Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1986

Formerly German South West Africa, Namibia has been ruled by
the Republic of South Africa since 1915. The United Nations
lifted South Africa's 1920 League of Nations mandate in 1966.
However, South Africa refused to relinquish its possession and
has ignored a 1971 advisory opinion of the International Court
of Justice upholding U.N. authority over Namibia and calling
for South Africa's immediate withdrawal. In 1978 the United
States, United Kingdom, France, Federal Republic of Germany,
and Canada drafted a proposal for Namibian independence agreed
to in talks with South Africa, the South West Africa People's
Organization (SWAPO), and the neighboring states (known as the
"Front Line States"). This proposal was adopted by the United
Nations Security Council as Resolution 435 (UNSCR 435). It
calls for the cessation of all hostilities, the phased
withdrawal of South African forces, and free elections under
U.N. supervision. South Africa has since said that it will
not implement Resolution 435 without a satisfactory commitment
by the Angolan Government on the parallel withdrawal of Cuban
forces from Angola. In November 1984, the Angolans made a
formal proposal on the numbers and timing of Cuban troop
withdrawal. South Africa responded with its own proposals,
including subsequently a proposed August 1, 1986,
"date-certain" for the implementation of UNSCR 435 if a Cuban
troop withdrawal agreement could be reached by that date. The
date passed without an agreement. The United States is
committed to the U.N. plan and has been playing a mediating
role in negotiations between South Africa and Angola.
A South African Government proclamation in June 1985 gave
ostensible autonomy over internal affairs to a group of
internal political parties, known as the Multiparty Conference
(MPC) . The MPC formed a "Transitional Government of National
Unity," more widely known as the "Transitional Government"
(TG) . A number of parties opposed to South African rule
refused to join the MPC and the TG. Among these parties was
SWAPO, which is waging a guerrilla war against South African
rule from outside the country but is still allowed to operate
as a political party in Namibia, despite harassment by the
authorities. A number of other parties, including a major
part of the South West Africa National Union (SWANU), the
oldest nonviolent opposition group, also refused to join the
MPC. A South African-appointed Administrator General still
sits in Windhoek but with reduced powers, and South Africa
retains direct responsibility for defense, foreign affairs,
and the constitutional status of Namibia. The United States
and the rest of the international community do not recognize
the TG and hold the Republic of South Africa responsible for
the actions of the Namibian authorities it has appointed.
A majority (60 percent) of the population of 1.2 million
Namibians live by subsistence agriculture. The modern economy
relies on mining, ranching, and fishing. A weak and unstable
market for minerals, 6 years of drought only broken in
1984-85, and overfishing by some foreign concerns,
particularly from the Soviet bloc, have caused a lingering
recession. Uncertainty about Namibia's
political future has discouraged potential foreign
investment. Tourism potential is one of the few bright spots
on the economic horizon. Meanwhile, the South African
Government provides over $500,000 a day in direct aid to
Most reports of human rights violations by government
authorities or SWAPO involved actions taken in the war zone in
northern Namibia since 1966 when SWAPO first turned to
violence. Sporadic incidents of violence plague the entire
country, but most of the fighting takes place near Namibia's
border with Angola, especially in the Ovamboland region. The
Ovambo ethnic group comprises approximately 50 percent of
Namibia's population and provides the main support for SWAPO.
In recent years, the combat has been conducted by small groups
belonging to SWAPO' s military branch, the People's Liberation
Army of Namibia (PLAN). SWAPO mounts an annual rainy season
infiltration of northern Namibia from bases in Angola to carry
out sabotage missions. The South African defense force (SADF)
and the South West African Territorial Force (SWATF) attempt
to root out the SWAPO teams and on a regular basis in 1986
conducted "hot pursuit" operations across the border into
Angola. Years of effective South African military operations
in both Namibia and Angola have significantly weakened SWAPO,
and guerrilla infiltration of Namibia dropped off in 1986.
Government forces claimed to have killed over 645 SWAPO
combatants by the end of 1986.
