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TITLE:  NAMIBIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                            
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Namibia is a functioning multiparty, multiracial democracy, 
whose Constitution contains an entrenched bill of rights 
providing for freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, 
and religion.  The Government is headed by President Sam 
Nujoma, leader of the South West Africa People's Organization 
(SWAPO), which won Namibia's first free elections in November 
1989.  While SWAPO enjoys majority control in both houses of 
Parliament, the multiparty opposition exercises its 
responsibilities freely and vigorously.

The main security force is the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), 
comprising former troops of the People's Liberation Army of 
Namibia (PLAN--SWAPO's military wing) and the South West 
African Territorial Force (SWATF) that battled each other prior 
to independence.  NDF and police members were accused, and in 
some cases convicted, of crimes against civilians during the 

The Namibian economy has two major components--a modern market 
sector that produces most of its wealth and a traditional 
subsistence agricultural sector (mainly in the north) that 
supports most of its labor force.  Mining, ranching, and 
fishing, the mainstays of the market sector, are still largely 
controlled by white Namibian businessmen.  The Government 
continued to stress the leading role of the private sector and 
encouraged new investments by indigenous and foreign 
entrepreneurs on the basis of the investment code adopted in 
December 1990.

Namibians enjoy a wide range of civil, political, and economic 
liberties.  Controversy continued, however, over SWAPO's 
incomplete accounting for missing detainees formerly held in 
Angola and Zambia during the preindependence period.  The 
Government's restrictive policies on refugees and the alleged 
forced deportations of asylum seekers were also criticized.  
Preindependence problems of racial discrimination and 
disparities--especially in education, health, employment, and 
working conditions--continued in 1993, despite efforts by 
Government to reduce inequities.  While the Constitution 
prohibits discrimination based on race and other factors, a 
number of apartheid-based laws related to areas such as 
property, business, and labor, dating from before independence, 
have not yet been repealed or replaced and remain valid.  
Limited measures were taken to try to reduce societal violence 
and other discrimination against women, but serious inequities 
remained.  A number of police and defense force members were 
charged, convicted, and dismissed from service for criminal 
offenses against civilians, including murder, assault, and 
theft but there continued to be instances of such abuses.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings during 1993.  Several cases of political killings 
which occurred prior to independence, including that of SWAPO 
activist Anton Lubowski, who was assassinated in Windhoek in 
September 1989, remained unsolved.  The confidential police 
investigation into Lubowski's killing, completed in May 1993, 
was passed to the magistrate's court for inquest proceedings, 
which had not taken place by year's end.  A local newspaper 
alleged, however, that high-ranking officials of the 
preindependence police and military forces planned his 
killing.  The officers named in the allegation have brought 
court action against the newspaper under libel laws.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances occurring during 1993.  
Nevertheless, attention continued to be focused on the 
disappearances of persons detained by SWAPO prior to 
independence.  The number of SWAPO detainees still unaccounted 
for ranges from 154 to 256.  Controversy surrounding this issue 
is likely to continue until the Government conducts and 
releases the results of a full investigation.

In June the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 
issued its final report on its tracing efforts, which ran from 
November 1991 to April 1993.  The ICRC noted that SWAPO 
responded to only a small fraction of the ICRC's inquiries 
during that period and urged family members to approach SWAPO 
directly for additional information.

Another outstanding issue is whether persons deemed responsible 
for past human rights abuses would be held legally accountable 
and whether current government officials credibly linked to 
serious human rights abuses in the preindependence period 
should be permitted to remain in office.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution states that "no persons shall be subject to 
torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or 
punishment."  However, there were over 20 allegations of 
torture or other abusive treatment by police and security 
forces during 1993.  These incidents were all highly publicized 

Controversy erupted in March when Simon Ananias, a NDF member 
convicted of the murder of a 10-year-old boy in Rehoboth in 
1990, was released under a presidential pardon.  Ananias had 
served only 4 months of a 10-year sentence at the time of the 
pardon.  Opposition political parties and the press criticized 
the fact that of over 500 prisoners released at the same time, 
Ananias was the only one convicted of a violent crime.

