The legal framework for decentralisation

The foundation for decentralised governance in Namibia lies on the Constitution and the Regional Councils and Local Authorities' Acts of 1992. The latter have since been amended and various other legislation have been acted to assist with the implementation of decentralisation.


The Namibia Constitution

The Namibia Constitution, adopted in February 1990, is the fundamental law of a sovereign and independent Namibia. It provides for the establishment of sub-national governments and a system of decentralised government within the confines of a unitary state and national policies, ideals and values.

Article 102 (1) of the Constitution reads as follows: "For purposes of regional and local government, Namibia shall be divided into regional and local units, which shall consist of such regional and local authorities as may be determined and defined by Act of Parliament." Article 102 (2) further provides that "every organ of regional and local government shall have a Council as the principal governing body, freely elected in accordance with this Constitution and the Act of Parliament."

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The Regional Councils and Local Authorities' Acts

The sub-national governments - regional councils and local authorities - came into being in August 1992 through the enactment of the Regional Councils and Local Authorities Acts. Both acts provide for the determination and establishment of councils; qualifications and election of councillors; management committees of councils; top administrative management; powers, duties, functions, rights and obligations of councils; and financial matters in respect of both regional and local councils. These two Acts have been repeatedly amended over the years in order to allow for, amongst others, the involvement of the private sector in service delivery and the enhancement of the powers vested in the regional councils and local authorities. However, neither of the Acts has yet been amended to reflect and accommodate the functions earmarked for decentralisation by Parliament.

Decentralization Enabling Act (Act 33 of 2000)

The Decentralisation Enabling Act from 2000 governs the implementation of the Decentralisation Policy, and aims at enabling its smooth and effective implementation. This is done by giving the Act overriding effect vis-à-vis sector legislation, and by giving the Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development, upon Cabinet's approval, powers to decentralise functions currently performed by sector ministries. The Act makes provision for the implementation of the phases of delegation and devolution and is the most important legislation as far as the implementation of the Decentralisation Policy is concerned.

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Trust Fund for Regional Development and Equity Provision Act (Act 22 of 2000)

Also in 2000, the Trust Fund for Regional Development and Equity Provisions Act (Act 22 of 2000) was passed. The Act provides for financial and technical support to development projects in regions and local authorities. The Fund offers funding of development projects, as well as training and guidance in planning, appraisal, monitoring, evaluation, financing and implementation of development projects.