Popular Democratic Movement


Popular Democratic Movement
PresidentMcHenry Venaani
Vice PresidentJennifer Van den Heever
ChairpersonRicky Vries
Secretary-GeneralManuel Ngaringombe
TreasurerNico Smit
FoundersClemens Kapuuo
Dirk Mudge
Founded5 November 1977; 44 years ago (1977-11-05)[1]
Headquarters123 John Meinert street
Khomas Region
Youth wingPDM Youth League
Women's wingPDM Women's League
Economic liberalism[2]
Political positionCentre-right[2]
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union (Associate member)
Regional AffiliationDemocrat Union of Africa
Colors  Blue
SloganLet's move!
Seats in the National Assembly
16 / 104
Seats in the National Council
2 / 42
Regional Councillors
2 / 121
Local Councillors
41 / 378
Pan-African Parliament
0 / 5

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), formerly the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), is an amalgamation of political parties in Namibia, registered as one singular party for representation purposes. In coalition with the United Democratic Front, it formed the official opposition in Parliament until the parliamentary elections in 2009. The party currently holds 16 seats in the Namibian National Assembly and one seat in the Namibian National Council and is the official opposition. McHenry Venaani is president of the PDM.

The PDM is an associate member of the International Democrat Union, a transnational grouping of national political parties generally identified with political conservatism, and a member of the Democrat Union of Africa, which was relaunched in Accra, Ghana in February 2019. The president of the party, McHenry Venaani, is the current chairperson of the Democrat Union of Africa.


The party was formed as the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) on 5 November 1977 as a result of the Turnhalle Constitutional Conference held in Windhoek from 1975 to 1977 as a counterbalance and main opposition to the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO).[3] Participants of the Constitutional Conference walked out of the Constitutional Committee over the National Party's insistence on retaining apartheid legislation in the new constitution. Both the conference and DTA were named after the Turnhalle building (German for old Turners hall) in Windhoek where the conference was held.[4]

The DTA won the 1978 South West African legislative election by a landslide, claiming 41 of the 50 seats. This was largely due to "widespread intimidation"[5] and the presence of South African troops, particularly in the north of the territory.[6] The subsequent interim government, consisting of a National Assembly and a Council of Ministers, lasted until 18 January 1983 when, due to continued interference by the South African Administrator-General the Council of Ministers resigned. On 18 January 1983 South Africa accepted the dissolution of both the legislative and the executive body without elections being scheduled, and again assumed full administrative authority over South West Africa.[7][8][9] This void lasted until 17 June 1985 when the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) was installed by the South African Administrator-General. Its legislative and executive actions were subject to South African approval,[10] with newly appointed administrator-general Louis Pienaar having the veto right on all legislation to be passed.[11] The TGNU was widely perceived as a largely powerless body that sought moderate reform but was unable to secure recognition by the United Nations.[12]

The DTA dominated this government, too, albeit not with absolute majority: In the 62-seat National Assembly the DTA occupied 22, and five smaller parties got 8 seats each.[11] On 1 March 1989 TGNU was suspended along the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 435[7] for it to give way to an independent government, determined by the November 1989 parliamentary elections. SWAPO won the elections, the DTA came distant second.[13][14]

After Namibian independence the DTA lost several of its former affiliates. The Republican Party, the National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO), and the Action for Democratic Change all left the alliance in 2003, citing various grievances.[15] The DTA's past affiliation with the apartheid government before Namibian independence continues to affect its current public image.[16]

On 4 November 2017, days after its 40th anniversary, the party was renamed the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) in order to facilitate modernisation and to shed its "colonial" name.[17]

The party did well in 2019 election, scoring 16.65% (their best performance since 1989) and winning 16 seats in the National Assembly.


Upon its foundation, Clemens Kapuuo became the first president of the party, and Dirk Mudge served as chairman.[4] After Kapuuo's assassination in 1978 Cornelius Ndjoba became president on 3 July. The position of the vice-president was established on that day with Ben Africa as first incumbent.[18]

Mishake Muyongo led the party through the early years of independence, and in the 1994 presidential election he placed second, behind President Sam Nujoma, with 23.08% of the vote.[19] After Muyongo expressed support for Caprivi secession in 1998, he and the party he represented in the alliance, the United Democratic Party, was suspended from the DTA in August 1998 at an extraordinary meeting of the party's executive committee.[20] Muyongo fled Namibia and was replaced as DTA President by Katuutire Kaura, who called for Muyongo to be brought back and put on trial.[21] Kaura served for three elective terms. In September 2013, he was defeated by McHenry Venaani.[22]

Member parties of the PDM

Founding members

The following parties participated at the Turnhalle Constitutional Conference and subsequently formed the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance:[3]