In April a former SWAPO detainee alleged that he was stopped by 
a joint police/NDF patrol in Windhoek after his vehicle ran out 
of gas.  The individual alleged he was singled out for 
questioning after being recognized as a former detainee, forced 
into a police van, blindfolded, and taken to an unknown 
location, where he was severely beaten and interrogated about 
his loyalties to the SWAPO Party.  He was detained in the city 
jail overnight on drunk driving charges before being released 
the following day.  The individual subsequently filed charges 
against the police and the NDF and is being represented by the 
Legal Assistance Centre (LAC).  Senior government officials 
claimed, however, that the individual's injuries were sustained 
in an ongoing altercation at the time of police arrival.  The 
case was pending in the courts as the year ended.

In another case, three NDF members carried out the unprovoked 
beating of a farming couple near the northern town of Outjo in 
late June, using a tire iron and empty bottle.  The three 
soldiers were arrested and charged with assault by the civilian 
courts.  The case had not yet come to court by the end of the 

In September a female refugee at the Osire camp formally 
charged a police official with assault, torture, and degrading 
treatment.  She also alleged that at least two police and camp 
officials knew of male refugees raping women in the camps and 
allowed the crimes to continue unabated and without official 
intervention.  The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) 
agreed to press her case in court.  She has since left Namibia, 
and court authorities are unable to prosecute the case without 
her participation.  Other refugees also said they were 
reluctant to report cases of mistreatment by police and camp 
officials because they feared alleged "troublemakers" would be 
arbitrarily deported.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution forbids arbitrary arrest or detention, and the 
Government has generally respected these provisions.  According 
to the Constitution, persons who are arrested must be informed 
of the reason for their arrest "promptly in a language they 
understand," and they must be brought before a magistrate 
within 48 hours of their detention.  A trial must take place 
within "a reasonable time," or the accused must be released.  
The accused are entitled to defense by a legal counsel of their 
choice; the state provides a lawyer for the indigent.

Some traditional leaders, however, reportedly continued to 
detain and imprison persons accused of minor offenses without 
recourse to police or judicial review.  The Government 
repeatedly condemned these actions and called upon the public 
to report such practices to the authorities.  It also undertook 
to train traditional leaders in the constitutional exercise of 
their powers.

There were no reports of Namibians being exiled for political 
reasons in 1993.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Namibia has an independent judiciary.  Under the Constitution 
all citizens have the right to a fair trial, and this right is 
afforded in practice.  Namibia has retained the Roman-Dutch 
court system it inherited from South Africa, while also 
maintaining a traditional court system.  The formal system has 
three levels: magistrate's court, the High Court, and the 
Supreme Court.  The last also serves as the court of appeals 
and as a constitutional review court.  The tenure of sitting 
judges was not affected by the 1990 change of government.

Traditional courts have long dealt with minor criminal 
offenses, such as petty theft and infractions of local customs, 
among members of the same ethnic group.  A special presidential 
commission, created in 1991 to make recommendations on the 
prospective jurisdiction of traditional courts, presented its 
findings to the President in April.  It concluded that 
traditional cultural practices and structures should be 
maintained, provided they were consistent with constitutional 
protections and existing laws.  Enabling legislation was 
drafted in late 1993 with respect to the powers, duties, and 
functions of traditional leaders, and the establishment of 
"community courts" to bridge the existing gap between 
traditional and magistrates' courts.  This legislation had not 
yet been presented to Parliament as the year ended.  

The Constitution provides guarantees that persons claiming that 
their fundamental rights have been violated may seek redress in 
court and request free legal advice from the ombudsman.  The 
lack of sufficient, qualified magistrates, however, continued 
to exacerbate the backlog of cases awaiting trial.  Other 
delays resulted from the lack of legal counsel--fewer than 100 
lawyers were engaged in private practice in Namibia in 1993; 
fewer than 10 of these were black.  The Government appointed 
the first public defender in July and provided renewed funding 
under its legal aid scheme to permit indigent defendants equal 
access to legal representation.  During the year, the 
Government, in conjunction with the University of Namibia, also 
established a "Justice Training Centre," which is to provide 
additional legal training to magistrates and community court 

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Constitution provides all citizens with the right to 
privacy and requires arresting officers to secure a judicial 
warrant for certain listed offenses before conducting a 
search.  These rights were respected in practice.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for these fundamental freedoms, 
including academic freedom in institutions of higher learning, 
and states that these rights may not be suspended except in 
time of war or during a state of emergency.  In practice, these 
freedoms are respected.