In 1986 there were a number of civilian deaths attributed to
both government security forces and to SWAPO, including some
caused by mines or bombs reportedly planted by SWAPO in public
places. In addition, there was a continuation of arbitrary
government detention without access to counsel or visits by
family members and of torture and other abuses by security
forces. There are also restrictions on freedom of assembly
and freedom of the press. A number of prisoners were released
in 1986.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
a. Political Killing
Namibia is an arena of guerrilla conflict, and there have been
a number of deaths due to terrorist bombings. Post offices,
schools, and other government buildings in the north are
heavily barricaded and patrolled. SWAPO guerrillas have
reportedly murdered some Ovambo civilians, apparently in an
attempt to intimidate others from cooperating with the South
African Government. SWAPO denied responsibility for the
bombing of a Walvis Bay meat market in July which killed five
persons, countering that the market is an implausible SWAPO
target because it was frequented by blacks; SWAPO sympathizers
claimed that government or government-backed groups were
responsible in an effort to discredit SWAPO.
The SADF and SWATF and the police have themselves been accused
of killing captured SWAPO guerrillas. Military officials
state that very few SWAPO guerrillas are captured, but they
attribute this to the nature of the fighting and SWAPO 's
orders to its guerrillas not to be taken captive. Defense
officials insist that they investigate all charges of murder.
They also assert that the murders they have confirmed are acts
of indiscipline and not policy. Critics contend that the
SADF/SWATF sometimes take no action after being informed of
instances of misconduct. In a highly publicized incident,
charges against four members of government security forces
accused of beating a civilian to death were dropped under
direct orders from South African President Botha (see Section
I.e.). The Government did prosecute several other security
force members for brutality and sentenced several to prison,
including a SADF soldier in January who received 6 years in
prison for raping an Ovambo woman.
Some clergymen and human rights activists have accused the
police paramilitary unit previously known as "Koevoet"
(Crowbar) of numerous atrocities including murder. The name
"Koevoet" was dropped in mid-1985 when the unit came under the
authority of the South West Africa police, reporting to the
TG. The South African Government has on occasion agreed to
pay damages, along with legal costs, to settle claims of
alleged unlawful killings and assaults by Koevoet. Criminal
prosecutions, for which a higher standard of proof is
required, have been much rarer.
A SWAPO member and former Robben Island prisoner, Immanuel
Shifidi, was killed on November 30 when outsiders violently
disrupted a peaceful SWAPO rally. There were credible
allegations that some out-of-uniform members of a government
security unit were among the outsiders. The police denied
responsibility and began an investigation of the incident.
Earlier the same week, security force officials accused SWAPO
of murdering a church official. SWAPO denied the charges.
b. Disappearance
The security forces are not obliged to notify anyone when a
person is detained and often hold detainees incoiimunicado for
extended periods of time. They are sometimes accused of
ignoring requests for information from family members and
friends of those who have been detained. As a result, some
Namibians have "disappeared" only to turn up later in
detention cells.
SWAPO reportedly uses abductions to win recruits, although
SWAPO officials contend that all its recruits join
voluntarily. SWAPO allegedly abducted 17 Ovambo school
children in September for this purpose. This may have marked
a revival of a tactic dropped years ago because of the
negative publicity which resulted. Government security
forces pursued the alleged kidnapers into Angola and claimed
SWAPO was forced to release the youths. A SADF officer said
smaller scale SWAPO abductions remain a common feature of life
in Ovambo land.
c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
In 1986 political leaders, clergymen, and others regularly
made detailed allegations that the police and security forces
engaged in brutal treatment against civilians, both in and out
of detention, including the use of solitary confinement and
beatings. Several of these allegations have been confirmed.
Government officials admitted using force to interrogate
suspected SWAPO supporters whom they suspected of planting
mines or bombs.
The most notable case was that of Frans Uapota, allegedly
beaten to death by four SADF soldiers in November 1985. The
Transitional Government charged the four with murder, but
South African President Botha intervened in June and certified
under the Defense Act that the four had acted "in good
faith." The TG, which claimed it was bound by Botha's order
to withdraw the charges, subsequently asked not to be
associated with such actions in the future. However, some
legal observers claimed the TG did not have to comply with
Botha's instruction. The South West African Bar Council
condemned the dismissal of the Uapota case as a "coverup."
