Progress or Regression? The Namibian Constitution and Good Governance after more than a quarter-century

and book launch of "Beyond a quarter-century of Constitutional Democracy in Namibia"

Also available in Deutsch

How did the Namibian constitution and its implementation develop since Independence? This was the topic of discussion on the panel as well as in the new KAS publication.

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Im Rahmen der Diskussion beleuchtet Sprecher Phil ya Nangoloh die Diskrepanz zwischen verfassungstechnischer Theorie und Praxis

Panelist Phil ya Nangoloh looked at the differences between the constitution's theoretical foundation and its practical implementation

Namibia's constitution is praised as one of the most modern basic laws around the globe with its Bill of Rights, the separation of powers and democratic order. As the country's supreme law, the constitution guarantees the rule of law in Namibia and acts as a normative guideline for its citizens as well as for the legislators, the judiciary and the government.

But how did the Namibian Constitution and its implementation change during the last 27 years? What tendencies can we observe, and how must they be evaluated? These were the core questions that invited panelists Carola Engelbrecht (Director of CATS), Phil ya Nangoloh (NAMRIGHTS founder and director), Prof. Nico Horn (UNAM) and German Constitutional expert Prof. Dr. Matthias Herdegen from the University of Bonn came together to discuss. However, these questions were not only taken up on the panel, but also in the new KAS publication "Beyond a quarter-century of Constitutional Democracy in Namibia - Process and Progress", which was edited by Prof. Nico Horn and Manfred Hinz and publically introduced for the same time. The book is a sequel to the popular 2010 publication "Consitutional Democracy in Namibia. A critical Analysis after two decades" and deals with current issues like gay rights in Namibia, the land matter, the electoral process or aspects of the country's environmental law.

Following on the book launch, the speakers took up the topic of constitutional democracy and discussed specific aspects in their respective presentations. Carola Engelbrecht started the panel discussion by pointing out the rights that are guaranteed by the constitution, but also passionately emphasized aspects which still lack behind, like i.e. the high unemployment rate. She quoted the articles of the constitution giving the political power to the people, but at the same time emphasized on the fact that citizens and the civil society have to make use of them and engage in the political process in order to live up to the full potential. The second speaker Phil ya Nangoloh looked at the discrepancy between the legal constitutional base and its implementation during the last decades, which hasn't always been managed in an optimal manner. He also referred to Carola Engelbrecht's point by stating that democracy is actually defined as an interaction between the state, private sector and civil society and therefore needs engagement from all three sectors. Prof. Nico Horn, who was the third speaker of the night, focused his speech on the topic of "Transformative Constitutionalism" and the potential ways that a legal document can have the power to act as a tool of transformation and change. Finally, last speaker Prof. Dr. Herdegen touched on the most important aspects and arguments of his predecessors and expanded the scale of the discussion by comparing Namibian constitutional democracy to the situation in other countries. The panel discussion was then followed by an animated discussion between the speakers and the more than 90 participants who found their ways to the NamPower Convention Centre that night.

A hard copy of the new publication "Beyond a quarter-century of Constitutional Democracy in Namibia- Process and Progress" will be available at the office of the KAS Namibia-Angola soon. A softcopy for download will also be available on this homepage promptly. Please contact KAS Programme Manager Anna Wasserfall for any questions regarding the publication's availability.


Anna Wasserfall

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Namibia, March 30, 2017