Namibia has been governed as part of South Africa before 1990 resulting in the two countries sharing a similar history in respect of the evolvement of retirement funds.
Historically and in line with the apartheid laws, the South African Government made provision for retirement benefits for white civil servants excluding non-white civil servants. In 1969, the South African Government amended the Pensions Funds Act to make provision for separate pension benefits designed for non -white civil servants of which the structure of benefits were inferior compared to the ones for white civil servants. The Act was followed by the Blacks Authoritie' Service Pension Act of 1971 that made provision for fragmented pension benefits exclusively for black civil servants working for various Bantustans.
As the political pressure was mounting against the South African Government, efforts were made to consolidate the previous separate pension arrangements through the Temporary Employees Pension Fund Act in 1979, followed again by the General Pensions Act that provided for equal pension benefits for all civil servants, blacks and whites. This Act was further repealed to make way for the Statutory Pension Funds Act of 1980.
Immediately before Namibia's independence, a new pension fund called Government Institutions Pension Fund was established in 1989 to provide pension benefits to Namibian civil servants. Sanlam, a life insurance company, was appointed to administer the Fund.
There were suspicions that the incoming Government might take the members' pension assets for their own use. The Administrator General of South West Africa for example stated that Resolution 435 could not be relied on to safeguard pension benefits of civil servants. The members and pensioners were thus given the option to either.
- transfer their service period, full actuarial reserve and share of surplus to the Namibian domiciled Government Institutions Pension Fund or
- privatize their pensions by transferring their actuarial reserve plus share of surplus to any other retirement annuity fund.
For members who selected the latter option, their "past service" was not transferred to the new Fund. Those who opted for the first option had to join GIPF in respect of their future service.
By 1990, the assets of GIPF were N$844 070 million.
1996 - The Namibianization process
In 1996, the Board of Trustees of GIPF resolved that operations of GIPF should be conducted and controlled by Namibians. They decided that the administration of the fund should be done in -house in order to render better service to members. The Board of Trustees invested the assets of GIPF in a mix of Namibian, South African and international equities, bonds, properties and cash. With the assistance of bullish markets that prevailed at that time, the financial position of the fund improved extremely. This is why the civil servants who transferred their full pensions to the GIPF are today much better off than their counterparts who privatized their pensions.
By 1996 the assets of GIPF were N$4 398 896 billion.
1999 - The establishment of the GIPF Administrators (Pty) Ltd
In line with the changes within the retirement funds industry, characterized by increased consumerism, high costs to the employer, tighter regulatory control of retirement funds and the poor service delivery of the historical life insurer, the Board of Trustees took a strategic decision and registered a professional retirement administration company in 1999 that would administer both defined benefits and defined contributions benefits funds. This was done to give institutional customers and members flexibility and choice in investment options.
By 1999, the assets of GIPF were N$6 894 084 billion.