A. Nature and description of emergency COVID-19 measures
Article 26 of the Namibian Constitution provided for the state of emergency, state of national defence and Martial Law. Under article 26, at a time of national disaster or during a state of national defence or public emergency threatening the life of the nation or the constitutional order, the President may by Proclamation in the Gazette declare that a state of emergency exists in Namibia or any part thereof. This constitutional provision is reaffirmed in section 30 of the Disaster Risk Management Act No. 10 of 2012. Apart from the Constitution and the Disaster Risk Management Act, the frameworks that Namibia has adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are Regulations and Directives. Regulations are generally issued by the President while directives are issued by a relevant cabinet minister, with the authorisation of the President and approval of the Attorney General.
- Declaration of state of emergency: national disaster (COVID-19) proclamation 7 of 2020
On 17 March 2020, the President of Namibia declared a state of emergency, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration was premised on the provisions of Article 26(1) of the Namibian Constitution, read together with section 30(3) of the Disaster Risk Management Act, 2012 (Act No. 10 of 2012).
- COVID-19 regulations proclamation 9 of 2020
The COVID-19 Regulations Proclamation 9 of 2020 was issued by the President of Namibia on 28 March 2020. The regulation was issued by virtue of Sub-Article (5) of Article 26 of the Namibian Constitution and Declaration of State of Emergency: National Disaster (COVID-19) Proclamation 7 Of 2020. One of the important features of this regulation is that it is supreme to other existing laws in Namibia. In the event of a conflict between the provisions of the regulations and any other law, the provisions of the regulations prevail. The Regulations declared a country-wide national lockdown from 17 April 2020 to 4 May 2020. During the period of the lockdown, schools and higher education institutions were closed and public gatherings of more than 10 persons are prohibited. Annexure A of the Regulations divided Namibia into zones and generally prohibited the movement of persons and goods within or between zones. The regulations also prohibited the entry of non-citizens and non-permanent residents into Namibia during the period of the state of emergency. The regulation prohibited the sale and purchase of liquor and closed down all business operations except for businesses that are involved in the provision of essential services. The regulations created offences and penalties, prominent amongst them, is the criminalisation of misinformation and disinformation on issues related to COVID-19. The penalty for offences created by the regulation is a fine not exceeding N$2 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
- State of emergency covid-19: finance regulations
The State of Emergency COVID-19 Regulations was issued by the president on 15 April 2020. The regulation suspended the provisions of section 9(2) of the State Finance Act, 1991 (Act No. 31 of 1991). The suspension empowers the minister of finance to authorise the withdrawal of an amount of money exceeding three per cent of the total amount appropriated by the current Appropriation Act for the period from 9 April 2020 to 30 June 2020 in order to defray expenditure on services of a special nature as contemplated in section 9(1)(b)(ii) of the said Act.
- Suspension of operation of provisions of certain laws and ancillary matters regulations
The regulation was issued by the President on 28 April 2020. The regulation suspends the operation of provisions of certain laws; and deal with incidental matters arising from the suspension of the operation of the laws, by the President pursuant to Article 26(5)(b) of the Namibian Constitution. The suspension is generally subject to such conditions as are reasonably justifiable, for the purpose of combating, preventing and suppressing the spread of COVID-19, for the duration of the period of a lockdown or the State of Emergency, as applicable. The laws suspended by the regulation include Employees’ Compensation Act, 1941; Magistrates Court Act, 1944; Price Control Act, 1964; Arbitration Act, 1965; Prescription Act, 1969; Criminal Procedure Act, 1977; Supreme Court Act, 1990; High Court Act, 1990; Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act, 1992; Social Security Act, 1994; Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act, 1995; Public Service Act, 1995; Identification Act, 1996; Liquor Act, 1998; Standards Act, 2005; Environmental Management Act, 2007; Labour Act, 2007; Correctional Service Act, 2012; Electoral Act, 2014; Public Procurement Act, 2015.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitisers regulations
The regulation was issued by the Minister of Industrialisation and Trade on 30 April 2020. The purpose of the regulation is to declare that compliance with NAMS/SANS 490 published under General Notice No. 164 of 30 April 2020 is compulsory in terms of section 20(6) of the Act; stipulate the quality and safety requirements of hand sanitiser for consumer use as a hand disinfectant; include the terminology, formulations, packaging, marking or labelling requirements as they apply to a product, process or production process; and compel a manufacturer, an importer or a distributor to comply with the requirements of the NAMS/SANS 490, WHO recommendations and these regulations. the regulation mandated the registration of hand sanitisers and manufacturing facilities with the Namibian Standards Institutions.
