The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) says local businesses are gravely concerned about the government’s decision to compel South African citizens to acquire business visas at the Namibian High Commission in Pretoria prior to travelling to Namibia for business activities.
According to Tarah Shaanika, Chief Executive Officer of the NCCI, the new requirement, which is in force since March this year, has already proven to have significant negative impact on cross-border business activities between the two countries.
“It is unfortunate that this decision is enforced at a time when the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is making progress in deepening regional economic integration, which should result in increased intra-regional trade and commercial activities. For the Namibian government, which has been a strong proponent of deeper regional economic integration, to enforce such a decision is not only surprising but deeply disappointing,” said Shaanika.
In a statement released yesterday, Shaanika noted that South Africa is Namibia’s largest trading partner and the common history of the two countries has created a situation where the business bonds between the two are strong and wide.
“So many businesses in Namibia, which play a pivotal role in this economy, are subsidiaries of or have strong commercial relationships with South African companies which require representation of such companies on the boards of some Namibian companies. For someone to be required to apply for and acquire a visa in advance for a board meeting in Namibia that lasts for two hours is incomprehensible, especially when Namibians are not treated the same by the South African Government,” decried Shaanika.
He said the NCCI has formally taken up the issue with the Namibian Government without any interest to have it resolved on the part of the government.
“We are absolutely worried that this action will make it more costly and more unrealistic for Namibian businesses to run smooth operations and it is definitely not helping Namibian businesses to effectively implement the Harambee Prosperity Plan, which we have wholeheartedly supported,” Shaanika added.
The NCCI has therefore again appealed to government to reconsider this action and remove the visa requirement for South African citizens travelling to Namibia on business in its current form. “We strongly propose that South African citizens be allowed to get such visas at entry points, as is the case with Namibian citizens travelling to South Africa for business,” Shaanika concluded.