Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2010 - Namibia

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 1 July 2010
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2010 - Namibia, 1 July 2010, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In November 2009, Namibia held its fourth multi-party elections since the end of South Africa's domination two decades ago. While the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) won a comfortable majority, there is increasing pressure for it to carry out bold programmes of land reform, Reuters news agency reported.

Namibia is a predominantly Christian country. Ten per cent of its 2.1 million citizens practise indigenous beliefs. The Legatum Institute (a UK-based think-tank) ranked Namibia 63rd out of 104 countries in its Prosperity Index in 2009. However, the relative prosperity of Namibian individuals did not seem to favourably influence state and non-state treatment of minorities in 2009. While the conservancy system in Namibia allows communities to manage rural areas as 'protected areas', where they are still allowed to carry out traditional economic activities including hunting and gathering, this has not necessarily improved the lot of minorities. The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC) reported in 2009 that, for instance, Khwe, a San-speaking community, are not recognized as an ethnic group by the central government and hence lack political representation in government. The absence of a singular traditional authority is the reason given for this denial of the right to representation. While the Constitution of Namibia as implemented through the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002 grants traditional chiefs unfettered authority over communal land, it denies San people recognition of their traditional authority, hence by implication curtailing their land rights. The result is often conflict with other communities. A July report in daily newspaper The Namibian said that conflict arose in Nyae Nyae between cattle farmers wishing to use the conservancy land and Ju/'hoansi who are preserving and conserving the area – and who depend on it for their survival. The situation continued to seriously threaten the livelihoods of Ju/'hoansi San people in their ancestral land as well as the diverse wildlife found in the area, including a number of endangered species, the report said.

In August 2009, The Namibian reported that the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), a Namibian community organization, condemned the exploitation of the Himba minority by a Swedish reality TV show, whose depiction of the community was condemned as 'derogatory' and in contravention of the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (UNDRIP)

In 2008, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed concern about the high incidence of rape of San women by members of other communities, and recommended the launch of investigations. The Namibian state has yet to carry out any proper investigations to address gender-based violence perpetrated against San women.

Copyright notice: © Minority Rights Group International. All rights reserved.

Search Refworld