Open main menu

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 five seats in the Namibian National Assembly, one seat in the Namibian National Council and is the official opposition. McHenry Venaani is president of the PDM.

Popular Democratic Movement
PresidentMcHenry Venaani
Vice PresidentJennifer van der Heever
ChairpersonRicky Vries
Secretary-GeneralManuel Ngaringombe
TreasurerNico Smit
FoundersClemens Kapuuo
Dirk Mudge
FoundedNovember 1977
Headquarters123 John Meinert street
Khomas Region
Youth wingPDM Youth League
Political positionCentre-right
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
Regional AffiliationDemocrat Union of Africa
ColorsBlue, White and Red               
SloganLet's Move!
Seats in the National Assembly
5 / 104
Seats in the National Council
1 / 42
Regional Councillors
2 / 121
Local Councillors
41 / 378
Pan-African Parliament
0 / 5

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) in 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).[1] 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.[2]

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"[3] and the presence of South African troops, particularly in the north of the territory.[4] 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.[5][6][7] 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,[8] with newly appointed administrator-general Louis Pienaar having the veto right on all legislation to be passed.[9] The TGNU was widely perceived as a largely powerless body that sought moderate reform but was unable to secure recognition by the United Nations.[10]

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.[9] On 1 March 1989 TGNU was suspended along the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 435[5] 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.[11][12]

The DTA's past affiliation with the apartheid government before Namibian independence continues to affect its current public image.[13] On 4 November 2017, days after its 40th anniversary, the party was renamed the Popular Democratic Movement in order to facilitate modernisation and to shed its "colonial" name.[14]


Upon its foundation, Clemens Kapuuo became the first president of the party, and Dirk Mudge served as chairman.[2] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] Muyongo fled Namibia and was replaced as DTA President by Katuutire Kaura, who called for Muyongo to be brought back and put on trial.[18] Kaura served for three elective terms. In September 2013, he was defeated by McHenry Venaani.[19]

Member parties of the PDMEdit

Founding membersEdit

The following parties participated at the Turnhalle Constitutional Conference and subsequently formed the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance:[1]

Later changes of membershipEdit

  • United Democratic Party (UDP, Lozi), 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.[21]
  • In September 2003, the National Unity Democratic Organization (NUDO) withdrew from the DTA, accusing the party of failing to work for Herero interests.

Electoral historyEdit

Presidential electionsEdit

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

National Assembly electionsEdit

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

National Council electionsEdit

Election Seats +/–
6 / 26
4 / 26
1 / 26
1 / 26
1 / 42



  1. ^ a b Kangueehi, Kuvee (22 October 2004). "DTA 'Down but Not Out'". New Era (via Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b Dierks, Klaus. "Chronology of Namibian History, 1977". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  3. ^ Okoth, Assa (2006). A History of Africa: African nationalism and the de-colonisation process [1915–1995]. 2. East African Publishers. p. 195. ISBN 9966253580.
  4. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Chronology of Namibian History, 1978". Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b NDI 1989, p. 12.
  6. ^ Owen, Robert C (Winter 1987–88). "Counterrevolution in Namibia". Airpower Journal.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Chronology of Namibian History, 1985". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  9. ^ a b NDI 1989, p. 13.
  10. ^ DTA ‘Down but Not Out’
  11. ^ Namibia Archived 1 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine Tiscali Encyclopedia
  12. ^ Wren, Christopher S (15 November 1989). "Namibia Rebel Group Wins Vote, But It Falls Short of Full Control". New York Times.
  13. ^ Muraranganda, Elvis (12 July 2016). "DTA intends shedding its colonial tag". New Era.
  14. ^ Iikela, Sakeus (6 November 2017). "Exit DTA, enter PDM". The Namibian.
  15. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Chronology of Namibian History, 1978". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  16. ^ Political Parties of the World (6th edition, 2005), ed. Bogdan Szajkowski, page 428.
  17. ^ "Namibia: Opposition party reportedly suspends leader", SAPA news agency (, 25 August 1998.
  18. ^ "Namibia: Party leader says ex-opposition leader Muyongo should return, be tried", NBC Radio, Windhoek (, 31 October 1998.
  19. ^ Immanuel, Shinovene (9 September 2013). "Youth take over at DTA". The Namibian.
  20. ^ 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 3631579950.
  21. ^ "Caprivi Political Party Declared Illegal". IRIN (via afrol News). 11 September 2006. Retrieved 25 March 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)


External linksEdit