Government is said to have bowed to local and international pressure by removing a clause in the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) draft bill that would have forced white businesses to sell a 25 percent stake to previously disadvantaged Namibians,
a source familiar with the work of the technical committee on NEEEF told the Windhoek Observer this week.
Ratings firms Fitch and Moody’s cut Namibia’s debt to sub-investment grade last year in part due to the uncertainty of Namibia’s economic recovery brought about by certain aspects of NEEEF.
Business lobby groups such as the Namibia Chamber and Industry (NCCI), the Manufacturing Association of Namibia (MFA), the Chamber of Mines of Namibia (CMN) and the Namibian Employers Federation (NEF) also expressed reservations about NEEEF, saying it may hurt the economy although these entities support the overall principles embodied in the framework.
A reliable government source told the Windhoek Observer this week that Cabinet had a robust debate during a workshop held in Windhoek two weeks ago, and in the end, the consensus was that the 25 percent clause should be removed in place of broad-based empowerment that will include all communities in Namibia.
The technical committee is expected to present a final draft soon, which is then expected to be adopted by Cabinet.
Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) Chairperson, Yvonne Dauseb, said her agency and the Office of the Prime Minister made proposals to revise the bill based on public consultations.
“The proposals for revision include what the ownership equity pillar could look like,” Dauseb said.
“However, at this stage I am not at liberty to tell you what that proposed change will be. Cabinet must first pronounce itself before any changes can be effected to the current bill.”
Tim Parkhouse, Secretary General of NEF said Thursday that most business agree in principle with NEEEF, but were against the 25 percent clause.
“The question must be how do we increase the cake and not how do we cut the cake in smaller pieces.”
He said there are other empowerment schemes that have merit like the proposed National Pension Fund by the Social Security Commission.
President Hage Geingob said during the opening of the cabinet workshop on 27 February that, “NEEEF consultations and the implementation of the strategy constituted a necessary intervention in dealing with structural inequality, of which income disparities and lack of participation of the black majority in the economy remain a glaring legacy of our past.
“We will not allow the status quo to continue. The final leg of the consultation is now before us. It is disturbing to note that there are some who have cast aspersions on NEEEF, even before consultations were concluded,” the president said.