- Stage 2: COVID-19 regulations
Stage 2 COVID-19 regulations were issued by the President on 4 May 2020. Stage 2 regulation introduced new changes to the covid-19 regulations of 28 March 2020. Notable among the changes is the increase of gathering to 50 persons; resumption of normal classroom contact education and training for vocational training centres, secondary schools and other educational institutions that provide secondary education at grade 11 or 12 level, schools and other educational institutions providing early childhood development learning, pre-primary learning and primary education at grade one to three as from 3 June 2020 and 22 June 2020 respectively. The stage 2 regulations also permitted the sale or purchase of liquor between the hours 12H00 and 18H00 on Mondays to Fridays and the hours of 09H00 and 13H00 on Saturday.
- Further suspension of operation of provisions of certain laws and ancillary matters regulations
The regulation was issued by the President on 4 May 2020. The regulation suspends the operation of provisions of certain laws, and deal with incidental matters arising from the suspension of the operation of the laws by the President pursuant to Article 26(5)(b) of the Namibian Constitution. Some of the affected laws under the regulation include Magistrates’ Courts Act, 1944, Price Control Act, 1964, Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, Supreme Court Act, 1990, High Court Act, 1990, Social Security Act, 1994 and Identification Act, 1996.
- Stage 1- state of emergency-COVID-19 regulations-Walvis bay local authority area
The regulations which were issued by the President on 29 May 2020, extended the stage 1 lockdown regulation for the Walvis Bay local authority area from 29 May 2020 to 8 June 2020. The regulations closed down all schools and higher education within the area and restricted gatherings to a maximum of ten persons.
- Stage 1- state of emergency-COVID-19 regulations Erongo region
The regulations which were issued by the President on 8 June 2020, extended the stage 1 lockdown regulation for the Erongo Region from 9 June 2020 to 22 June 2020. The regulations closed down all schools and higher education within the area and restricted gatherings to a maximum of ten persons.
- Stage 3-state of emergency-COVID-19 regulations Erongo region (22 June 2020)
The regulation was issued by the President on 22 June 2020. The regulation relaxed some of the measures adopted for the stage 1 state of emergency COVID-19 regulations in the Erongo region. The regulation allowed schools and other institutions that provide secondary education at Grades 11 and 12 level, to resume with normal classroom contact learning. The regulation also allowed the sale and purchase of liquor between the hours 12H00 and 18H00 on Mondays to Fridays, and between the hours of 09H00 and 13H00 on Saturday. The regulation applies to the Erongo region between 23 June 2020 and 6 July 2020.
- Stage 4- COVID-19 regulations (28 June 2020)
Stage 4 COVID-19 regulation was issued by the President on 28 June 2020. The regulation applies to the whole of Namibia from 29 June 2020 to 17 September 2020, with the exception of the Erongo region. The regulation generally relaxed the lockdown rules. Some of the notable rules relaxed by the regulation include the expansion of the definition of gathering to 250 persons and the resumption of contact classes for schools and educational institutions providing early childhood development learning, pre-primary learning and primary education at grade one to three levels on 7 July 2020, resumption of contact classes for schools and educational institutions providing primary education at grade seven and nine levels on 20 July 2020 and resumption of contact classes for schools and educational institutions providing primary education at grade four, five, six, eight and 10 levels on 3 August 2020.
- Stage 3-state of emergency-COVID-19 regulations Erongo region (6 July 2020)
The regulation was issued by the President on 6 July 2020. The regulation extended the stage 3 state of emergency regulations issued by the President on 22 June 2020 in the Erongo region from 7 July 2020 to 3 August 2020. Under the regulation, schools and educational institutions providing early childhood development learning, pre-primary learning and primary education at grade one to three levels may resume face to face learning on 7 July 2020; schools and educational institutions providing primary education at grade seven level secondary education at nine-level must remain closed but may resume face to face learning on 20 July 2020; and schools and educational institutions providing primary education at grade four, five and six-level and secondary education at grade eight and 10 levels must remain closed but may resume face to face learning on 3 August 2020.