Security forces also beat two boys during interrogation. The
mother of one of the boys has sued South Africa's Defense
Minister over the alleged brutality. In one case, the
soldiers were fined; there was no known prosecution in the
other case. Security officials point to these court cases as
proof that claims are investigated and, if valid, pursued in
legal channels.
In April a parents' group in Namibia and neighboring countries
protested SWAPO forced conscriptions of their children as well
as incarceration, torture, and killings. The group also
protested the use of "psychological terror by the SWAPO
Military Police comparable to Koevoet" and the repeated abuse
of young girls and women in SWAPO camps. SWAPO denied the
allegations .
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Two key articles of security legislation, enacted into law via
proclamations by the Administrator General (AG 9 and AG 26),
give security forces broad detention power. AG 9 of 1977
constitutes the legal basis for most detentions and permits
30-day detentions without charge or access to counsel of
anyone deemed to have committed an offense, to be planning an
offense, or to have knowledge of an offense. However, the
Windhoek Supreme Court ruled in February that persons detained
under AG 9 were entitled to have access to attorneys.
Originally, AG 9 applied only to the far northern areas of
Namibia. However, since 1979 the "security districts" have
been extended south, and now more than 80 percent of the
population are subject to AG 9.
In a report released in October 1986, the Van Dyk Commission,
created in 1983 to study changes in security legislation,
indicated that between 1977 and 1983 there were no
prosecutions under AG 9, and that 80 percent of the detained
were released within the 30-day limit. The report stated that
security police had detained 2,624 people under AG 9 between
1977 and the end of 1983, releasing 2,415 of these uncharged
within the 30-day limit and another 157 before charges were
referred to the Attorney General. The police detained 155
people between January 1984 and April 1985. The defense
forces (SADF AND SWAFT) detained 2,893 people between 1977 and
the end of 1983. The defense forces detained 407 people
between January 1984 and April 1985. Although the number of
persons in detention at any one time fluctuates considerably,
it was estimated that approximately eight persons were in
detention under AG 9 at the end of 1986.
In security cases, AG 26 allows detention for 180 days without
trial, under authorization from the Cabinet (previously from
the Administrator General). AG 26 provides several guarantees
not provided by AG 9. It states that detainees are entitled
to a copy of the arrest warrant and to reasons for the arrest
in writing. It further stipulates that detainees are entitled
to visits by medical practitioners and magistrates. AG 26
provides for a Review Committee, but the Cabinet is not
required to follow Review Committee recommendations. The
record in enforcing AG 26 is mixed. Persons detained iinder AG
26 are rarely aware of their rights and even more rarely have
access to competent legal counsel. However, in at least three
cases taken up by attorneys, legal action or the threat of
such action won releases. The Government amnestied several
SWAPO members held under AG 26 in March 1986. The TG said
there were 24 people being held without charge under AG 26 in
June 1986, an apparent decline from earlier in the year.
There were an estimated 21 persons in detention under AG 26 at
the end of 1986.
Until mid-1985, Namibians detained under security legislation
had no recourse to the courts. In various cases in 1985 and
1986, attorneys sought to gain legal access to their clients
or have AG 26 and charges under other laws invalidated,
arguing that they violated the Transitional Government's 1985
Bill of Fundamental Rights. These rights include one that
guarantees "no one shall be detained for an indefinite period
of time without a fair and proper trial by a court." In a
1985 case, the Windhoek Supreme Court found that the Cabinet
had failed to show sufficient cause and ordered the prisoner's
release. However, in February 1986, in State v. Angula, the
Supreme Court denied an appeal of seven SWAPO members charged
under the South African Suppression of Communism Act and the
Terrorism Act. South African Government attorneys
successfully argued that the bill of rights did not apply,
since the TG had not yet devised and won approval for a new
The Windhoek Supreme Court, in what at the time was considered
a potentially landmark decision, ruled in October 1986 that
section 2(2) of the Terrorism Act was in conflict with the
Bill of Rights and Proclamation 101, which created the TG.
This decision, however, was struck down when South Africa's
Bloemfontein Appeals Court, the highest Court of Appeal for
Namibia, ruled in December that only laws passed after the
TG's creation in June 1985 were subject to the Bill of
Rights. This excludes all of the major security legislation,
which accordingly still stands.
