Windhoek informal settlement.

Namibians lack confidence in economy, express rising dissatisfaction with government

Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 636 | Darren Janz

This Afrobarometer Dispatch examines Namibians’ changing views on the country’s economic trajectory alongside evolving public support for its ruling party. Since 2017 – and especially since 2019 – Namibians have expressed significantly more pessimistic views on the country’s general direction and economic condition as well as their personal living conditions. Unemployment remains by far the most salient issue to Namibian voters.

Meanwhile, popular evaluations of government performance have become significantly more negative, and approval of, closeness to, trust in, and support for SWAPO and its national leadership have plummeted.

Key findings

  • Three-fourths (76%) of Namibians see their country as going in the wrong direction, a three-fold increase since 2014.
  • Two-thirds (67%) of citizens describe their country’s economic condition as “fairly bad” or “very bad,” while more than half (52%) say the same about their personal living conditions.
  • Optimism that things will improve during the coming year has declined sharply, to 38%.
  • Unemployment ranks highest among the most important problems that Namibians want their government to address (61%), followed water supply (22%) and corruption (20%).
  • Approval of the job performance of the president and prime minister has declined sharply, to 54% and 47%, respectively.
  • Similarly, assessments of the government’s performance on key economic issues have declined significantly over the past eight years.
  • The proportion of Namibians who trust SWAPO “a lot” has dropped by more than half since 2014, from 42% to 17%. The same is true for strong trust in the president (from 56% to 26%) and the prime minister (from 50% to 18%).
  • The share of Namibians who say they feel close to SWAPO has decreased in every survey round from 2014 to 2021, falling from more than half (53%) to fewer than one-third (30%).