- Stage 4- COVID-19 regulations (14 July 2020)
Stage 4 COVID-19 regulation was issued by the President on 14 July 2020. The regulation repealed stage 4 COVID-19 regulations of 28 June 2020. The regulation generally relaxed the lockdown rules. Some of the notable rules relaxed by the regulation include the expansion of the definition of gathering to 100 persons. The regulation however directed that schools and educational institutions providing early childhood development learning and pre-primary learning must remain closed until 31 August 2020; schools and other educational institutions providing primary education from the level of the first grade to the level of the seventh grade and secondary education at the level of the eight grade and the ninth grade must remain closed until 31 August 2020. The new regulation allowed schools and other educational institutions providing secondary education from the level of the tenth grade, eleventh grade and the twelfth grade as well as higher education institutions to continue face to face learning.
- Suspension of operation of provisions of certain laws and ancillary matters regulations 14 July 2020
The regulation was adopted by the President on 14 July 2020. The regulation suspended the application of the provisions of certain laws (similar to the laws suspended under the Suspension of Operation of Provisions of Certain Laws and Ancillary Matters Regulations) to the Erongo Region during the application of Stage 3 COVID-19 regulations to the Erongo Region.
- Stage 3-state of emergency COVID-19 regulations Erongo region (22 July 2020)
The regulation was issued by the President on 22 July 2020. The regulation extended the stage 3 state of emergency regulations issued by the President on 6 July 2020 in the Erongo region from 4 August 2020 to 31 August 2020. The regulation prohibits a person from providing a public transport service to any passenger or transport any passenger for reward if such transport would have the effect of violating the restriction relating to entry and departure from the Erongo region.
- Public health COVID-19 general regulations: public and environmental health act, 2015
The regulation was made by the Minister of Health and Social Services on 23 September 2020, in terms of section 29(1) of the Public and Environmental Health Act, 2015. The regulation applies to the whole of Namibia and comes into operation between 24 September 2020 and 21 October 2020. The regulation limited the sale of liquor from the time specified in the liquor licence until 18:00 on a weekday; and the time specified in the liquor licence until 13:00 on a Saturday. The regulation also allowed businesses, operations and activities to cooperate or be conducted during their normal times of operation.
Some amendments were made to the regulation by the President through a declaration on 16 December 2020. The declaration reduced the number of public gatherings to a maximum of 50 persons indoor and 100 persons outdoor. Bars, nightclubs, casinos and all restaurants are also required to close for business at 22:00, Monday to Sunday.
- Directions relating to judicial proceedings during the COVID-19 state of emergency
The directions were issued by the Chief Justice pursuant to regulation 13(1) of the State of Emergency COVID-19 Regulations on 29 April 2020. The directions regulated the activities of all courts in Namibia during the declaration of the state of emergency. With respect to criminal matters, the set down date of all cases set down during the period of the lockdown is to be postponed to a date specified in the Annexure, which Annexure the Chief Justice may amend from time to time. Additionally, no accused person, irrespective of his or her status, is required to attend any court proceedings during the period of lockdown. The categories of accused persons exempted are:
(i) accused persons brought to court as a first appearance in the Magistrate’s Court;
(ii) accused persons bringing a bail application;
(iii) accused person who is the appellant in an appeal against the refusal of bail.
The directions generally suspended the activities of the court with the following notable exemptions:
(a) applications brought as urgent applications in terms of the rules of the applicable court;
(b) bail applications;
(c) appeals against the refusal of bail;
(d) domestic violence matters;
(e) any case involving children issues;
(f) first court appearance in a criminal case; and
(g) solemnization of marriages in terms of the Marriages Act, 1969
- Determination on policy changes in response to economic and financial stability challenges, following the fallout of the covid-19 pandemic
The policy was issued by the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Namibia on 30 March 2020. The objective of the policy is to provide policy and regulatory changes amid economic challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia. One of the notable policy change is the Capital conservation buffer. The goal of the buffer was to further support banking institutions supplying credit to the economy, the Bank has reduced the Capital Conservation Buffer rate to 0 per cent for a period of at least 24 months. The capital conservation buffer enables Domestic Systemically Important Banks to use the capital they have built up during good times, to use during times of distress.
- COVID-19 pandemic: declaration of undesirable practice in terms of section 4(9) of the medical aid funds act, 1995 general notice 129 of 2020
The notice was issued by the Registrar of Medical Aid Funds on 2 March 2020. The declared as undesirable, the practice of the curtailment of the use of benefits that members are entitled to in terms of the Medical Aid Funds Act, 1995 (Act No. 23 of 1995) as an undesirable practice.