The government-owned Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) 
operates virtually all radio and television services.  A 
broadly representative government-appointed board sets policy 
for the NBC.  Although the NBC routinely gave prominent 
coverage to the activities of government officials, it also 
provided significant coverage to the opposition and viewpoints 
critical of the Government.  During the year, an independent 
media board was established to review applications and award 
radio and television licenses to private companies.  One such 
"community radio station" was established in Windhoek in 1993 
and began broadcasting.  Print journalism in Namibia remained 
free and vigorous.  During the year, four dailies, two 
biweeklies, and three weekly newspapers of general interest 
were published.  There was no apparent self-censorship by 
journalists, aside from the constraints of libel and 
pornography laws.  There were no restrictions on academic 

     b.  Freedom of Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association.  During 1993, various organizations, including 
political parties and religious groups, held large meetings and 
public gatherings without interference.  Police permits are 
required for large, publicized public gatherings, and there was 
no indication that any such permit requests were denied.  Other 
spontaneous public gatherings, including protests to local 
governments over inadequate police protection against 
criminals, particularly thieves and cattle rustlers, took place 
without incident.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is no state religion and no restrictions on the 
activities of particular religious groups or on foreign clergy 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution guarantees the rights to move freely 
throughout Namibia, to reside and settle in any part of the 
country, and to leave and return.  These rights are respected 
in practice.  Nevertheless, the local press, local 
nongovernmental organizations (NGO's), and opposition political 
parties repeatedly criticized the Government's handling of 
citizenship and refugee issues.

Much of the criticism focused on the lack of a consistent 
refugee or asylum policy.  At midyear, the Cabinet recommended 
that the Government accede to the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating 
to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 
Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention, as had been 
urged by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and 
local human rights organizations.  Legislation to this effect 
is expected to be considered in Parliament for debate and 
enactment in early 1994.  The Government expressed prior 
reservations, however, over Article 26 of the 1951 Convention 
(concerning freedom of movement and residence).  Such 
reservations effectively kept virtually all refugees, including 
519 of the total of 569 recognized by both the Government and 
UNHCR, at the Osire refugee camp, located in a remote area some 
120 miles northeast of Windhoek.  Refugees are prohibited from 
working outside the refugee camp.  Those discovered to be 
working were arrested for immigration violations.  The only 
exception to the requirement to reside at Osire involved 
beneficiaries of UNHCR scholarships, who could reside and study 
at the University of Namibia in Windhoek.

The NSHR and opposition political parties alleged that a number 
of persons seeking refugee status were deported or jailed under 
ordinary immigration law upon their arrival in Namibia.  These 
reports, involving as many as 100 people, could not be 
independently substantiated.  An interministerial government 
committee reviews refugee and asylum claims on a case-by-case 
basis.  Between January and September 1993, this committee 
reviewed 67 cases, and 5 candidates had been accepted as 
refugees.  Six cases were denied, while 56 were still pending 
final determinations in late 1993.

Opposition parties accused the security forces of abducting 
several dozen Namibian citizens and residents and delivering 
them to Angola for conscription into that country's armed 
forces.  The Government stated that only undocumented Angolan 
nationals were involved, all of whom had agreed to return to 
Angola.  Because the Angola/Namibia border is relatively open 
and arbitrarily divides several ethnic groups, there is often 
confusion as to who is "Angolan" and who is "Namibian".

