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Data

Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Assessment for Europeans in Namibia

View Group Chronology

Namibia Facts
Area:    825,418 sq. km.
Capital:    Windhoek
Total Population:    1,600,000 (source: unknown, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References



Risk Assessment

Europeans in Namibia have a low risk of rebellion. They do not have a history of protest; nor do they experience government repression. The group is also highly advantaged. In addition, the Namibian government is democratic and stable. A factor that could encourage greater protest is the issue of land redistribution. Thus far, the Namibian government has taken great care to ensure that land reforms are not as antagonistic in Namibia as they have been in South Africa or Zimbabwe. However, pressure and violent threats from black laborers increase the potential for discontent amongst Europeans.

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Analytic Summary

Europeans in Namibia are found throughout the country, mostly in urban areas (GROUPCON = 1). They are racially distinct from other groups in Namibia, and they have their own social customs. Europeans in Namibia are descendents of German and South African colonizers. They are white and speak mostly Afrikaans (RACE = 3; LANG = 1).

Germany ruled Namibia, then South West Africa, from 1884 until World War I. Then, South Africa invaded in 1915 and was granted administrative authority by the Allied powers in 1919. Namibia did not gain independence until 1990. During the colonial period, Europeans occupied virtually all posts in the government, businesses and industry. As a result of this history, Europeans in Namibia are an economically advantaged minority. While there are affirmative action policies in favor of blacks, the majority of judges of the Constitutional and High Courts remain white and male. Similarly, there is a disproportionate representation of whites in media ownership and other professions. Consequently, as an advantaged minority, Europeans in Namibia do not encounter any political or economic discrimination (POLDIS06 = 0; ECDIS06 = 0).

Europeans' main grievance is protecting land from redistribution. In 1994, a Land Reform Bill was passed by parliament. It allowed the government to purchase any land on the market at any price determined by the Minister of Land, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation. The legislation also gave the government the right to force farmers to give up land, but only if they were not fully utilizing it or if they had an extensive number of farms. As of yet, nine to 12 farms have begun to be redistributed; however major implementation of these policies has yet to occur. The government lacks the cash to purchase land for redistribution and willing sellers are hard to find. Furthermore, the government seems loath to act more aggressively for fear of capital flight and economic dislocation. However, it is a sore point between the two groups and the current situation in Zimbabwe has heightened awareness of the issue.

Some Europeans, particularly those belonging to low-income groups, are concerned about the impact of affirmative actions in favor of black and coloreds. High crime rates on farms are also an issue. Many white farmers believe that they have been targeted for racial and political reasons; most police and academic studies show that perpetrators are common criminals motivated by financial gain. The other area of concern is protection of group language and culture.

Europeans in Namibia have pursued their interests through traditional political channels (GOJPA = 2). There is no history of rebellion. Since 1989, protest has ranged from verbal opposition to symbolic resistance, to small demonstrations. In 2004-2006, the only recorded instance of group protest was a verbal statement by a white farmers union (PROT04 = 1). The white Farmer's Union has been at the forefront advocating for the interests of white landholders. In addition, there are a few parties that represent white interests including the Action Christian National alliance (CAN comprised of the National Party of South West Africa and the Deutsche Aktion/Deutsche Sudwest Committee), the Monitor Action Group (MAG), and the multi-ethnic Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA). The Namibia Beyond 2000 Movement was formed by a group of black and white farmers to address the difficult issue of land reform.

In 2004, there was one instance of intergroup conflict in which a worker on a European-owned farm threatened the owner with a knife before leaving, but no intragroup conflicts (INTERCON04 = 1; INTRACON= 0). However, some black Nambians have been agitating for speedier land redistribution and higher taxes on commercial property. This could lead to intergroup conflict in the future.

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References

African Research Bulletin. Various reports. 1980-1994.

Cliffe, Lionel. 1994. The Transition to Independence in Namibia. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

LexisNexis. Various reports. 1990-2006.

Suzman, James. 2002. "Minorities in Independent Namibia." Minority Rights Group International. http://www.minorityrights.org/download.php?id=152, accessed 5/15/2008.

United States Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Namibia. 2004-2006

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Information current as of December 31, 2006