Parliament is a neutral place where legislators meet to talk, discuss and consult frankly with each other on political, social and economic issues and their legal implications on society. It consists of elected and/or nominated representatives responsible for making and changing the laws of the country.

Namibia has passed from an eras in which the law-making processes were communal, and colonial rule where laws and administrative decision making were totally in the hands of the colonising countries.

The country went through a struggle for liberation which culminated in its Independence in 1990, when a Parliament that is truly representative of the Namibian people was established, based on the results of general elections. However, the traditional law-making process that was suppressed during the colonial period survived and the result of this historical development is the two legal systems namely, customary and statutory laws, that exist side by side in Namibia today.

Pre-Colonial Period

The common names of traditional institutions of law making included, amongest others /abe-/haos in Khoekhoegowab (Damara/Nama) , Oshoongalele in Oshiwambo, Ombungarero in Otjiherero, Kgotla in Setswana, Khuta in Silozi. These earlier councils existed and functioned on the basis of the society.

The Parliament of Namibia consists of the National Assembly and the National Council, together forming the Legislative arm of Government.
The National Assembly consists of 72 voting members, elected for a term of five years on the basis of proportional representation, plus an additional six non-voting members appointed by the president.

The National Council was formed in accordance with chapter eight of the Namibian Constitution, on February 1993, after the regional elections held in November 1992. The Regional Councils Act, Act 22 of 1992 is a result of a Constitutional provision. The National Council consist of 26-members, elected for a term of six years, from each of the 13 geographic regions. The National Council reviews bills passed by the National Assembly and recommends legislation on matters of regional concern for submission to and consideration by the National Assembly.

Article 63 and 74 of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia clearly outlines the wide-ranging functions and powers of the two Houses of Parliament.

Laws are a system of rules that everyone in a country or society recognises as regulating the actions of its members and which can be enforced by the imposition of penalties. The purpose of laws is to maintain peace and order within a country.
The Constitution of the Republic of Namibia is the supreme law in the country. No Namibian law may contradict the Namibian Constitution.
The Cabinet, a Line Ministry or Government Department, a Member of Parliament (MP), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), or any private citizen can propose a law. In the case of a Government Bill, the responsible Ministry must draft a proposal and submit it to Cabinet for approval.
Once verified by the Attorney General as in line with the Namibian Constitution, approved by Cabinet and tabled before Parliament, the draft is called a Bill. A Bill tabled by a Member of Parliament who is not a Minister, is called a Private Member’s Bill, and needs no Cabinet approval.
The Bill is introduced in the National Assembly (NA) in what is known as a First Reading Stage. It then becomes a public document and available to any member of the public who is interested in it.
During the Second Reading Stage the Minister or the Private Member who tabled (sponsored) the Bill explains why the Bill is needed.
Members then discuss the principle of the Bill and may approve or reject the Bill in principle, that is whether the Bill is necessary or not. If rejected by a majority of the Members, the Bill is taken ‘off the table’. It may be re-introduced within 30 days with or without changes.
If its principle is approved, the details of the Bill are then discussed during what is called the Committee Stage by the Committee of the Whole Assembly where all MPs consider it clause by clause. During the Committee Stage any Member may propose an amendment to a clause which is then discussed and voted on. If there are serious objections, the Bill can either be voted on or be referred to a Standing Committee. Standing Committees are smaller groups of Members of Parliament elected from all political parties to examine Bills and other documents in detail.
Standing Committees are appointed for specific subject matters such as economics, human resources and International Relations or any subject matter necessary or required. Committees seek input from experts and the broader public by calling in individual persons or by holding public hearings. Based on its findings, a Committee may recommend changes on specific aspects of the Bill to the House. Committees are not considering or mandated to pronounce themselves on the principle of the Bill.
Once the National Assembly adopts the recommendations, the Bill goes to the Third Reading Stage. At this stage a majority vote of the House is necessary to approve the Bill and no further debate is allowed.
The Bill is then referred to the National Council for review. The legislative stages followed in the National Council are the same as those in the National Assembly.
If the National Council passes the Bill with amendments, it goes back to the National Assembly for further discussion. However, the National Assembly is not compelled to adopt the amendments proposed by the National Council. If, after reconsideration, the Members of the National Assembly reject the amendments of the National Council, the proposed amendments are disregarded.
The Bill must be signed by the President of the Republic before it becomes a law. It is then published in the official Government newspaper – the Government Gazette – as an Act of Parliament. The law comes into force either on the date of publication of the Government Gazette or a specific date to be published in the Government Gazette by the Minister responsible for that Act of Parliament.
How do I contact Namibian Representatives (I.e. Embassies, High Commissions, etc.) abroad?
For a list of Namibia embassies and consulates abroad click here. What is the Government Gazette?
The Gazette is an official Government publication. Government uses it to publish acts and bills, regulations and notices in terms of acts, changes of names, company registrations and deregistration, financial statements, land restitution notices, liquor licence applications and transport permits. Board and legal notices are also published in the Gazette; these cover insolvencies, liquidation and estate notices. How do elections work?
Visit the web site of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) which includes information on Namibia elections, how to register as a voter, on compiling and publishing voters rolls, registering political parties and voter education. I want to visit Namibia Where do I find information?
The Namibian Tourism and Ministry of Environment and Tourism web sites provide information on tourist attractions, destinations, contact information and links.

