Windhoek – Former Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) member of parliament Heikko Lucks has lifted the lid on the general feeling among white Namibians that they are being unfairly blamed for the perceived lack of economic transformation in the country.
Lucks, nearly a forgotten man in politics after he lost his parliamentary seat due to RDP’s dwindling support, said whites have not been custodians of national resources or in charge of government for the past 26 years and can therefore not shoulder the blame for lack of transformation.
Speaking to New Era yesterday in an interview to be fully published on Friday, Lucks became one of the whites who are publicly speaking out against the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) which, if implemented in its proposed state, would compel all new white-owned businesses to avail 25 percent equities to formerly racially disadvantaged Namibians.
The aim of NEEEF, at least in principle, is to narrow the widening economic gap between whites – who inherently benefited from the apartheid system that celebrated white supremacy – and blacks.
During apartheid, blacks were denied an avalanche of socio-economic opportunities at the expense of whites, and the legacy of that arrangement is still visible across Namibia, with whites proportionally richer than blacks by a country mile.
But the Walvis Bay-born Lucks, himself a businessman, feels that blacks have been in charge of resources and government for long enough to have transformed the lives of the poor.
“The feeling among many white people is that they have been sidelined since independence.
“They are blamed for all that happened before independence, although not all whites were proponents of apartheid.
It was a system imposed on them,” he said.
“Yes, white people were beneficiaries of the apartheid system. It was a system under which white people could really flourish, that is why many whites after independence understood that it was time for the majority to rule.”
“White people have a lot to contribute to this country but they feel that they are being sidelined,” the former RDP treasurer said.
Lucks believes national reconciliation has worked, but there remains areas where it has failed. The introduction of NEEEF, he believes, rolls back the gains of reconciliation.
“Reconciliation worked on one side. We have peace since independence. Racial tension is South Africa is much worse than it is in Namibia,” he observed.
“On the other hand it did not work. Look at NEEEF, for example. The ruling elite do not see everybody equal.”
“If NEEEF becomes a law, it would be a law that distinguishes people on the basis of their skin colour and that to me shows reconciliation isn’t working. You have poor, jobless white people as well and to say ‘we will introduce a law that works against you’ is wrong.”
He believes inequality should be seen from a perspective of the rich versus the poor – and not blacks versus whites.
“It is a fallacy that whites still control business and resources. We must stop these inaccuracies. The whites are so few in this country that even if you were to employ all of them in government, they wouldn’t take half of the jobs in the country. Whites are not a threat, they are not decision-makers,” he concluded.
Lucks remains a member of the RDP and serves as a member of the former official opposition’s central committee.