Independent State with a Constitutional Dispensation
Prior to Independence in 1990 and the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, which created an independent judiciary and a Supreme Court for the sovereign nation, the courts of Namibia were an extension of the judicial system of South Africa. By virtue of the provisions of the Supreme Court Act, 1959 (No. 59 of 1959), the judiciary of South West Africa was amalgamated into that of South Africa, resulting in the High Court of South West Africa being constituted as the South West Africa Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa. Logically, this meant the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa maintained jurisdiction over the decisions of the South West Africa Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa to hear and finally determine matters brought before it on appeal from the South West Africa Division or any other provincial or local division.
On 21 March 1990 Namibia became an Independent State with the Constitution as the Supreme Law. With the achievement of sovereignty and self-determination, Namibia adopted a Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the nation, and ushered in the principle of constitutional supremacy and a system of governance based on the principles of constitutionalism, the rule of law, and respect for the human rights of the individual. Our Supreme Law gives recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all. These rights include the right of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of race, colour, ethnic origin, sex, religion, creed or social or economic status. Namibia believes the said rights are most effectively maintained and protected in a democratic society, where the government is responsible to freely elected representatives of the people, operating under a sovereign constitution and a free and independent judiciary.
The Namibian Constitution came into force on the eve of the country’s independence as the supreme law of the country, therefore, the ultimate source of law in Namibia. All other laws in Namibia trace their legitimacy and source from the Constitution. In order to prevent the creation of a legal vacuum, Article 140 of the Constitution logically provides that all laws in force immediately before the date of independence shall remain in force until repealed or amended by Act of Parliament or until they are declared unconstitutional by a competent court. Since Independence the Law Reform Commission has been tasked to investigate and scrutinize all existing laws in order to align same with the Constitution abiding with the Rule of Law.