By Catherine Sasman
It is expected that a black economic empowerment (BEE) policy will be passed next year, and various segments of the economy have been encouraged to create sectoral charters.
The August Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) review, ‘2 BEE or not 2 BEE’, suggests that while no policy has so far been passed in Namibia, individuals in the public and private sectors continue to use the term “with a loose understanding that BEE entails empowering the previously disadvantaged”, suggesting that the term should “transcend many levels, from ownership to education, from management to skills training” and so on.
In his contribution to the review, Dr Leake Hangala said BEE should not only be viewed as a means to empower previously disadvantaged people, but that it also has to do with the extension of basic infrastructure to a majority of Namibians as a part of interventions in redressing inequalities.
He said BEE efforts should not de-empower white Namibians, and should be done in a transparent and predictable manner to avoid nepotism and cronyism, thus avoiding that it becomes a preserve for those who are close to the centre of power and information.
“[It] must be done within a legislated framework to ensure that it complies with the laws of the land,” said Hangala, adding that it should be broad-based in a manner that does not collapse into “arranged-marriages, entitlements, tokenism and ‘rent-a-darkie’ type of schemes”.
Ownership of resources and productive assests, said labour researcher Herbert Jauch, are key components to broad-based BEE, saying labour should advocate for change in ownership patterns that is “not limited to an exchange among business elites”.
“Trade unions and social movements should oppose worsening conditions of employment for workers, outsourcing and privatization as a result of BEE,” Jauch said, arguing that BEE should be placed within the context of a broader, systematic programme of redistribution.
In the absence of a policy framework, the first draft of the Namibian Financial Services Charter has been designed and modelled after the South African sector framework.
The Namibian charter, said Nangula Shejavali, considers it as a process that increases local decision-making capacity of Namibian institutions.
He said it is important for players in the financial sector to also pay attention to the compliance factors set forth in the Employment Equity Commission.