in the regions in which the opposition parties have the majority representation.

But more importantly, the appointment also comes at a time when, for the first time in the history of SWAPO, youthful candidates through out the regions have scooped major victory by unseating several incumbent councilors and veteran party politicians in last weekend’s primaries for the regional councilors election scheduled for November. Since the President will have the power to reverse these gains by reappointing some of those defeated politicians as govornors. This indeed would be a huge disappointment to the youth as they have been crying about Namibia’s gerontocratic politics. Facebooking on Dr Eliah Ngurare (Secretary General of the SWAPO Party Youth League, SPYL)’s wall, one critic summed it up in this way, “a nail in the coffin of decentralisation, accountability, democracy. Another avenue of reward for the avaricious unquestioning remote controlled loyal cadres.”



Ndumba J. Kamwanyah

Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah, a native of Namibia in Southern Africa, is an independent consultant providing trusted advice and capacity building through training, research, and social impact analysis to customers around the world. Mos recently Ndumba returned from a consulting assignment in Liberia in support of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In his recent previous life Ndumba taught (as an Adjunct Professor) traditional justice and indigenous African political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa at the Rhode Island College-Anthropology Department.

He is very passionate about democracy development and peace-building, and considers himself as a street researcher interested in the politics of everyday life.
Twitter: NdumbaKamwanyah