There is no forced labor in Namibia.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
In an October 1986 report, the Van Dyk Commission, created by
the Administrator General to make recommendations on the
"adequacy, fairness and efficacy of legislation pertaining to
the internal security of the territory," recommended the
consolidation of all security legislation within one
proclamation. Among the Commission's other recommendations
are the principle that a defendant is responsible for proving
his or her innocence if the State can prove that the crime
occurred and if the accused had some knowledge of it (not
specifically that the accused committed the act). In such a
case, the accused is considered guilty until he or she can
demonstrate innocence "beyond a balance of probability." The
State must also prove that the act was perpetrated with intent
to subvert authority, promote constitutional or political
change, or demoralize or intimidate the public. The
Government's legal authorities consider this stipulation
central to prosecuting alleged "terrorists," because it is
much more difficult to prove guilt under regular criminal
codes which presume the innocence of the defendant. The
Commission also recommended that residents of the "operational
area" in the north be held liable to provide information on
SWAPO activities. The TG ' s Justice Minister has not yet
proposed formal revisions in security legislation to the
National Assembly.
Some elements of the security forces, police and military, are
seconded from South Africa and remain under Pretoria's
ultimate jurisdiction. Thus, Namibians must seek recourse
from the South African Government for alleged injustices. In
one case, a Namibian sued South African Minister of Law and
Order Louis Le Grange for unlawful arrest, wrongful detention,
and maltreatment by the South African police. In March Le
Grange agreed to pay approximately $15,000 and court costs to
a Kavango shopkeeper. However, some observers say most
alleged victims of wrongful detention or security force
brutality do not press charges because of fear of increased
government intimidation after they have given statements.
Most detainees are held without charges under AG 9 and AG 26.
However, those few who are brought to trial can expect a
hearing based on the legal merits of their case. They have
access to legal counsel and can expect the charges against
them to be clearly stated.
The judiciary (Supreme Court, magistrate courts) is
independent of the executive (TG), but its authority is
limited by TG and South African legislation and subject to the
appellate function of South African courts. The Namibian
judicial structure comprises two overlapping systems — one for
whites. Westernized blacks, and coloreds, and another for the
indigenous African people. In 1919 Roman-Dutch law was
declared the common law of the territory.
f. Arbitrary interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
Correspondence .
Security legislation allows the security forces almost
unlimited powers of search and seizure. In the operational
area — the sectors along the northern border — invasion of homes
is said to be routine. Cars are regularly stopped and
searched when entering checkpoints to the northern region;
they are also periodically stopped and scrutinized when
entering or leaving government installations in the
operational area.
Politically active Namibians regularly complain that the
authorities keep them under surveillance. Security police,
often disguised as businessmen, reportedly have offered money
to activists' friends in return for information on their
movements .
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Namibian newspapers are subject to South African press laws,
including the Internal Security Act of 1950. These laws limit
reporting on certain matters such as military affairs and
prisons. In spite of this restriction, the Namibian press
often contains lively and irreverent reporting, and its
editorial writing regularly includes anti-South African and
even pro-SWAPO comment. Newspapers have embarrassed the TG
with disclosures of the salaries and perquisites provided to
TG representatives. The installation of the TG, whose Bill of
Fundamental Rights guarantees the freedom of expression,
suggested a looser rein on the press. However, the Cabinet
required a $9,000 deposit from the owners of the Namibian, a
newspaper whose editorial slant is opposed to the Government
and allegedly pro-SWAPO, before allowing them to publish the
newspaper's inaugural edition on August 30, 1985. The
newspaper's editor appealed to the court in September 1986 and
won her case to have the deposit reduced. Only one other
paper, the Observer, was required to make a similar deposit,
which is prestamably being refunded as well. All other papers
had been required to deposit $9.
The Namibian has complained of regular harassment, including a
fire in August 1986, break-ins, threatening phone calls,
broken windows, and tire slashing.