- Directive relating to regional councils and local authority councils
The directive was issued by the Minister of Urban and Rural Development on 21 April 2020. The directive enjoins Local authority councils to ensure that residents within its respective local authority areas have access to potable water.
- Directive relating to visiting hours of inmates, delivery of food items to inmates and issuing of permits to offenders and persons accompanying offenders during the period of lockdown.
The directive was issued by the Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security on 17 April 2020. Subject to certain exceptions, the directive generally prohibits ordinary visiting hours for inmates at correctional facilities during the period of lockdown.
- Directives relating to registered business entities and operational matters for retail traders and other businesses
The directives were issued by the Minister of Trade on 22 April 2020. The directives set out the conditions for the application of confirmation certificate for business entities that sells essential goods or provides critical services as required under the provisions of regulation 12 of the COVID-19 regulations of 28 March 2020.
- Health directives relating to COVID-19
The Health Directives relating to COVID-19 was issued by the Minister of Health and Social Services on 23 April 2020. The health directives enjoined the Ministry of Health to intensify public awareness messages and campaigns using all media avenues and platforms to reach every community member in all the regions. The directives also required providers of critical services must regularly disinfect the premises used for the performance of those services and the premises to which the workers or public has access; and ensure that the workers or persons who access their services in person are provided with disinfection before, during and after leaving such place of service. The Directive also required states and private medical practitioners must immediately report all suspected cases of COVID-19, whether positive or negative, to the persons designated by the Minister of Health and Social Services using the set case definitions as well as taking specimens and packaging according to the set standard operating procedures.
- Directives relating to the environment, forestry and tourism
The directive was issued by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism on 24 April 2020. The directive required that all national parks, game parks, and nature reserves are to be closed to visitors during the period of lockdown. The directives prohibited all tour operator and tourist guide activities are prohibited during the period of lockdown.
- Directives relating to open markets and informal trading during the period of lockdown
The directive was issued by the Minister of Urban and Rural Development on 24 April 2020. The directive generally provided compliance requirements for competent authorities to open or cause the re-opening of open markets where essential goods are sold or critical services are rendered; or any informal trading activity that relates to the selling of essential goods or rendering of critical services in their area of jurisdiction, during the period of lockdown.
- Labour directives relating to COVID-19
The directive was issued by the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation on 28 April 2020. The directive complements the Labour Act, 2007, to provide for health and safety at workplace. Under the directive, an employer must put in place safety measures at the workplace that will assist with the prevention of the further spreading of COVID-19. The directive allowed an employee who- considers his or her place of work to be dangerous due to COVID-19; considers his or her place of work not to be a safe and healthy environment due to COVID-19; or observes that safety measures have not been put in place to prevent the further spreading of COVID-19 to leave the place of work as provided for in section 42 of the Labour Act and not be penalised for invoking the provisions of that section. An employee who leaves the workplace for reasons contemplated under the directives, is in terms of section 42(3) of the Labour Act is entitled to the same conditions of service; and the same remuneration, during his or her period of absence. Under the directives, If an employee contracts COVID-19 or suffers from a COVID-19 related post-traumatic stress disorder during the course of his or her employment; and is eligible to receive benefits from the Employees’ Compensation Fund, the employee may receive such benefits in terms of the Employees Compensation Act, 1941 ( Act No. 30 of 1941) for industrial disease.
- Directives relating to works and transport
The directive was issued by the Minister of Transport on 29 April 2020. The directive addressed among other issues, the restriction on the number of persons to be conveyed in a motor vehicle, and suspension of expiry of licenses and other documents.
- Directive relating to child protection response during COVID-19
The directive was issued on 12 May 2020 by the Minister of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare. The directive provides a general framework on how to deal with children in an emergency situation, taking into account their physical and psychological vulnerabilities and associated risks; address challenges and provide guidance on how to respond to child-related cases of Covid-19, and ensure effective and efficient coordination and management of child protection services during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
- Directives relating to the fishing industry
The directive was issued on 15 May 2020. The directive regulates activities relating to fishing during the lockdown period. Under the directive, a person involved in fish production and value chain activities in order to harvest and process fish and fish products for Namibia as part of food production; or fishing by a fishing vessel, must do so under strict preventative measures of social distancing whereby persons must maintain a distance between them of at least one meter and have minimal contact with each other.
