chapter  13
27 Pages

Labour law reform in Namibia: Transplant or implant?


Namibia’s social and economic development is profoundly influenced by the country’s colonial past, as are its labour laws. Until Namibia’s independence in 1990, colonial administrators relied on racially discriminatory laws, in particular labour laws, to ensure a steady supply of cheap labour by the African population for industries, mines and farms established and run by the settler population. This resulted in an economic system that developed into a form of ‘apartheid capitalism’ (Klerck, Murray and Sycholt, 1997: 8). Ultimately, this was the territory’s defining characteristic: a small white population exploiting its human and other resources for their own benefit and for that of expatriate corporate investors, principally from South Africa. Against this background, a critical element of the legal and political settlement at independence was the adoption of new laws regulating labour relations (Bauer, 1998: 55-56). The purpose of this chapter is therefore to give an overview of the development of Namibia’s labour laws and the changes to them since independence, in order to consider what Namibia’s experience in this area suggests about law reform in developing countries more broadly.