By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Envy and jealousy among Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) players is partially to blame for the failure of the initiative that strives to bring economic emancipation to previously disadvantaged Namibians. This was said by the Chairperson of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) Standing Committee on BEE, Titus Haim-bili yesterday. At a seminar on Project and BEE Financing attended by business representatives from financing institutions, Haim-bili stated that apart from insufficient funding, tight security demands by funding institutions and lack of comprehensive legislation to facilitate the BEE process, the culture of envy and jealousy is spreading in the country. “Emerging and successful black entrepreneurs are always subjected to bad-mouthing and abuse,” he noted. The continuous failure of BEE projects, Haimbili says, has also been exacerbated by in-fighting among the empowered black entrepreneurs resulting in the financier becoming the referee, thereby exploiting the situation in order to create discord and remain in control. Since the BEE initiative came into being, many myths still surround the concept. According to Haimbili, there is a general perception that BEE must only take place where Government tenders are involved. He noted there is a special breed of people from previously disadvantaged Nami-bians who are entitled and qualify for BEE financing. The absence of an institution to monitor and manage this process and programmes has also played a role in the ineffectiveness of BEE projects. Currently, most empowerment efforts, Haimbili added, appear to be ineffective palliatives and do not necessarily demonstrate the kind of understanding required to bring about transformation or change. He said, “We need to change into another gear which can fast-track and propel BEE efforts by coming up with a definition on BEE, which is not narrow enough to allow pessimists to see it as a transaction focusing at transfer of equity and ownership only.” Though Haimbili did not elaborate, he suggested that the definition should be broad enough to incorporate vital elements of an integrated society. Insufficient finance and lack of access to BEE projects has always been one of the challenges faced by many previously disadvantaged people in Namibia. The financing houses and institutions, Haimbili stressed, should relax their interest rates and security demands in order to accommodate BEE companies and if possible introduce a grace period before repayment of loans. The Chief Executive Officer of the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) Primus Hango in support of Haimbili indicated that projects fail because the theoretical analysis is biased and figures are tweaked so that the company can assume a profitable status. This in return poses a challenge to financiers who have to ensure that the figures provided are genuine. “The failure of projects is usually ascribed to the fact that co-ordinators have not been able to fully implement the strategies as indicated in the business plans, hence this leads to the collapse of the projects.” Generally, business acumen is lacking and this failure of BEE reflects the people in the industry, he added. Haimbili warned that if the process is not properly handled it has the potential to turn into a breeding ground for corruption, nepotism and social tensions.
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