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Namibia: Towards A Federal State

The 32nd US President, late Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “in politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”

This article seeks to demonstrate how political and military power in Namibia mainly rests in one tribe to the systematic exclusion of others, and therefore advise Namibians to consider federalism as an alternative for equality.

Two weeks ago, the National Assembly debated a motion on social cohesion in Namibia. Windhoek Observer reported about a Constituency Councilor who implied that the military is dominated by one tribe, and other newspapers reported a Deputy Minister implying that the reason why there is development in the north is high population there.

Mr Edwin Samati

The Constitution of Namibia in Article 1(1) provides that Namibia is a unitary state. This is a state where all powers are centralized in the hands of central government. In Namibia, the latter is formed every five years after presidential and national assembly elections, and it has absolute supremacy over the state.

A Kenyan Lawyer, Prof. Patrick Loch Lumumba, said “in most African nations, what we call elections is simply an ethnic census to determine which ethnic group is larger than the other.” Therefore, the tribe which constitutes majority of the national population will constitute majority of voters, eventually becomes the majority in the National Assembly and Cabinet.

That is how political and even military power in Namibia mainly rests in one tribe. That also explains why their homeland is better developed than others, and why they are majority in judicial institutions or public service in general. The concept of majority rule have been misunderstood and misused. It seems, at independence, majority rule became the rule by the largest tribe and minority tribes became significantly insignificant. This is unfair.

The current divisions in SWAPO are probably a protest against being led by one from a minority tribe. The majority tribe in SWAPO have over the years developed an addiction to power. To them, political power is a matter of life and death; and oxygen for their ethnic survival.

Just as the concept of majority rule is being misused, in the same manner that superpowers (+-5 states) claim to be the “international community”, the majority tribe in SWAPO and in Government use the notion of “One Namibia, One Nation” to mean they are the Namibian “nation”, they own “Namibia”, and all others must assimilate. So because they believe, Namibia is, because of them, and therefore theirs.

We can’t blame them for being the majority and dominant, because such dominance may not be their intention but an unintentional consequence of legally accepted electoral and state systems. They should not abuse these systems.

The adoption of a unitary state and “majority rule” never meant the majority ethnic group must rule over all others and forever. Similarly, the notion of “One Namibia, One Nation” does not mean one ethnic group is the exclusive “Namibian Nation”. Namibia is not a monarch.

It is therefore wise for Namibia to consider moving towards federalism to mitigate the level of domination by one race or ethnic group over others, and provide a greater degree of equality and collective freedom.

Today, there is NDP from Zambezi region; NUDO for Ovaherero; APP from Kavango regions; LPM from Hardap and Karas regions, UDF for Damaras, and SWAPO from Owamboland, and PDM for whites. Namibians must accept, the center is no longer cohesive and therefore adopt appropriate systems.

“One size fits all” kind of political administration is oppressive and unfair.

Edwin M Samati
Shaile Village, Caprivi Strip

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