Publications which are banned in South Africa are also banned
in Namibia. Several SWAPO publications have been declared
"undesirable." However, Windhoek book periodical retailers
carry many publications which one would not find in South
Africa. Censorship laws seem to be less stringently applied
in Namibia than in South Africa.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
All political parties must apply for permission to convene
meetings. The Prohibition and Notification of Meetings Act of
1981 bars any political party from holding a public meeting of
a certain size if that party advocates violence as a means of
changing the status quo. Under this provision, the Government
limited the political activities of the legal SWAPO party,
restricting the size of public meetings to 20 persons or less.
The Windhoek Supreme Court ruled in July 1986 that, according
to the TG ' s bill of rights, SWAPO could hold public meetings
with prior approval because the court found that the group did
not specifically advocate the overthrow of the Government by
force. SWAPO subsequently held three public meetings, their
first in 5 years. While the first two were undisturbed, the
third meeting was violently interrupted by outsiders, some of
whom were credibly alleged to be out-of-uniform members of a
government security unit. The police then arrived and broke
up the meeting by indiscriminately firing large amounts of
tear gas, even at people fleeing the meeting or well away from
the meeting site.
The Government banned a march planned by the Roman Catholic
Church and various political opposition groups (the ban was
overturned by the Supreme Court). On December 4, the TG
prohibited meetings to commemorate the "old location" incident
of 1959, when several people were killed during a forced
removal in Windhoek. The meetings ban was imposed under the
Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956. The Government also detained
church officials, not for their religious activities but for
their alleged political opposition. Several officials of the
Lutheran church (the largest church in Namibia) were detained
in May, although some were released the next month. At the
end of 1986, the authorities were investigating tha political
activities of the Council of Churches of Namibia (CCN), which
is often seen as sympathetic to SWAPO. Both the CCN
headquarters in Windhoek and a Lutheran church in Ovamboland
were bombed in January (the CCN building being totally
destroyed) . The Government and SWAPO blamed each other for
the bombings .
Both Pretoria and the TG restrict non-Namibians from speaking
out on political issues within the territory. The TG has the
authority to ban outsiders from entering Namibia to give
speeches. It used this authority in 1986 to prohibit a speech
by a member of the South African United Democratic Front. The
law also bans right-wing groups — including the Conservative
Party, the Herstigte National Party, and the far right
Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging from speaking on plans for
Namibian independence. This subject is reserved for officials
of the South African Government. The Government arrested
South African black activist Saths Cooper in February before
he addressed a meeting on the black consciousness movement and
its lessons for Namibia. Cooper was arrested for violating an
old law prohibiting the entry of Asian people into the country
without a permit. After the charges against Cooper were
dropped, the Government later replaced the law with one that
requires an entry permit for all persons not born in Namibia
or who do not work for the Government .
At least seven larger and several smaller labor unions are
registered in Namibia, and all are nominally open to all
races. However, only one has a sizable black membership: the
Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) based in Tsumeb. The
Department of Civic Affairs reports that only the MUN and the
Municipal Staff Association are functioning labor
organizations. The MUN is represented in just one of the
three mining firms, and neither union has been noticeably
active. Migrant labor is a staple of the mining and fishing
industries. Many of the migrant workers are Ovambos unwilling
to risk being discharged and forced back to the operational
area by loss of their income.
c. Freedom of Religion
Namibians enjoy complete freedom of religion. Almost all
Namibians are Christians. The Lutheran Church has by far the
largest share of adherents: the 1985 merger of two Lutheran
branches formed the evangelical Lutheran Church, to which 7
out of 10 Namibians belong. The Catholic, Anglican,
Methodist, and Dutch Reformed churches are also active. There
is 1 synagogue, and there are approximately 20 Jewish families
in Windhoek.
Most church officials are openly critical of South African and
TG policies and complain they are regularly harassed and
inconvenienced, e.g., by passport denials, by the
authorities. The TG reportedly delayed one education aid
project sponsored by the Namibian Council of Churches until
the project was taken over by a secular group. South African
Defense Force officials frequently argue that clerics are
SWAPO sympathizers and supporters. The clerics have denied
allegiance to SWAPO, stating only that they wished to see
Namibia become truly independent. The military conscription
system makes no provision for conscientious objectors.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The February 1985 order under the security districts
proclamation states that no person may enter six northern and
northeastern districts without first obtaining a permit issued
by the police. The districts are Ovamboland, Kavangoland,
Kaokoland, Eastern Caprivi, Bushmanland, and Hereroland East.
