Dr Richard Kamwi: Political detainee, freedom fighter and cabinet minister (1950 – )


WINDHOEK – Dr Richard Nchabi Kamwi is the current Minister of Health and Social Services.

Kamwi is a politician who holds a PhD in science and was a member of the Swapo military wing from 1986 to 1989.

Kamwi was born on 3 June 1950 at Ioma village in the then Caprivi now renamed the Zambezi Region.

He received his primary education in Botswana and his secondary education at the missionary school St Kizito College, a few kilometers outside Katima Mulilo.

From 1977 to 1980 he furthered his studies in South Africa where he did a three-year course in public health at Mmadikoti Technical School, Pietersburg.

After completing his diploma in1980 he returned to Namibia where he became the first black person to be employed as health inspector at Katima Mulilo.

However, in 1984 he was arrested by South African security forces for his political activism.

He was detained at Kalimbeza where he was beaten and severely tortured resulting in nerves in his hands being damaged. But he managed to escape and fled to Botswana where he was received by other exiled Swapo members.

In 1986, he met with the founding president Dr Sam Nujoma in Angola and later was sent for military training at Tobias Hainyeko Centre, after which he joined the Swapo military wing the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) until 1989 when he was repatriated with other exiled Namibians.

From 1990 to 1991 he served as the Chief Health Inspector, Northwest Health Directorate at Oshakati in the Ministry of Health and Social Services. In 1990 he received a certificate in Basic Malariology and Malaria Control from the Martsinovskij Institute of Medical Parasitology and Tropical Medicine in Moscow in the Federal Republic of Russia.

Between 1993 and 1994 he studied for a Master’s Degree in Applied Parasitology and Medical Enthomology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine at the University of Liverpool in the U.K.

From 1995 to 2000, Kamwi served as Programme Manager of the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme. On March 21, 2005 he was appointed as the Minister of Health and Social Services after being re-elected and sworn in as Member of Parliament. In 2 000 he was first sworn in as a member of the National Assembly.

In August 27, 2002 he was elected as a member of the Central Committee of Swapo.

In 2007 he was re-elected as a member of the Central Committee and of the Politburo.

In 2012 Kamwi was re-elected as a member of the Central Committee.

After independence Kamwi continued with his studies and in 1998 he enrolled for a PhD at the University of Natal under a World Health Organization (WHO) fellowship. 

In 2000 the then president Nujoma appointed him to the post of Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services.

At that time Dr Libertina Amathila was the Minister of Health and Social Services.

Upon the promotion of Dr Amathila to the post of Deputy Prime Minister along with the election of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, in March 2005 Kamwi was appointed as the Minister of Health and Social Services the position he holds up to today.

Kamwi is married to Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi who is the Managing Director of Namdeb.


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