- Directives relating to the sale of liquor
The directive was issued by the Minister of Industrialisation and Trade on 10 June 2020. According to the directive, an on-consumption licence holder must not, in accordance with regulation 7(1) of stage 2 COVID-19 Regulations, sell liquor on the licensed premises for on-consumption, despite any contrary conditions applicable to the license holder’s on-consumption license. The directive however exempted hotel liquor license or restaurant liquor license. The directive also prohibited a person selling or purchasing a traditional liquor from selling or purchasing such traditional liquor for consumption at the place of the sale or purchase.
B. Democracy-related issues arising from COVID-19 responses of states
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the Electoral Commission of Namibia conducted Regional Council and Local Authority Elections in November 2020. In order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 during the 2020 Regional Councils and Local Authority election, the Commission developed a four-pronged approach namely, to:
- Implement measures to avoid or reduce the risk of crowding and person-to-person contact;
- Take precautions to avoid or reduce contact with contaminated surfaces and objects
- Introduce measures to protect highly vulnerable populations; and
- Engage healthcare services providers to avail healthcare services at strategic places with a potentially high number of patients.
From available research, the executive government of Namibia seems to have continued its operation during the lockdown period (at least in the early stages) remotely. By PMS Circular Ref. NO: 13/14/6/1, (Public Service Management Circular NO.6 of 2020) issued by the Office of the Prime Minister to all Executive Directors, National Assembly/National Council, Deputy Auditor-General, Chief Electoral Officer, Director: Namibia Central Intelligence Services, Director: Anti-Corruption Commission, Chief Regional Officer: Regional Councils, it was directed that all staff members in the Public Service must work from home for 14 days from 30 March 2020 to 16 April 2020, except those rendering essential services. On 8 June 2020, the Executive drew up a COVID-19 response organogram.
Following the declaration of a state of emergency, Parliament was suspended for 21 days by the President between 25 March 20202 and Thursday 14 April 2020.
The legality of the lockdown regulations issued by the President has been challenged in Court. In NEF & Ors v President of the Republic of Namibia & Ors, the Namibian Employers Federation challenged the legality of aspects of lockdown measures taken by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that case, the applicants, aggrieved by regulation 14 of the Regulations, and by regulation 19 (1) (a); 19(1)(b); 19(1)(c); 19(2); 19(4); 19(6); 19(8); and 25 of the Suspension Regulations, regulation 12(1)(a); 12(1)(b); 12(2); 12(5); and regulation 16 of the Further Suspension Regulations’; as well as regulation 15 of Stage 2 Regulations, approached the court on an urgent basis seeking an order declaring these regulations void and unconstitutional. Amongst the laws that were suspended by the Suspension Regulations are some provisions of the Labour Act 11 of 2007. Regulation 19 of the Suspension Regulations makes it an offence for an employer to terminate employment, force an employee to take leave, reduce the remuneration of an employee or refuse to reinstate an employee under specific circumstances. The crux of the applicant’s argument was that the regulations are retrospective in nature; that the President acted ultra vires Art 26(5) when he promulgated regulation 19 of the Regulations and regulation 12 of the Suspension Regulations; and that the President impermissibly delegated constitutional powers to ministers. The court held that, for the power conferred on the President by Art 26(5)(b) of the Namibian Constitution to be legally exercised, the regulations that the President makes must be for a specified period; and subject to such conditions as are reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation which has given rise to the state of emergency. The Court further held that the challenged regulations do not deal with the control or curtailing of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. According to the Court, the impugned regulations are not reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation which has given rise to the emergency and to that extent the President breached the principle of legality. On the issue of delegation of powers to Minister to make directives, the Court was of the opinion that the delegation of the power by the President to ministers to issue directives for supplementing and amplifying any of the provisions of the regulations constitutes an impermissible delegation of the President’s powers. The Court stated that the delegation of the approval of the ministers’ directives to the Attorney- General constitutes an impermissible delegation of the President’s powers. Overall, the Court held that regulation 14 of the Regulations, and regulation: 19 (1) (a); 19(1)(b); 19(1)(c); 19(2); 19(4); 19(6); 19(8); and regulation 25 of the Suspension Regulations, regulation 12(1)(a); 12(1)(b); 12(2); 12(5) and regulation 16 of the ‘Further Suspension Regulations’, as well as regulation 15 of Stage 2 Regulations are therefore unconstitutional and thus invalid.
- Transparency/ access to information
There is general access to information about COVID-19 status in the country. The information is constantly updated on the website of the Namibian Ministry of Health. However, there are no dedicated webpages for COVID-19 related information on the official website of the government.