Later changes of membership

  • United Democratic Party (UDP), member of the DTA since UDP's foundation in 1985, expelled from DTA in 1998 due to its support of the secession of the Caprivi.[24]
  • In September 2003, the National Unity Democratic Organization (NUDO) withdrew from the DTA, accusing the party of failing to work for Herero interests.[citation needed]

Electoral history

Presidential elections

Election Party candidate Votes % Result
1994 Mishake Muyongo 114,843 23.66% Lost Red XN
1999 Katuutire Kaura 52,752 9.79% Lost Red XN
2004 41,905 5.12% Lost Red XN
2009 24,186 2.98% Lost Red XN
2014 McHenry Venaani 44,271 4.97% Lost Red XN
2019 43,959 5.3% Lost Red XN

National Assembly elections

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Result
1978 Cornelius Ndjoba 268,130 82.18%
41 / 50
Increase 41 Increase 1st Supermajority government
1989 Mishake Muyongo 191,532 28.55%
21 / 72
Decrease 20 Decrease 2nd Opposition
1994 101,748 20.78%
15 / 72
Decrease 6 Steady 2nd Opposition
1999 Katuutire Kaura 50,824 9.48%
7 / 78
Decrease 8 Decrease 3rd Opposition
2004 42,070 5.14%
4 / 78
Decrease 3 Steady 3rd Opposition
2009 25,393 3.13%
2 / 72
Decrease 2 Steady 3rd Opposition
2014 McHenry Venaani 42,933 4.80%
5 / 104
Increase 3 Increase 2nd Opposition
2019 136,576 16.65%
16 / 104
Increase 11 Steady 2nd Opposition

National Council elections

Election Seats +/–
6 / 26
Increase 6
4 / 26
Decrease 2
1 / 26
Decrease 3
1 / 26
1 / 42
2 / 42
Increase 1



  1. ^ http://www.klausdierks.com/Geschichte/119.htm
  2. ^ a b "Opposition parties say PDM coalition efforts too late". Windhoek Observer. 30 August 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b Kangueehi, Kuvee (22 October 2004). "DTA 'Down but Not Out'". New Era (via rehobothbasters.com). Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b Dierks, Klaus. "Chronology of Namibian History, 1977". klausdierks.com. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  5. ^ Okoth, Assa (2006). A History of Africa: African nationalism and the de-colonisation process [1915–1995]. 2. East African Publishers. p. 195. ISBN 9966253580.
  6. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Chronology of Namibian History, 1978". klausdierks.com. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  7. ^ a b NDI 1989, p. 12.
  8. ^ Owen, Robert C (Winter 1987–88). "Counterrevolution in Namibia". Airpower Journal. Archived from the original on 31 December 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  9. ^ Nohlen, Dieter; Krennerich, Michael; Thibaut, Bernhard (1999). Elections in Africa: a data handbook. Oxford University Press. p. 660. ISBN 0-19-829645-2. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  10. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Chronology of Namibian History, 1985". klausdierks.com. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  11. ^ a b NDI 1989, p. 13.
  12. ^ DTA ‘Down but Not Out’ RehobothBasters.org
  13. ^ Namibia Archived 1 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine Tiscali Encyclopedia
  14. ^ Wren, Christopher S (15 November 1989). "Namibia Rebel Group Wins Vote, But It Falls Short of Full Control". New York Times.
  15. ^ Desie Heita: ELECTIONS 2009: DTA, a political giant once New Era, 11 September 2009
  16. ^ Muraranganda, Elvis (12 July 2016). "DTA intends shedding its colonial tag". New Era.
  17. ^ Iikela, Sakeus (6 November 2017). "Exit DTA, enter PDM". The Namibian.
  18. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Chronology of Namibian History, 1978". klausdierks.com. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  19. ^ Political Parties of the World (6th edition, 2005), ed. Bogdan Szajkowski, page 428.
  20. ^ "Namibia: Opposition party reportedly suspends leader", SAPA news agency (nl.newsbank.com), 25 August 1998.
  21. ^ "Namibia: Party leader says ex-opposition leader Muyongo should return, be tried", NBC Radio, Windhoek (nl.newsbank.com), 31 October 1998.
  22. ^ Immanuel, Shinovene (9 September 2013). "Youth take over at DTA". The Namibian. Archived from the original on 10 September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  23. ^ a b c Torreguitar, Elena (2009). National Liberation Movements in Office: Forging Democracy with African Adjectives in Namibia. European University Studies; Political Science. 567. Peter Lang. pp. 483–484. ISBN 978-3631579954.
  24. ^ "Caprivi Political Party Declared Illegal". IRIN (via afrol News). 11 September 2006. Retrieved 25 March 2011.


External links

  • DTA of Namibia Official Web Site
  • Reprint of "Namibian Voters Deny Total Power to SWAPO" by Michael Johns, The Wall Street Journal, 19 November 1989.