President Hage Geingob is not shaken by global rating agencies’ negative hype around the envisaged New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF), saying government is at a point of no return in ensuring equitable sharing of the country’s wealth by all its citizens.
His stance on this was confirmed on Monday when he addressed the University of Columbia community in the USA, where he repeated his administration’s commitment to ensuring that the previously advantaged share resources with those at the opposite end of the economic spectrum.
NEEEF has sparked quite a pandemonium in the country, especially within the white business community in which sentiments are being expressed that the Swapo-led government is on a mission to drive them out of business.
NEEEF makes provision that any business set up after the adoption of this framework would be mandatorily required to avail 25 percent of its ownership to partners from previously racially disadvantaged groups.
If implemented as is, black Namibians stand to benefit more from this regime of economic empowerment.
Rating agency Fitch cited NEEEF as one of the reasons it downgraded Namibia’s economic outlook from stable to negative, saying the policy would scare away investors who may not be willing to cede stakes in their companies.
Government hit back at this assertion, saying consultations on NEEEF were still underway and any judgement passed on this policy would be premature at this stage.
Geingob was unapologetic as he engaged an active Columbia University audience, saying NEEEF remains firmly on government’s radar.
“In Namibia we have experienced sustained economic growth but no job creation,” he said.
“This scenario will not help transform the lives of our people. Only if we are able to create jobs can we be able to transform our economies and the lives of our people simultaneously.”
“We therefore cannot continue to entertain situations in which those with wealth are only interested in protecting what they have acquired. One cannot enjoy life while your brother or sister is starving,” he told the audience, which included his wife Monica, advisors and other members of his delegation to the US.
“It is therefore crucial that we pursue shared and sustained economic development, which will allow us to create jobs and maintain peace. I have often said that exclusivity spells conflict, while inclusivity spells peace.”
“I am therefore disappointed when our efforts to tackle inequality are negatively portrayed, such as in the case of the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) which has been criticised by several ratings agencies
and even academics here at Columbia University,” he added.
“In a democracy, consultation should prevail but it seems that in this instance, those with sinister motives have derailed the consultative process.”
“Since I believe in consultation and interaction, I would like to conclude and look forward to engaging you in order to expound more on the issues which I have briefly touched on,” he said.