- Abuse by law enforcement agents/exacerbation of authoritarian tendencies/power grabs
Research shows that there is no abuse by law enforcement agents that are connected with the enforcement of the COVID-19 laws and regulations. The incidents of police brutality that occurred within the emergency period seems to have been a continuation of existing tendencies of police brutalities
C. Human rights-related issues arising from covid-19 responses of Namibia
- Right to health
The Ministry of Health and Social Services is running a programme called the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI). When the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available in Namibia, it will be run as part of the EPI. As part of the COVID-19 response, the Ministry of Health and Social Service has been following with keen interest, the development of COVID-19 vaccine. We attended several international and regional strategic and scientific webinars and meetings to learn more about the candidate vaccines and their progression to Phase III of clinical trials evaluations. These include meetings organized by the World Health Organization (WHO); The African Union, Africa CDC, SADC and by the COVAX Facility – under the coalition of WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). In August 2020, Namibia established a multidisciplinary COVID-19 Vaccine National Task Force to ensure a well-coordinated approach to technical and logistic arrangements for the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine in Namibia. Namibia has developed a costed vaccine introduction plan and a costed community engagement and communication strategy which was approved by Cabinet. Namibia has joined the COVAX Facility to procure vaccine doses for 20% (508 200) of the population and has signed a Committed Purchase Agreement with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization that makes Namibia one of the first recipients of the vaccines. Namibia has also paid to COVAX 15% (N$28 952 154) of the total cost of N$193 014 360 upfront for over 1 million (508 200 x 2=1 016 400) doses of vaccine.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services stated that it has managed to secure an exemption from the Ministry of Finance to procure a supply of clinical supplies and pharmaceuticals to public health facilities. As a result, starting from November 2020 the Central Medical Store (CMS) Service Level (SL) to facilities now stands at seventy- six per cent (76%). According to the Executive Director, of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the aim of the Ministry is to ensure that clinical supplies are available at all times in order to secure the health of the people of Namibia.
As of 25 November 2020, there were a total of 150368 tested cases, 14155 confirmed cases, 650 active cases, 13355 recovered cases and 147 COVID-19 related death in Namibia.
- Right to housing (including homelessness, informal settlements, slums, shacks)
The country took some special measures to address the COVID-19 situation in the Erongo Region, particularly in Walvis Bay Local Authority Area. To decongest informal settlements in the three local authority areas in Walvis Bay, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, together with the Regional and Local Authorities were urged by the President to take steps to identify suitable venues or facilities with adequate provision of water and ablution facilities, where residents can be temporarily relocated. In this regard, the President requested the Governor to investigate the feasibility of using the unallocated Mass Houses at both Swakopmund and Walvis Bay to place people there.
- Right to water and sanitation
There is no available information on steps taken by the country to improve water sanitation as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Right to food/ nutrition and other socio-economic rights
There is no available information on steps taken by the country to improve the right to food/ nutrition and other socio-economic rights as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, during the pandemic, there were some initiatives by private individuals and companies on the collection and distribution of food to those in need.
- Economic impact/ impact small business/ employment social security networks
On 1 April, the Minister of Finance announced a new grant for people who were struggling as a result of the pandemic. Just over one week later – on Thursday 9 April – he announced details of the once-off Emergency Income Grant of R750, to be paid to people aged 18-59 who had lost informal livelihoods or were already unemployed. People with work, including all people with formal employment, were excluded, as was anyone who already received one or other social grant. People who had been formally employed but had lost their jobs would be supported through a separate scheme, through Namibia’s Social Security Commission. While not without its hiccups, Namibia’s experience has been described as an appropriate model for South Africa.
According to the Presidency, the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation in collaboration with the Namibia Statistics Agency have been tasked with ascertaining the scope of the impact on business, economy and jobs. It is against this background that the pace of the economic recovery will depend crucially on policy interventions and actions that will be taken beyond the lockdown. The Government is seized with final preparations for a holistic recovery programme for the nation, as was committed to during the Mid-Term Budget Review in October 2020. Stakeholders have also been consulted and the Harambee Prosperity Plan for the four-year period (2021-2025), which includes the Economic Recovery Programme, will be launched in February 2021.
In order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 restriction measures on the informal sector, the government relaxed the regulations in mid-April. UNAIDS convened the City of Windhoek and the Ministry of Health’s community care workers and the Namibia Informal Sector Organization (NISO) and conducted training for informal traders before the reopening of markets.
