Namibia: Gender and Elections

National election report  |  Training reports

The 2005 SADC Summit set a target of achieving 50% women’s representation in political and decision-making structures by 2015. The previous target had been 30% by 2005. But reflections after the 2004 elections, Namibia exceeded 30% women’s representation in local government. These reflections largely came because of affirmative action measures which required political parties to include certain number of women on their party lists. There was a significant improvement during 2014 general elections whereby the representation of Women raised to 46%. These projections might be raised due to a number of relevant activities carried out to motivate women’s political participation such as Women in Politics training introduced by Gender links Namibia and Voter Education campaigns facilitated by National Institute for Democracy.

With the upcoming elections for Presidential and General Assembly elections on the 27th of November 2019 ahead of the Regional and local elections which will take place next year during the same month, the three following systems applies and these are majoritarian, PR with party lists and First past the post. These systems have been in place since independence and obliged by both political parties to effect democracy and gender equality. Through majoritarian system, the candidate have to receive more votes to be elected provided that candidate has a clear majority of more than 50% of the votes. With the PR with party lists for National Assembly, the system gives all political parties to present a list of up to 72 candidates to the Electoral Commission will be both the Parliamentary and the Local Government elections.

Through this system, quotas are calculated by dividing all the votes casted by the total number of seats in the National Assembly. The third system is the First Past the Post (FPTP) system which applies to Regional Council elections. Through this system candidates will runs in a separate single member constituencies and whoever wins the highest number of votes wins the seat for that specific constituency.

The PR system still applies or used in Local Authority elections where parties are expected to present a different candidates list for each local authority. According to the Local Authority Act of 1992, only two elections were to be held using this type of electoral system. The 2003 local government elections were to be conducted using a ward system. For each ward, only one representative would be elected to the Local Authority. This plan was dropped and the Act changed in 2002 to continue the PR system.

In many aspects, there were good arguments for using PR system at local level and these are;

  • PR systems favour the inclusion of smaller parties.
  • Voters were familiar with the PR party list system.
  • The PR system is cheaper to run.
  • Since the residential pattern in Namibia has not changed substantially since independence, it could not be guaranteed that the candidates would not represent particular racial or ethnic groups.
  • A PR system could be used to legally guarantee fair gender representation through legislation that makes it compulsory to have a specific number of women on

Even though, women have shown keen interest of advancing into politics, there were number of factors identified as stumbling blocks for women to increase the political participation such as feeling of inferiority, lack of power within, culture beliefs towards men. We can observe and anticipate the 2019 presidential and General assembly elections results based on the results from SWAPO Electoral College (held on 07-08 September 2019) that women’s political representation might eventually improve even more since women leads in the top five of the party list. This has motivated many female politicians to engage into campaigns to secure their own space in Parliament for them to become decision makers.