Repatriation from Botswana of the descendants of Herero 
speakers who fled Namibia during the 1904-07 war against the 
Germans commenced in mid-1993.  Approximately 1,600 persons had 
entered the country by mid-September.  Under this program, 
several thousand persons may ultimately resettle in Namibia 
with government assistance and obtain Namibian citizenship.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Constitution stipulates the right of citizens to change 
their government, and this right is enjoyed in practice.  All 
adult Namibians are able to participate in the political 

The Constitution established a bicameral Parliament and 
provides for free general elections by secret ballot every 5 
years and regional elections every 2 years.  National elections 
held in 1989 and 1992 were characterized as generally free and 

Seven political parties are represented in the National 
Assembly.  The SWAPO-led Government has 45 of the 78 seats and 
the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), the major opposition 
party, holds 21 seats.  Five small parties are also 
represented.  The DTA, together with the other non-SWAPO 
parties in Parliament, can block constitutional changes, which 
require a two-thirds majority of all members.  The National 
Council, the upper house of Parliament, consists of 19 SWAPO 
members and 7 DTA representatives.

Women have become increasingly involved in the political 
process.  Three women hold positions at the cabinet or 
subcabinet level.  Several women hold seats in the Parliament.  
Women's groups are active in civic and political activities.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Local organizations such as the National Society for Human 
Rights (NSHR) and the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) operated 
freely, criticizing the Government's handling of the SWAPO 
detainee issue, the treatment of refugees, misconduct by 
members of the police and defense forces, and other matters.

The LAC, which also focused on legal education and women's 
rights, continued to work with the Ministry of Education and 
Culture in developing a constitutional curriculum for schools 
and offered lectures on human rights issues for police cadets 
and defense force trainees.

International human rights organizations were free to travel to 
Namibia and discuss human rights issues with governmental and 
nongovernmental representatives.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Women's rights are protected by the Constitution, but 
discrimination against women, stemming from pervasive cultural 
and traditional practices of all races, persisted.  Several 
women's groups continued to seek an end to these inequalities 
and took particular exception to the fact that men are not 
required to provide economic support for their children in case 
of divorce, resulting in many indigent single mothers.  
Government leaders were sympathetic but had not introduced 
necessary amending legislation in Parliament by year's end.  
During 1993, the traditional leaders of several indigenous 
ethnic groups stated that they would honor a nonbinding 
parliamentary resolution condemning the traditional practice of 
family members confiscating property and other assets of 
deceased men from their widows and children.

Nevertheless, residual inequalities in the law and in education 
and employment opportunities continued.  For example, a woman 
is considered a ward of her father until she marries, at which 
time she becomes a ward of her husband.  Any property brought 
into a marriage by a woman is transferred to the ownership of 
her husband, who has the authority to decide its disposition 
without her consent.  Under existing community property laws, 
married women of all groups are defined as legal minors and 
need written consent of the husband before they may legally 
acquire or purchase property or enter into a legal contract.  
Women were not barred from pursuing higher education but, due 
to prevailing social norms, remained primarily in the clerical, 
secretarial work, teaching, medical, and domestic service 

Violence against women remained widespread, particularly 
physical beating and rape.  Because of traditional attitudes 
regarding the subordination of women, many cases of spousal 
assault were not reported to the authorities.  Women's groups 
and other women's rights advocates claim that police do not 
seriously pursue cases of spousal rape and assault, stating 
that they preferred not to interfere in domestic disputes.  
These groups also noted that prosecutions of and convictions 
for rape are rare.  In September a man was sentenced to 5 
years' imprisonment for murdering his common-law wife.  In the 
widely publicized verdict, the judge said a wife was not her 
husband's property.  In July the Namibian police opened a Women 
and Child Abuse Centre in Windhoek, with specially trained 
female officers to assist victims of sexual assaults.


Children's rights are enumerated and guaranteed in Article 15 
of the Constitution.  In practice, the Government has committed 
as many resources as its limited means allow for the protection 
of children's welfare.  In 1993 the Government allocated 29 
percent of its total budget (approximately $250 million) to 
education and other significant amounts to health and school 
feeding programs.

The police and courts vigorously prosecuted cases involving 
crimes against children, particularly rape and incest.  These 
issues were also discussed in printed material given wide 
distribution in Namibian schools.  The Women and Child Abuse 
Centre" (see above) also assisted in reducing the trauma 
suffered by abused children and in training police officials to 
handle this problem sensitively.