- Women (including domestic violence)
Before the COVID-19, violence against women and femicide is a common occurrence in Namibia. There is however no information on the relationship between the pandemic and these two societal ills. But in accordance with general trends, the lockdown regulations would have substantially compounded the already existing problems of violence against women and femicide.
- Children (including education)
The COVID-19 pandemic has revived the issue of children living on the streets in Namibia. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has made efforts to keep children living on the streets off the streets. There were also efforts to provide food for the home of the children, as part of efforts to keep them off the streets. However, there are reports that several weeks after the initial intervention by the government, the children are back on the streets.
UNICEF also supported a training organised by the Namibian Police Force on realising the rights of children in conflict with the law during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the training was to equip law enforcement officers to respond to child protection issues and support children in conflict with the law during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Persons with disabilities
There is no available information on steps taken by the country to improve the rights of persons with disabilities as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- LGBTI persons
No available information on the situation of LGBTI persons during the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia
No available information on the situation of migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia
- Persons deprived of their liberty
Apart from the earlier report on the training by Namibian Police with respect to children in conflict with the law, there is no available information on the situation of persons deprived of their liberty during the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia.
- Right to life and bodily security
There is no available information on the right to life and bodily security during the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia.
- Freedom of assembly
Apart from the general restrictions on gathering imposed by the COVID-19 regulations, there is no available information on the right to freedom of assembly during the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia.
- Freedom of movement
Apart from the general restrictions on movement imposed by the COVID-19 regulations, there is no available information on the right to freedom of movement during the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia.
- Freedom of expression/ access to information/ privacy/digital rights
The Public Health Covid-19 General Regulations of 23 September 2020 provides for contact tracing for COVID-19. Under the regulations, if a person is confirmed as having tested positive for COVID-19, an authorised person must establish the names of persons who were or might have been in contact with the confirmed case in line with the contact tracing protocols and standard operating procedures determined in the Ministry’s guidelines. In order to secure the right to privacy, during contact tracing, an authorised person must trace and monitor all persons considered to be contacted with a confirmed case in line with the contact tracing protocols and standard operating procedures determined in the Ministry of Health’s guidelines.
D. Summary (analysis, trends)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s institution has managed to carry on its activities within the ambit of the law. A good example is the Electoral Commission of Namibia. In order to conduct the regional and local authority election, the Commission was of the view that holding elections should not be viewed as impossible without considering reasonable measures that could protect both health and democratic rights. The Commission developed a COVID-19 mitigation strategy that was in line with the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES) recommendations to guide Election Management Bodies (EMBs), planning and implementing electoral events during the COVID-19 pandemic. In developing the strategy, the Commission was as inclusive as possible by consulting key electoral stakeholders. Consultative workshops were held with each key stakeholder and written inputs were solicited during the consultative discussions. After the consultations with individual stakeholders, the Commission invited all the stakeholders under one roof during the launch of the Voter and Education Campaign under the Theme: “Ensuring Inclusive and Credible Elections Amidst COVID-19” on 7 August 2020.
Some of the responses of the COVID-19 measures, particularly the outright suspension of Parliament for 21 days by the President, in his briefing on 24 arch 2020, shows too much concentration of power in the Executive, particularly the President. This is further demonstrated in the fact that until September, the President was the only one who could initially issue regulations during the state of emergency, and the provision of the COVID-19 Regulations Proclamation 9 of 2020 was made supreme to the provision of every other law in the country. The supremacy of a regulation issued by the President without much consultation over laws that were validly passed by Parliament reflects a wanton abuse of executive powers and an appropriation of law making functions. This point was succinctly captured by the Namibian High Court in the case of Namibian Employers’ Federation & Ors v President of the Republic of Namibia and Ors, the Court succinctly stated that “The determination of the legality of the regulations do not depend on how laudable, as Mr Marais argued, they are. The legality of the regulations, strictly interpreted, is measured by enquiring whether they are authorised by the Article of the Constitution cited as the source of the power to make them. The regulations are therefore not “reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation which has given rise to the emergency” and to that extent the President breached the principle of legality. Regulation 19 of the Suspension Regulations and regulation 12 of the Further Suspension Regulations are therefore unconstitutional.”
The presence of UN agencies in Namibia like USAIDs and UNICEF also helped both state and non-state actors in their efforts to cushion the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.