The constitution provides for a multiparty democracy in a unitary republic. The President is head of state and government and commander-in-chief of the defence force. Elected by direct universal adult suffrage at intervals of not more than five years, he or she must receive more than 50 per cent of the votes cast. The President appoints the government, the armed forces chief of staff and members of a Public Service Commission, but the National Assembly may revoke any appointment. He or she can only serve two successive directly elected five-year terms. The President may dissolve the National Assembly, and may also proclaim a state of national emergency and rule by decree, subject to the approval of the National Assembly.
Legislative power is vested in a National Assembly of 72 elected members, and up to six nominated but non-voting members, all members serving for a maximum of five years. The National Assembly can remove the President from office by passing an impeachment motion with a two-thirds majority. The Prime Minister is leader of government business in parliament.
An upper house, the National Council, is provided for in the constitution and was formally convened in February 1993. It consists of two members from each of the 13 regions, elected by regional councils and serving for a term of six years. The National Council has limited powers to review legislation passed by the National Assembly and can block bills.
The constitution includes 25 entrenched clauses regarding fundamental human rights and freedoms. There is no death sentence nor detention without trial and the practice and ideology of apartheid is expressly forbidden. Private property rights are guaranteed. Amendments to the constitution can only be made by two-thirds majorities of both houses.
The elections in November/December 1999 produced a clear win for both the South-West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) and President Sam Nujoma. Nujoma secured close to 75 per cent of the votes cast in the presidential poll, while Ben Ulenga of the recently formed Congress of Democrats (CoD) took 11 per cent and the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) candidate Kautuuture Kaura ten per cent. In the parliamentary contest, SWAPO won 55 seats (76 per cent of the votes), the CoD seven (ten per cent) and the DTA seven (9.5 per cent).
In 2001 Nujoma announced he would not seek a fourth term of office and, at its 2004 congress, Hifikepunye Pohamba was chosen as the SWAPO candidate for the presidential election in November 2004.
The November 2004 presidential and legislative elections were won in landslide victories by Pohamba (76.4 per cent of votes) and SWAPO (55 of 72 seats and 75 per cent of the votes). Ulenga (CoD) received 7.3 per cent of the votes in the presidential election and Kaura (DTA) 5.1 per cent, while the CoD won five seats and DTA four.
Pohamba and SWAPO were again returned to government in November 2009 in another landslide. In the presidential poll Pohamba received 76.4 per cent of votes and his main challenger, Hidipo Hamutenya of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), 11.1 per cent. In the legislative elections SWAPO won 54 seats (and 75.3 per cent of votes) and the RDP 8 seats (11.3 per cent).
On 28 November 2014, in Africa’s first electronic ballot, SWAPO’s presidential candidate, Hage Geingob, secured 86.7 per cent of the votes. DTA’s presidential candidate, McHenry Venaani, received 5.0 per cent of the votes and RDP’s Hidipo Hamutenya 3.4 per cent. In the legislative elections on the same day SWAPO won 77 seats (80.0 per cent of the votes), DTA five and RDP three. President Geingob and his new government were sworn in on 21 March 2015.