     Indigenous People

The Government continued to promote the civil, political, and 
economic rights of the indigenous majority of Namibians, who 
were deprived of land and many other rights during the recently 
ended colonial era.  It has implemented affirmative action and 
other programs to provide equal education and employment 
opportunities to all of its citizens.  The San people, 
Namibia's earliest inhabitants, have also been traditionally 
exploited by other indigenous ethnic groups.  The Government 
has endorsed the San's rights to land and traditional land-use 
patterns and supported the first regional meeting of Southern 
Africa's indigenous San, held in 1993.  The Ministry of 
Education and Culture also worked with the Nyae Nyae 
Development Foundation, a local NGO, to ensure that primary 
school teaching materials took San cultural sensitivities into 

During 1993, the Government (encouraged by members of the 
indigenous majority) also confirmed the principle that 
indigenous traditional cultural practices, including the 
dispensation of justice, allocation of communally held lands, 
and selection of leaders, were permissible, provided they were 
not in conflict with the country's Constitution.  Nonetheless, 
many indigenous Namibians were unprepared to exercise fully 
their civil and political rights as a result of their 
historically minimal access to education and economic 
opportunities under South African rule, coupled with their 
relative isolation in remote farming areas.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race and 
other factors and specifically prohibits "the practice and 
ideology of apartheid."  As a result of many years of South 
African administration, racial and ethnic discrimination were 
institutionalized in Namibian society and racial discrimination 
continues.  Many apartheid-based statutes which predate 
Namibia's independence remain valid until repealed or replaced 
by the Parliament.  Nonwhites complained that the Government 
was not moving quickly enough to mitigate the continuing and 
serious inequalities in education, health, housing, employment, 
and use of public accommodations.

Although several racial and ethnic groups charged the 
Government with bias toward the numerically dominant Ovambo 
ethnic group, these claims could not be objectively 
substantiated.  Some Afrikaans speakers alleged that the 
Government's policy of using English as the medium of 
instruction in schools violated their "cultural rights."  In 
addition, leaders of the "Baster" community in Rehoboth alleged 
that the Government had unconstitutionally appropriated 
communal lands at independence.  These charges were pursued 
through the courts, which had not yet rendered decisions as of 
late in the year.

     People with Disabilities

There were no reports of official discrimination on the basis 
of disability.  With limited financial resources, the 
Government attempted to provide the disabled with treatment and 
education.  Several local NGO's also were active in helping the 
disabled to become more socially and economically self- 
sufficient.  Although the Government did not require special 
access to public buildings for the disabled, some municipal 
governments, including those of Windhoek and Swakopmund, have 
installed ramps and special curbing at street crossings for the 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Namibia's Constitution provides for freedom of association, 
including freedom to form and join trade unions, a right that 
was extended to public servants, farm workers, and domestic 
employees under a comprehensive labor law.  Trade unions have 
no difficulty registering, and there are no government 
restrictions on who serves as a union official.  No union has 
been dissolved by government action.

Unions are independent of government and may form federations 
and confederations, of which two are significant.  The 
principal trade union organization is the National Union of 
Namibian Workers (NUNW), a SWAPO-aligned federation of 7 
industrial unions with 70,000 members.  Most workers in the 
mining industry, the country's key export sector, are members 
of the NUNW-affiliated Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN).  The 
principal public service and construction unions are affiliates 
of the Namibia People's Social Movement (NPSM), formerly known 
as the Namibian Christian Social Trade Unions Confederation.  
There are also several independent trade unions.  The bulk of 
the trade union movement maintains close affiliation to SWAPO 
and the Government.  Several prominent NUNW officials serve on 
SWAPO's Central Committee, and union leaders have served in the 
National Assembly.  The NPSM and other independent unions claim 
to be nonpartisan and in practice confine their activities to 
labor-management relations.  Roughly half of the wage sector is 
organized to some degree, although many workers within this 
group are only employed part-time.  Less than 20 percent of 
those wage earners employed full-time are organized, and few 
rural laborers are organized.

Namibian workers, except for those providing essential services 
(e.g., jobs related to public health and safety), enjoy the 
right to strike, once conciliation procedures have been 
exhausted.  The Labor Act extended the right to strike to 
public servants, farm workers, and domestics.  Under the Act, 
strike action can only be used in disputes involving worker 
interests, such as pay raises.

