- Namibia has become the fourth country in the Southern African region to achieve 30 percent female representation in political and decision-making positions.
Three more women were appointed to parliament in Namibia in May, bringing to 24 the number of women out of a total 78 members in the National Assembly. This gives women 31 percent of the seats, up from the previous 27 percent.
The women were appointed on party lines to replace three members of parliament who had died or resigned, two from the ruling SWAPO party and one from the opposition.
Under Namibia's electoral system of proportional representation (PR), the electorate votes for party lists containing candidates presented by each party. If a candidate cannot take up their seat then the next person on the list is normally appointed.
Some political parties in countries using the PR system select women candidates for every second or third place on their list to ensure equitable representation.
According to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Namibia has shown "a consistent commitment" to ensuring women's equal participation in politics and decision-making as evidenced by the upward trend in the number of women in parliament.
At the last general election in 2004, the number of women in Parliament increased from 20 percent to 27 percent. At the same time Namibia appointed a woman, Libertina Amathila as Deputy Prime Minister.
Women were also appointed to the positions of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, as well as Minster of Finance.
With the latest appointments, Namibia becomes the fourth SADC country to attain the target set out in the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development in 1997, joining Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania in fulfilling this quota.
The voluntary party quota, and the PR system, is also used in South Africa and Mozambique, and thus it is no coincidence that these two have the highest representation of women in parliament in the region.
Tanzania has a constituency system of First Past The Post (FPTP) contested by both men and women, but the constitution guarantees that one-third additional seats are reserved for women, appointed under a PR system based on the number of seats each party wins in the election.
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