There has been a rapid growth in the number of NGOs operating in Namibia since independence. Following 1990, civil society increased in both capacity and strength but still suffers from a fragmented sector and a lack of overall capacity – especially in the rural areas. Both the sector and the Government have recognised the need to update the regulatory framework to accommodate the changing NGO scene.
There is no specific NGO law at present in Namibia. NGOs can be registered as a non-profit company ‘Section 21 Companies’. They may also exist as trusts, foundations, voluntary organisations or community-based organisations.
Non-profit companies are currently registered under Section 21 of the Companies Act 1973. This was amended to the 2004 Companies Act but is, as we understand, not yet implemented with relation to Section 21 Companies.
Trusts and Foundations are registered with Master of High Court under the Moneys Protection Act of 1934 (not available online).
Welfare Organisations are also required to register with the Ministry of Health and Social Services under the Welfare Act of 1979 (not available online).
The primary regulators are as follows:
The Registrar of Companies is part of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The Master of the High Court sits under the Ministry of Justice
The Companies Act requires organisations to provide the Registrar with its audited annual financial statements. Failure to comply may result in a fine or imprisonment.
The Government's NGO policy is laid down in the Civic Organisations Partnership Policy 2005.
Accessing the database of NGOs:
The database is available to members of the public at the Registrar of Companies office. There is an associated charge. The Register is not available online.
NANGOF is a well known umbrella NGO in Namibia and has developed a Code of Conduct for NGOs focusing on accountability, transparency and governance. It is also leading on civil society coalition to draft a shadow budget and hold the Government to account for its spending. (Please note some users experience problems with this website address)
The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law published an article examining the legal and regulatory framework for NGOs in Namibia in February 2009.
The Commonwealth Foundation has also produced a report examining civil society in Namibia, written in 2000.