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SWAPO’s election manifesto

On 6 November 1989, the people of Namibia will be doing something they have been fighting for and dreaming about for over 100 years — they will be voting in an election for the party of their choice.

SWAPO have been in the forefront of this struggle for democracy in Namibia for 29 long years. Now, SWAPO have put their guns away and are preparing for a new battle — at the election polls. Their main weapon is their Election Manifesto.

In the Manifesto, SWAPO tell the Namibian people and the world about the oppression the Namibian people suffered under colonial rule —first under Germany, and then South Africa. The Manifesto also explains the changes that will be made in Namibia under a SWAPO government.

You can read about SWAPO’s plan of action below. We have changed the words here and there to make the Manifesto easier to read. But we have tried to keep the true meaning and spirit of the Manifesto.



SWAPO believes in solidarity, freedom and justice. These three ideals are the light that guide SWAPO’s thinking.

SWAPO will promote solidarity among all Namibian people. SWAPO believes that no nation or people should be allowed to oppress another.

Freedom means the right for all people to elect a government and for that government to decide how the land and resources are used. Freedom also means the right to life and personal freedom as well as the right to freedom of movement, speech, conscience, press, association and religion.

Every person will be equal before the law and will have the right to a fair trial. There will be no discrimination against people because of their colour, religion or sex.

SWAPO believes that freedom is the right for all people to have a say in decision-making and the way the coun-try is run. SWAPO will work to create a government that truly represents the people.

Justice means fairness for all people. A SWAPO government will make sure that there is social justice and freedom for all.


Namibia will be an independent country — it will make its own decisions. It will be a unitary country — all of Namibia will be one country. There will be no homelands. Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands are part of Namibia. It will be a secular country — the government will not rule according to any religion. It will be a democratic country — the people will vote for the government and the government will represent all the people of Namibia.

Namibia will have an independent constitution. All the people will have a say in the making of the constitution. The constitution will be the basic law of the land.

There will be a Bill of Rights that protects basic human rights. There will be a Head of State, a Cabinet and a Parliament. These will all be democratically elected. The first job of the Parliament will be to remove all apartheid laws.

There will be a new legal system which will work for all the people of Namibia. The courts will be independent of the government.


SWAPO will join the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC). The member countries of the SADCC help each other to become less dependent on the South African economy. They work together to make their economies stronger.

SWAPO will also join the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations (UN) as a way of helping to build unity, liberation, well-being and peace in the world.

SWAPO will support the people of South Africa in their struggle for liberation.

Namibia will be non-aligned — it will not be an ally of any of the big powers, like the United States or the Soviet Union. SWAPO will aim to promote friendship, co-operation, solidarity and non- interference with all other countries. Namibia will co-operate especially with other Third World Countries.


Any person who was born in Namibia, or has a parent or grandparent born in Namibia, or is married to a Namibian can be a citizen of Namibia. Foreigners who want to become Namibian citizens must have lived in the country for at least 10 years. No person can be a citizen of Namibia and another country at the same time.


All languages spoken in Namibia will be equally respected. Children in primary school will be taught in their mother tongue, and in English from then on. English will be the official language of the country.


There will be freedom of religion but there will be no official religion. No person will be forced to study religion if they do not want to.


SWAPO believes in the “moral superiority” of socialism over capitalism. SWAPO will make changes to the present system, in which foreign and local companies own and earn far too much, at the expense of the Namibian people. Under a SWAPO government, there will be state ownership, private ownership, co- operatives and family businesses. There will not be total nationalisation of the mines, land or industry in the forseeable future.

(a) Mining SWAPO will put a stop to corruption and foreign companies will have to pay more tax. They will have to put a big part of their profits back into Namibia.

(b) Farming and Land Land that belongs to farmers who own many farms and land where the owner does not live on the farm will be given to people without land. Tax from mining will go towards improving the land. Namibia will grow as much of its own food as possible and SWAPO will help all the people who work the land to do this. There will be state farms, co- operatives and private farms.

(c) Fishing The government will control all fishing in Namibian waters. Foreign ships will have to follow strict rules about where they can fish and how many fish they are allowed to catch. There will be state fishing companies, private companies and workers’ co- operatives.

(d) Wildlife and Tourism The government will create a conservation authority who will protect Namibia’s animals, plants and other natural resources and make sure they are no longer exploited.

(e) Economic independence A SWAPO government will find ways to break free from the unjust and false economic dependence on South Africa. Namibia will buy mining equipment from other countries. Instead of selling food at low prices to South Africa, Namibia will export to other countries where it can get a better price.


There will be special training in science and technology. Science and technology will be used to improve people’s lives.


SWAPO will provide public health centres, clinics and hospitals for all the people. The training of doctors and nurses will be at the top of the list. The government will set up primary health care services throughout the country to educate the people about preventing disease. Traditional healers will continue to play an important part in medicine.

There will be a Namibian National Red Cross. SWAPO will join the World Health Organisation in its goal of “health for all” by the year 2000.


There will be education for all. “Education will be the centre of the transformation of the Namibian society.”

Education will be compulsory for ten years. People in rural areas will have the same opportunities as people in the towns. SWAPO will help to set up nursery schools and training centres.

There will be a mass literacy campaign so that people can learn to read and write. Special attention will be given to disabled people — like the blind and those hurt in the war. SWAPO will work for the development of a people’s culture by encouraging arts and crafts, architecture, music, dance, film, language and literature. They will build museums and community centres.


SWAPO will aim to make life better for people in rural areas. SWAPO will give support to rural development projects such as schools, hospitals, dams, co- operatives, self-help housing committees, water wells and so on.


There will be regional, district, municipal and village units of local government. All people in local government will be democratically elected. Chiefs and traditional leaders will play an important part in local government.

A SWAPO government will work towards decent houses for all. People who earn very little money will be helped by the government to build or improve their houses.


Women will have full and equal rights. There will be equal pay for equal work. Women will have the right to paid, maternity leave and job security. The state will provide free child care centres. Sexual harassment at work will be against the law.

It will be law that a certain number of women must be part of the decision- making bodies in government, trade unions, political parties and so on.


There will be education and training programmes for the youth and students. The youth and students will have the right and freedom to form independent organisations. SWAPO will set up a Ministry of Youth Affairs. SWAPO will aim to create as many jobs as possible for the youth. Young people who are victims of the war will be given special help.


SWAPO will make new labour laws to protect workers’ rights. Under the new law employers will have to pay a minimum or living wage to workers. Employers must provide housing subsidies, life and health insurance, annual and maternity leave and respect health and safety standards. The contract labour system will be done away with and migrant workers will be able to live with their families. Workers will be able to work anywhere and in any job.

Workers will have the right to organise themselves into trade unions. This will include domestic workers and farm workers. SWAPO will start worker education programmes.


SWAPO will keep an army to defend the country but it will live in peace with neighbouring countries. There will be a compulsory two year military service for all men of 17 years of age. The families of soldiers who died in the struggle for independence will be looked after by the state. The Namibian army will help the people — for example, by working in farming and building.


SWAPO believes that freedom of expression is a basic human right. Under a SWAPO government, there will be state owned media and other media. Journalists will play an important role in promoting democracy and people’s power.


SWAPO will create an Office of the Ombudsman, whose job will be to make sure that the people’s money is used correctly and that there is no corruption.


SWAPO will make a strict finance policy to make sure that the right taxes are paid by companies and individuals. This money will be spent for the good of the country. The people’s money will not be wasted.


SWAPO will respect the democratic principle of elections in which all adults can vote.


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