We all are aware that the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia provides for advancement of persons who have been socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged due to the discriminatory laws, polices, practices and procedures of apartheid colonialism.
At the same time, government is fully committed and trying its utmost to meet the expectations of the majority of the people and the nation. Regarding the above, economy needs transformation by keeping previously disadvantaged persons and youth at the centre and among many – the main purpose of this transformation is economic empowerment.
Economic empowerment will pave the way for employment and wealth creation, reduction of poverty and inequality. The above are strategic to sustain peace, stability, and democracy and creating for a socially just society or pursuance of social justice.
When the government wants to establish the required frameworks and institutions, there are constant and frequent negative criticisms and attitudes by some individuals, organisations and groups.
The purpose of article is to indicate how New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) will help and accommodate the economy in terms of economic growth and development paving the way for a socially just society.
Economic growth and development, particularly in developing countries like Namibia, should be broad-based, highly participatory and contributory by all. In other words, no economy can grow by excluding any part of its people, and an economy that is not growing cannot integrate all of its citizens in a meaningful way.
It should be noted that “previously disadvantaged persons” are part of the national resources or part of human resources. They also have contributed to economic growth and development by way of consumers, and provision of human resource and through other resources such as small land and savings they had.
Companies have earned profits, accumulated assets and wealth. Regarding the above, previously disadvantaged persons have helped development and growth companies. The above process has been going on since independence and even before that during the apartheid colonialism.
It has not been the wish of the previously disadvantaged persons to be disadvantaged. It is an outcome of the apartheid colonialism in the past. This historical fault or wrong should be corrected in a systematic and constructive manner with participation and contribution by all citizens in order to live in harmony and peace.
After independence, one of the top priorities of the government has been to utilise the previously disadvantaged persons by integrating them to the economy in a systematic and constructive manner or through economic transformation.
Otherwise, continuation with the same situation that prevailed at the time of independence is not in the right context of the well-established norms of democracy, peace, stability and justice.
Many African countries have adopted economic empowerment frameworks. For example, South Africa’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) policy is very useful and relevant, because it has generated the expected outcomes on the basis of economic growth and development.
NEEEF is for Namibia to generate broader developmental outcomes. In fact, learning from the result-oriented experience from others who have similar historical background is a good practice.
In this respect, six pillars of NEEEF, namely (i) ownership (ii) management control and employment equity (iii) human resources and skills development (iv) entrepreneurship development (iv) corporate social responsibilities and (vi) value addition, technology and innovation are at the centre of economic growth and development.
With respect to economic growth, removing constraints to economic growth and stimulating economic growth are equally important. To the extent that a substantial segment of the population is excluded in economic growth and development has been a constraint.
Through NEEEF, the above-mentioned exclusion or constraint will be removed. This removal will stimulate economic growth and this aspect has not seen by individual and organizations that have negative minds and attitudes.
Currently, companies/shareholders claim dividends. Through the ownership pillar of NEEEF disadvantaged Namibians to acquire shares or equity. As a result, disadvantaged Namibians will have income through dividends.
This situation will impact on the economy in many ways. Disadvantaged Namibians become consumers that demand more and more goods and services. Furthermore, they may start accumulating assets.
Also, it is pertinent that a part of the dividends/profit remitted by foreign-owned companies (under NEEEF, companies will become joint ventures) will stay in the country.
All above mean that because of NEEEF, part of dividends/profit earned by companies will become a source stimulus for economic growth and development through the forward and backward linkages in the economy.
In fact, having income through utilisation of productive input (i.e. share capital and hence dividends) and not having such income will make a huge difference in an economy in many ways.
It should be noted that foreign investment comes to Namibia due to many reasons. Among them, they are happy with the business environment in the country, attractive to natural resources, peace and stability and increasing business opportunities and particularly the leadership of the country.
The 25% local ownership requirement is accommodative because investment is undertaken through NEEEF with the blessing and support of the government.
In order to ensure peace and stability, wealth should be created through broad-participation. As a result wealth is shared and socio-economic upliftment of the poor and others can be achieved. In other words, no economy can grow by excluding any part of its people, and an economy that is not growing cannot integrate all of its citizens in a meaningful way.
NEEEF does no aim to take wealth from one group and give it to another. NEEEF has accepted and respected the role of the private sector in the economy and the constitutional provisions guarantee the right to own property.
Investment or acquisition of shares cannot be labelled as “robbing” because it is an outcome of a legal process or transaction NEEEF is essentially a growth strategy.
* Dr Asoka Seneviratne is the director of programmes and institutional development at the International University of Management (IUM) in Windhoek. These views are his own.