The revised Procurement Bill tabled in parliament by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein on Tuesday could be the lifeline local manufacturers have been waiting for.
Although the Bill still needs to be debated by lawmakers before it is sent to the National Council, this crucial piece of legislation is viewed as a game changer by the domestic manufacturing industry, because it gives preference to local products, previously disadvantaged women and youth, SMEs and Namibian enterprises in general.
“My main competitors are the South Africans and the Chinese. We need to change the mindset of local companies and consumers to support locally manufactured products, because we can guarantee the same quality as foreign suppliers,” said David Namalenga, Managing Director of Dinapama Manufacturing and Supplies, which manufactures garments.
While expressing gratitude to companies such as Skorpion Zinc and Bank Windhoek for their unwavering support, Namalenga called on government to take critical decisions to uplift local industries and workers.
“The Bill gives government wider control and the ability to better assess the impact of public procurement on the economy. Moreover, it will improve governance and enhance the image of Namibia as a preferential trading partner and ultimately as a credible investment destination. Ultimately, the Bill will reform public procurement from a process function to critical tool to assist government in the attainment of its strategic goals,” Schlettwein said on Tuesday when he tabled the Bill for a second time.
“Although it has taken a bit of time to institutionalise the procurement reforms, we have learned valuable lessons from our own experience and from that of other countries to come up with this piece of legislation that is most appropriate for Namibia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Namalenga, who started Dinapama in a small office in Wanaheda with only seven employees, today employs about 350 people in a massive factory in Windhoek’s northern industrial area. However, he noted that the factory could accommodate twice as many people if it received backing from local institutions.
“We receive very little or no support from local companies and ministries to support Growth at Home, NDP4 (National Development Plan 4) and Vision 2030,” noted Namalenga.
A former trade unionist turned businessman, Namalenga further called for synergy between local manufacturers to improve the quality of locally produced goods. Quality concerns were some of the issues raised on Tuesday by members of parliament, such as Minister of Justice Dr Albert Kawana and Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simataa.