Disputes over worker rights, including dismissals, must be 
referred to the Labor Court (which has yet to be established) 
for arbitration.  The Labor Act also led to the creation of the 
Office of the Labor Commissioner, which mediates nonjudicial 
solutions to labor disputes arising among workers, employers, 
and government.

Legally striking workers also gained protection from unfair 
dismissal under the Labor Act.  An "unfair dismissal" is 
defined as one in which a "valid or fair reason" for 
termination or dismissal is "not in compliance with fair 
procedure."  Because by year's end no one had yet challenged a 
dismissal as unfair under the law, it is unclear what "unfair" 
means in practice.  Since independence, work stoppages over 
pay, dismissal, and pension issues have been relatively common, 
with most actions lasting 1 day or less.  Job actions of this 
type have occurred less frequently within the past year.  
However, in November Namibia witnessed its longest strike since 
independence, the 2-week work stoppage at Consolidated Diamond 
Mines (CDM) in Oranjemund.  

The strike began on November 15 after negotiations between CDM 
management and the Mineworkers' Union of Namibia (MUN) over an 
increase in pay ended in stalemate.  Initially, CDM offered an 
8.5 percent basic increase, while the MUN had demanded 15 
percent.  From the outset, the work stoppage was acrimonious, 
and there were several reported injuries on the picket lines 
when nonunion CDM workers and the striking mine workers 
confronted each other.  Several days into the strike, 
negotiations stalled as charges of "illegal picketing" and 
"assault" were raised by CDM, while the union contended that 
the mine was hiring on a new, "strike breaking" work force.  
CDM also insisted that its workers in essential services be 
allowed to cross picket lines.  From the mine's perspective, 
essential services included such areas as public health and 
safety, food preparation, and basic operation of the mine's 
infrastructure and utilities.  The union countered that 
management's definition of "essential" was too encompassing, 
although the two sides ultimately compromised.  The strike, 
which involved 3,500 workers and idled 5 on-shore mining 
facilities, was finally settled on November 29, when the 
parties agreed to a 10-percent wage increase for union members.

The work stoppage was costly for all concerned, in terms of 
lost profits, wages, and revenue to the Government.  Yet in 
spite of the apparent costs, the protracted strike was viewed 
by many as a major test case for the interpretation of 
Namibia's 1992 Labor Act.  These sentiments were summed up by 
one union leader as follows: "It seems that the (Labor) Act has 
got a lot of loopholes.  On face value, the Act appears to 
favor the union but in practice it does not, nor does it favor 
the company."  Labor Ministry officials announced in late 
December that the Government will introduce legislation in 1994 
to clarify certain provisions of the Labor Act, particularly 
those relating to overtime and essential services.

Trade unions are free to exchange visits with foreign trade 
unions and to affiliate with international trade union 
organizations.  The unions have exercised this freedom without 

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The 1992 Labor Act guarantees employees the right to bargain 
individually or collectively.  Collective bargaining is not 
widely practiced outside the mining and construction 
industries; wages are usually set by employers.  As unions 
become more active, however, informal collective bargaining is 
becoming more common.

The Labor Act provides a process for employer recognition of 
trade unions and protection for members and organizers.  The 
law also empowers the Labor Court to remedy unfair labor 
practices and explicitly forbids unfair dismissals, which can 
also be brought on appeal to the Labor Court.

When a dispute cannot be resolved directly, the first recourse 
is to a conciliation board, with a mediator and representatives 
from both sides.  The Office of the Labor Commissioner plays an 
integral role.  Conciliation boards have been used mostly in 
wage disputes and, to a lesser extent, to negotiate working 
conditions, overtime hours, and reinstatements of dismissed 
employees.  In almost all cases in which conciliation boards 
have been convened, the disputes were settled.

If, however, agreement cannot be reached via the current 
conciliation board route, the aggrieved parties have the option 
to strike, stage a brief protest walkout, or return to work (or 
continue to seek a solution via the conciliation board).  
Furthermore, the (current) law is not clear on what the parties 
in a dispute should do in instances in which they are not 
granted access to a conciliation board by the Labor 
Commissioner.  The Government is considering district labor 
courts as an alternate venue for the resolution of disputes.