Everyone must apply in person at a police station and fill out
a form giving their reason for travel. Approval of such
applications can take up to 2 weeks. Since the order was
issued, several people have been denied permits. In at least
one case, the police refused to give reasons for the denial.
Two journalists were refused permission to travel to Kaokoland
to cover a poaching trial against security officials.
Clerics in northern Namibia complain that these regulations
greatly restrict their ability to attend to their
congregations, particularly when they must travel from
Ovamboland into Kavangoland. One church leader was offered a
multiple-entry permit, but he rejected it as an illegitimate
special privilege.
Though enforcement of the requirement that travelers present
permits at roadway checkpoints leading into the northern
sectors has reportedly grown lax, travelers without permits
still risk being turned away. A dusk-to-dawn curfew in the
operational area also restricts freedom of movement. Leaders
of various churches petitioned the Supreme Court to end the
curfew as being inconsistent with the Government's Bill of
Rights. The Supreme Court rejected the petition December 5,
and the curfew remains in force. In addition, the potential
danger of land mines discourages travel on unpaved roads.
The authorities control travel beyond South Africa through
denials of passports or "travel documents", which are required
of Namibians seeking to journey overseas. Those persons
deemed to be sympathetic to SWAPO or who are officially
associated with SWAPO are usually given passports valid for
only 1 year rather than the regular 5-year period. Gwen
Lister, editor of the Namibian, and SWAPO Secretary-General
Toivo Ja Toivo are two persons who have been given the more
restricted passports. In some cases, individuals are refused
passports altogether, as in the 1986 case of Roman Catholic
Bishop Kameeta. All persons entering South Africa or Namibia
must have a passport and visa unless they can prove to be
South African or Namibian by law or descent.
In November 1985, the TG's appointed National Assembly passed
a law requiring non-Namibians to apply for special permits if
they wish to reside in Namibia for longer than 30 days. Three
South Africans were deported in April 1986 under this
"Residence of Certain Persons in South West Africa Regulation
Act", which allows for the deportation of people who threaten
the public order. The Act applies to all non-Namibians and
those outside the Government and armed forces. However, the
Windhoek Supreme Court ruled in November that the Residence of
Certain Persons Act violated the Government's Bill of
Fundamental Rights and thus was invalid. The TG has appealed
the decision. Travel restrictions also allegedly occur at the
local level. One of Namibia's 11 ethnic authorities, the
Rehoboth Basters, reportedly jailed 24 Ovambos for being
present in the Rehoboth area without residence permits. Such
restrictions are illegal under the central Government's law.
There are approximately 80,000 Namibian refugees in other
African countries.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government.
Namibians do not have the right to change their Government.
Ruled by an Administrator General prior to June 17, 1985, they
are now ruled by South Africa through the Transitional
Government which they did not elect and which is not
accountable to them. Theoretically the TG has full control
over all government portfolios, excepting defense and foreign
affairs, which the South African Government retains. The six
parties of the TG divided the cabinet seats among themselves
after sustained negotiations. No elections were held. The
Cabinet enacts legislation through a National Assembly, whose
•members were appointed by the six parties.
In 1978 the prospect of independence led to the creation of a
number of political parties seeking representation through the
election mandated by United Nations resolution 435. At one
time, some 47 political organizations existed, several of
which had only a handful of members. In 1986 about a dozen
political parties have credible structures and membership
rolls. Six of these parties take part in the TG.
The TG inherited a complex three-tier administrative
structure. The first-tier is the central government level.
The second-tier authorities are separate ethnic governing
bodies representing each of the 11 officially designated
population groups. Third-tier authorities, such as municipal
governments and village management boards, provide local
services. The control of facilities such as schools,
hospitals, and libraries by the ethnic second-tier authorities
results in the best available facilities being reserved for
whites, who enjoy a much higher tax base. The issue of
whether to dismantle the second-tier structure or, if not, how
to amend it, is the most divisive question facing the TG.
