By Anna Ingwafa
A group of indigenous Namibian businesspeople from Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto and Ohangwena are up in arms against the proliferation of Chinese businesses in the retail and other sectors they previously dominated.
Chinese investors of all types and sizes have rapidly swept aside local businesses penetrating such sectors as retail and wholesale, driving locals out of business.
Businesspeople in the north convened a meeting aimed at addressing what they felt is the “intolerable proportion of the Chinese business community in the country”, and the need to ‘limit’ these aggressive traders who seem to have shaken locals from their slumber.
The gathering, attended by 112 people, took place at a local hotel in Oshakati under the theme, “Save the Local Business Community from Chinese Businesses”.
The group suggested the Chinese business community should only be confined to wholesale trading and not retail, as is the case whereby they even sell vegetables.
Chairman of the group calling for fair trade, Epafras Mukwiilongo, told New Era yesterday that they want retailing of all products manufactured in China to be done only by Namibian businesspeople and not Chinese.
The group is not entirely against Chinese businesspeople who even rent premises from them but say the Chinese should be confined to wholesale and not retail trading.
The group is adamant their call does not call for the closure of all Chinese businesses nor are they xenophobic but rather propose a favourable business environment that would benefit all parties.
Another problem felt by local businesspeople is that whenever they are given loans under small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) to set up businesses, they end up losing their property listed by banks as collateral.
They complained about losing their collateral because Chinese businesspeople set up similar businesses next to theirs with lower prices on their goods, a situation that forces banks to confiscate their property when they fail to repay their loans.
“We acknowledge the Government policy of free enterprise and suggest that there must be some sort of protectionism on the side of Namibian businesses to compete effectively. The survival of the local businesses should not be compromised only to accommodate the Chinese business community,” said Mukwiilongo.
The group plans to call another meeting of all businesspeople to meet President Hifikepunye Pohamba regarding the matter. He said the group is mobilising others to come on board.