Where do I find information on Namibian history?
Visit the Namibia portal for information on Namibia. Historical documents may be obtained from the National Archives of Namibia, 1-7 Eugene Marais Street, WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA, P O Box: Private Bag 13349.

Where do I find information on public holidays?
The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology publishes annual holidays on their website. Click here to visit their website.

Where do I find information on the National Symbols?
The Namibia portal contains full explanations of the National Symbols, i.e. the Namibian Flag, the Coat of Arms, the National Seal and the National Anthem.

Where do I find the contact details for The President, Ministries, National Government Departments, Government Bodies and Institutions?
Government Contacts are available on Organizations/Ministries/Agencies on which that leader is allocated. Visit Namibia Portal for Central, Regional and Local Government as well as Legislation Organs.

Where do I obtain electronic and printed copies of bills and acts?
The Parliament website contains electronic copies of some:

Hard copies are available at Parliament Library and can contact them at:

Tel: +264 61 288 2510
Fax: +264 61 239419

Official Name: Republic of Namibia
Head of State: President Dr Hage G. Geingob
Legislature: Bicameral Parliament
Capital City: Windhoek (largest city)
Currency: Namibian Dollar (NAD)
Official Language: English
Area: 825,418 km2

Parliamentary Terms

Act: A law passed by Parliament.
Adjournment: Termination of a sitting of the House.
Appropriation Bill: A Bill granting authority to spend public money or to incur expenses for the needs of the state .
Presidential Assent: The President’s consent to sign a Bill passed by Parliament thereafter it becomes law.

Backbencher: A Member of Parliament who is not a Minister and usually occupies a back bench in the National Assembly.
Bi-cameral Parliament: A title for a Parliament that consist of two Houses.
Bill: A proposed law.
Budget: A financial statement or document released by the Minister of Finance, outlining the Government’s proposed economic and fiscal policies. A plan of how money should be spent over a period of time.

Candidate: A person who stands for election to Parliament.
Casting vote: A vote by the Presiding Member that breaks an impasse when vote in the Chamber are equally divided.
Caucus: A closed meeting of Members of Parliament belonging to a particular political party to decide on a matter.
Chairperson of the National Council: The Presiding Officer of the National Council.
Chamber: A hall in which all Members of a House meet to debate.
Clause: An individually numbered item in a Bill or law.
Clerk-at-the-Table: The most senior administrative officer in the Chamber.
Coalition: A combination of two or more political parties for the purpose of getting more presentation.
Committee: A small group of Members of Parliament selected or appointed to perform a specific function.
Committee Clerk: A staff member appointed to serve as secretary to a parliamentary committee.
Committee Stage: A stage during which a House examines a Bill in detail with a view to making changes where necessary.
Constituency: An electoral area.

Constituency Office: The office of a Member of Parliament in an electoral constituency.
Constituent: A person having a right to vote, and living in an electoral area.