Yet, even with the new Act, business-labor relations remain, 
for the most part, strained.  The unions appear to have little 
effective control over the mass of semiorganized, mostly black, 
urban unskilled workers, who are frustrated with the vestiges 
of the apartheid system which remain from the preindependence 

The only export processing zone (EPZ) is located in Arandis, 
where special tax incentives are available for export-oriented 
industrial developments.  The Government has no plans to 
suspend the provisions of the Labor Act in the EPZ as a means 
of attracting foreign investment.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced labor is prohibited by law.  Although there were no 
formal complaints filed with the Ministry of Labor in 1993, 
there were continuing reports that farm workers sometimes 
receive inadequate compensation for their labor and are subject 
to strict control by farm owners.  There were also reports in 
previous years of some farm workers being subjected to physical 
punishment by their employers.  Farm workers experienced great 
difficulties in gaining recognition of their working rights, 
due to the isolation of many rural areas and the resulting 
obstacles to organizing trade unions.  Moreover, it is 
sometimes difficult for Ministry of Labor inspectors to gain 
access to Namibia's expansive, privately owned commercial farms 
in order to document possible Labor Code violations.

There have also been reports that Namibian crews on fishing 
vessels have been required to work excessive hours without 
proper compensation or time off.

     d.  Minimum Age of Employment for Children

Under the 1992 Labor Act, the absolute minimum age for 
employment was 14 years, with higher requirements for certain 
sectors, such as 16 years for mining, manufacturing, and 
construction, 17 for underground work, and 18 for night work.  
Age regulations under previous legislation were generally 
enforced.  However, children below the age of 14 often work on 
family and commercial farms and in the informal sector.  Boys 
in the rural areas traditionally start herding livestock at age 
7.  The Labor Act empowers Ministry of Labor inspectors to 
enforce the prohibitions on child labor.  Once they become 
established, the labor courts will be able to hear criminal 
charges against violators.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no statutory minimum wage law in Namibia. The Labor 
Act provides for wage commissions to consider proposals for 
sectoral or geographical minimum wages.  Unskilled workers in 
the relatively well-paid mining sector earn about twice the 
amount earned by urban unskilled laborers.  Domestic workers 
earn much less.  In Windhoek's nonwhite townships, workers and 
their families have difficulty maintaining a minimally decent 
standard of living.  White Namibians earn significantly more on 
average than their black compatriots, in large part because 
whites own most of the country's productive resources and had 
preferential access to education that enabled them to take 
advantage of the skilled labor shortage.  Moreover, under the 
preindependence apartheid system, even qualified nonwhites were 
often barred from skilled jobs or did not receive equal pay for 
equal work.  The Government is aggressively attempting to 
address this problem through affirmative action hiring policies.

The standard legal workweek since independence was reduced from 
46 to 45 hours, including at least one 24-hour rest period per 
week.  No more than 10 hours per week of overtime may be 
required by an employer.  The law mandates 24 consecutive days 
of annual leave, at least 30 workdays of sick leave per year, 
and 3 months of unpaid maternity leave.  In practice, however, 
these provisions are not yet rigorously observed or enforced.

Government-mandated occupational health and safety standards 
are set by law, and the Labor Act empowers the President to 
strengthen these standards by issuing applicable regulations 
and enforce them through inspections and criminal penalties.  
The Government has carried out a national survey of health and 
safety standards but has yet to release any report or upgrade 
standards.  The law requires employers to ensure the health, 
safety, and welfare of their employees and provides for the 
right to remove oneself from dangerous work situations.

According to the Chamber of Mines, safety campaigns by the 
mining companies have reduced the combined reportable injury 
and fatality rate per 1,000 employees from 6.3 in 1980 to 3.5 
in 1991.  Although the MUN has frequently criticized Rossing 
Uranium's safety record, the company has consistently received 
high ratings from the British Safety Council and the 
International Atomic Energy Agency.  Overall, working 
conditions remained poor for employees in agriculture.

[end of document]


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