The private sector is generally and widely known as the engine of economic growth and development of any nation, but in Namibia this assertion needs to be socially challenged as the country, despite its unique history of divide and rule by the previous white racist regime and the nation’s subsequent policy of national reconciliation for peace and progress, still finds itself with a very high level of poverty, high unemployment, a sense of hopelessness and destitution.
For ease of reference, yours truly will for the purpose of this analysis include in the private sector setup all mining, fishing, construction, services and tourism sector to critically highlight their generally dismal lack of support and commitment towards national poverty alleviation efforts of the country.
Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge the following positive roles of the Namibian private sector. The private sector does employ a significant number of Namibians, through which it generates a lot of revenue. It further pays its obligatory taxes to the government in terms of corporate, employee and value-added tax (VAT), but most have unfortunately not gone a step further to re-invest the substantial revenue generated back into society.
With that said, the critical question that needs to be answered is what has the Namibian private sector, based on our historic background as a nation over the last 26 years of independence, done to sustainably ensure that marginalised members of our society are empowered accordingly from the revenue generated from the nation’s citizens?
Historically disadvantaged members of our community will no doubt need comprehensive and sustainable social empowerment interventions by all concerned and abled stakeholders to assist in the overall upliftment of their lives and communities.
Anything to the contrary smacks of ignorance and is truly an insult to all those blood waters our freedom. Namibia is still a child that needs the joint efforts of all its abled members to make a meaningful contribution towards national poverty alleviation efforts.
Namibia has over 11 000 registered businesses in the country, but only a handful do their bit to contribute to the socio-economic development efforts of the country. This sad situation is not healthy nor conducive to the medium- to long-term peace and security of the country, as it could result in anarchy and social disorder to the detriment of the nation.
Those companies that are doing their bit, although sometimes in small volumes, are contributing and can be counted on ten fingers with the vast majority of them just sitting on the fence carelessly watching the social fibre and cohesion of the nation fading away and thereafter blaming government for doing nothing, or for everything that goes wrong in the country.
In that regard, the current level of poverty paints a very bad picture of a society that has careless corporate citizens and this affects the less privileged citizens and communities. This sad reality has without a doubt forced many members of the previously disadvantaged to look solely to government to alleviate poverty, whilst we have a thriving private sector sitting on the fence.
This dangerous current culture of ignorance and corporate selfishness within the private sector is very worrisome and a significant contributor to the levels of poverty in the country and thus needs to be innovatively addressed. Otherwise, Namibia will continuously be milked by established and local businesses without due consideration for the less privileged.
A caring private sector should and could do much more to assist the government to contribute towards the construction of more classrooms nationwide, with the needed desks, chairs, hostels, libraries, computers and computer labs, school stationery and other materials that students need, as well as towards the construction of more clinics, roads, sanitation, low-cost housing, sport fields, community libraries, etc., to mention just a few.
The private sector should by now realise that government cannot do it alone and should be proactive in their duties to partner with government in ways that make life easier and more comfortable for the people and communities, who contribute generously to the sustainability of their businesses.