There is an informal plan, put forward in April 1986 by one of
the TG parties, the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), and
another by two black-led parties, to replace the second-tier
ethnic authorities with districts or provinces. The DTA plan
calls for the formal division of the country into 19
districts, while the plan proposed by the South West African
National Union (SWANU) and SWAPO-democrats of the TG divides
the country into 6 provinces. The DTA plan also would provide
for one-man, one-vote for a 60-member national assembly, and a
60-member senate. Throughout 1986 the Constitution Council
continued to grapple with developing a draft constitution,
which is due to be tabled in the National Assembly in early
1987. According to the rules under which it was created, a
two-thirds vote in the Assembly will be required to approve a
draft, if a consensus cannot be reached.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
The Administrator General and the TG generally permit critics
of Namibia's human rights situation to visit Namibia. For
example, the Namibian Council of Churches (NCC) occasionally
sponsors visits of persons and groups critical of the internal
situation. According to Amnesty International's 1986 Report,
the Administrator General, in response to 1985 allegations of
torture, issued a three-page document which stated that
military personnel had been warned against mistreatment of
detainees and "unlawful acts of violence." The Namibia
Communications Center, an ecumenical agency based in London,
chronicles reported human rights abuses in Namibia. The
International Society for Human Rights Conference in London in
March included considerable criticism of SWAPO's human rights
The South African Government ordered officials of the
International Committee of the Red Cross out of South Africa
and Namibia in October 1986 in retaliation for the Red Cross
Conference vote to expel the South African delegation from its
conference in Geneva. However, this decision was rescinded in
November .
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Language, or Social Status
Namibians are of diverse linguistic and ethnic origins. The
principal groups are the Ovambo, whites, Damara, Herero,
Okavango, Nama, colored (mixed race). East Caprivian, Bushmen,
Rehoboth Baster, Kaokovelder, and Tswana. Namibia's
population was estimated at 1.2 million in 1982 with Africans
comprising almost 86 percent and the largest group, the
Ovambo, constituting 51 percent of the total.
In 1977 Judge T. Marthinus Steyn used his tenure as
Administrator General to ease apartheid in Namibia. Laws
prohibiting interracial marriage and sexual relations were
repealed, and laws restricting the movement of individuals
based on race were abolished. Today integrated facilities are
the rule. Most hotels and restaurants are officially open to
all races. However, at least one Windhoek restaurant
blatantly maintains a whites-only admission policy. Several
others seem to use more subtle methods to discourage black and
colored patrons. Poverty restricts most blacks and coloreds
from moving out of their respective townships into the white
neighborhoods of Windhoek. In December 1985, Namibia's
libraries, including the Windhoek public library, which were
operated by the second-tier administration for whites, were
opened to all groups.
Namibia no longer has an equivalent of the South African Group
Areas Act, which restricts areas of domicile by race, but
economic factors keep the races largely divided. The TG is
grappling, so far unsuccessfully, with devising an alternative
to AG 8, the legislation which created 11 different ethnic
second-tier authorities which provide for segregated education
and other public services. Under the system, whites, who
provide 90 percent of the country's tax revenues, pay only for
the upkeep of white schools and services.
The Cabinet recommended that all schools be opened to all
races in 1987, but two parties in the TG, the White National
Party of South West Africa and the "colored" Rehoboth Free
Democratic Party which control their own schools, opposed the
move, and the plan has been shelved for the 1987 school year.
President Botha reportedly told TG officials in October that
they should not go ahead with wholesale desegregation of the
schools but rather continue to recognize group, as opposed to
individual, rights.
Women encounter considerable difficulties in both traditional
and modern settings. Under traditional practice, a woman is
usually the ward of her father or, when married, her husband.
She is never independent. Women in the modern sector complain
of discrimination in employment and in financial affairs.
Women's groups have been formed generally under the auspices
of the churches. Women are represented in the National
Assembly, though not in the Cabinet. In 1985 the Council of
Churches helped establish a women's organization, the Namibian
Women's Voice (NWV) , whose representatives traveled to Nairobi
for the U.N. conference marking the end of the U.N. decade for
women. In Nairobi these 18 women joined 18 Namibians in exile
and sat together as a united delegation. The NWV has
undertaken projects commemorating the role of women in
Namibia's history.
There is no minimum wage in Namibia. The minimum working age
is 15. Reliable information about the extent to which
occupational health and safety standards are enforced in
Namibia is not readily available.