Debate: A discussion of a bill/issue or proposition.

Election: The process of selecting (voting for) individuals to public office e.g Members of Parliament.
Electorate: The voters.
Enact a law: Making a law.
Executive: The President and Ministers.

First Reading: A stage in the passing of a bill – the first opportunity for Members of Parliament to debate the intent of a Bill.

Gallery: Public-seating areas in the National Assembly and the National Council.
General Election: The election held to elect Members of Parliament.

Introduce a Bill: To present or table a Bill in Parliament.

Law: Binding rules by which society is governed.
Leader of Government Business: A Cabinet member who co-ordinates Government’s business in Parliament.
Leader of the Opposition: The leader of the largest opposition party in Parliament.
Legislation: Laws or statutes (Acts).
Legislative Process: The process by which laws are made.
Legislature: A law-making body – Parliament.

Mace: A ceremonial staff used in Parliament to symbolize the authority of a Presiding Officer overseeing the legislature.
Maiden Speech: The first speech made in the House by a new Member.
Member of Parliament (MP): A Member of the National Assembly or the National Council.
Minister: A Member of the Executive who is usually in charge of a government ministry.
Minority/Opposition party: A political party or parties which does or do not have a majority in Parliament.
Motion: A proposal by a Member to have a House discuss an issue.

Notice of motion: A notice by a Member of Parliament on his/her intention to move a motion.

Order Paper: The document which sets out the agenda for a House on a sitting day.
Order of the Day: The items of business written down on the Order Paper for consideration on a particular day.

Parliament: The national legislature, consisting of the National Council and National Assembly.
Parliamentary Procedure: The way in which Parliament conducts its business.
Petition: A document presented to Parliament, signed by a person(s), requesting that a certain course of action be taken or not be taken.
Point of Order: An interjection on the correct procedures to be followed.
Presiding Officer: The Member controlling the debate in the Chamber.
Press Gallery: The area in a Chamber set aside for accredited members of the media.

Quorum: The minimum number of MPs required to start a meeting.
Quorum of the National Assembly: Thirty seven (37) members (50% +1), excluding non-voting members.
Quorum of the National Council: Fourteen (14) members out of a total of 26.

Recess: The period between Sessions of Parliament.
Referendum: A process for deciding on a matter of public policy through a public vote by registered voters.
Resolution: A decision by the whole House or a Committee.
Ruling: An authoritative decision made by a Presiding Officer on matters of procedure.

Second Reading: The stage in the passage of a Bill at which the House agrees to a Bill.
Secretary: The most senior staff member at Parliament who deals with daily administrative duties.
Sergeant-At-Arms: The officer, who leads the Presiding Officer in and out of the Chamber, and carries the Mace.
Session: The period between the time the House first meets until it is suspended for recess.
Sitting: The period between the time the Presiding Member takes the Chair and the time the House is adjourned for the day.
Speaker: The principal Presiding Officer of the National Assembly.
Standing Committee: A permanent group of Parliamentarians composed of members elected by each party to whom matters relating to a given subject may be referred for closer examination.
Statutes: Laws or Acts of Parliament.
State of the Nation Address: An annual speech by the President, to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council, outlining the state of affairs in the country and Government’s intentions.

Table: The table immediately in front of and below the Presiding Officer’s chair.
Tabling: A formal presentation of a document to the House by a Member.
Third Reading: The final stage during which a Bill is passed.
Title (Short): The title of a Bill or Act by which it is known.

Vacation of a Seat: The act of a Member ending his/her membership of Parliament.
Vote: *To choose a candidate or party in an election. *To take a stand for or against an issue. *Questions are put to a vote in the House. * The parts of an Appropriation Bill detailing the authority to spend public money or incur expenses are called votes.
Vote of no Confidence: the act of Members expressing their distrust in the ability of a Member or a party to continue with duties.

Whip: A Member of Parliament, elected by his/her party to maintain and enforce discipline among fellow Members, notably to ensure attendance and voting in debates.
White Paper: A document outlining and detailing how a law is intended to be carried out.