The Republic of Namibia attained its independence on 21 March 1990 and was established as a sovereign, secular, democratic and unitary State. In accordance with the doctrine of separation of powers, the government is divided into three organs:
Each organ is responsible for a different function of the government. The legislative branch is responsible for making laws which are implemented by the executive and interpreted by the judiciary branch.
The Executive is that branch of the government that sees to it that the laws passed by the National Assembly and Council are carried out. The Executive powers of Namibia vests with the President and the Cabinet. The President is therefore the head of State and government. He/she is elected by direct franchise in a national election every five years in which he/she must win more than 50% of the votes.
The Cabinet consists of the President, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers appointed by the President. Together, they implement the policies guided by the constitution and acts of Parliament. The Prime Minister is the Chief Advisor to the President and the overall coordinator of the Government Offices, Ministries and Agencies. Under him/her are Ministers and Deputy Ministers and their staff members who are running different Ministries. At present there are 20 Ministers responsible for Offices, Ministries and Agencies. Ministers must therefore supervise different activities in their respective government Ministries and explain these actions to the National Assembly as well as to the general public.
Regional and Local Authority Councils
Regional and Local Governments Article 102 of the Constitution provides that the Country be divided into regional and local units. In keeping with this constitutional requirements, thirteen (13) administrative regions and many other Local Authorities have been established in terms of both Regional Councils Act and Local Authorities Acts of 1992.
A common feature in respect of Regional and Local Authority Councils is that they both have substantial fiscal powers and have to adhere to established procedures, systems and regulations in the day to day handling of financial matters. Taxes and levies may be collected in terms of Section 30 and 33 of the Local Authorities Act, 1992 and the Regional Councils Act, 1992 respectively. Each Region has several local governments elected by the Community to take care of the community matters. Cities and urban centers have their own municipal or town bodies that make ordinances to deal with their local issues and have the powers to enforce these ordinances.
Furthermore, all Regional and Local bodies have the power to legislate regarding their own affairs as long as their acts and conduct do not conflict with the overall guidelines in the Constitution. Their laws and acts are subject to judicial review.
The Legislature branch of government is responsible for making laws of the Country. The main law-making body is the Parliament, which consists of two different chambers:
The National Assembly
The National Council
The National Assembly
The National Assembly is established in terms of Article 44 of the Constitution as the highest law making body of Namibia. It consists of 72 elected and six appointed members who meet regularly to initiate and approve laws. Members of the National Assembly are elected every five years on a proportional representation system basis.
The National Council
The National Council on the other hand is established in terms of Article 68 of the Constitution. The National Council is the second house of Parliament and is made up of two elected representatives from all thirteen Regions of Namibia. They are twenty six (26) in total. The National Council shall have the power to:
consider in terms of Article 75 hereof all bills passes by the National Assembly; investigate and report to the National Assembly on any subordinate legislation, reports and documents which under law must be tabled in the National Assembly and which are referred to it by the National Assembly for advice; recommend legislation on matters of regional concern for submission to and consideration by the National Assembly; perform any other functions assigned to it by the National Assembly or by an Act of Parliament. The National Council is established from Regional Councils, whose elections are based on a first-past-the-post system (winner takes all) after every six years.
The Judiciary In terms of Article 78 of the Constitution, judicial powers are vested in the Courts of Namibia, which consists of:
The Courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law. No member of the Cabinet or the Legislative or any other person shall interfere with Judges or Judicial Officers in the exercise of their judicial functions.
The judiciary branch is the third branch of Government and it is responsible for the interpretation of the laws of the Country as well as decisions and behaviour of State and Government officials.
The Highest Court in Namibia is the Supreme Court, which is headed by a Chief Justice who is assisted by other Judges appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.
The Judicial Service Commission is established in terms of Article 85 of the Constitution whose function is to make recommendations with regard to all judicial appointments and disciplinary actions against a Judge. The Judicial Service Commission consists of the Chief Justice, or the presiding officer of the Supreme Court, a Judge nominated by the President, the Attorney-General and two representatives from the legal profession.
The second highest Court in Namibia is the High Court, which consists of the Judge-President and other Judges appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.
Lower Courts shall be established by Act of Parliament and shall have the jurisdiction and adopt the procedures prescribed by such Act and regulations made hereunder. Lower Courts shall be presided by Magistrate or other judicial officers appointed in accordance with procedures prescribed by Act of Parliament. Other important judicial offices are those of the Attorney-General and the Prosecutor-General, who are the Chief Law Enforcement Officers in the Government. The two offices are political appointments whose terms expire with that of the Government under which they were appointed.
The Ombudsman Chapter 10 of the Constitution establishes the office of the Ombudsman as an important person in the administration and oversight of justice in all Government Offices in Namibia. The Ombudsman is a lawyer or a judge appointed by the President to guard against corruption and injustice in the Government and to help protect the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all the people. He/she has wide-ranging powers and the right to subpoena and question persons and refer matters to the Courts of law, as circumstances require.
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