Namibia does not just need economic growth, but inclusive economic growth, to defeat poverty, noted the chairperson of the Cooperative Advisory Board (CAB), Ronny Dempers, on Monday.
Dempers said this when he appeared as guest speaker at the announcement of the 2016 Namibia revised cooperative policy, introduced by agriculture minister John Mutorwa.
The revised policy essentially updates and revises the 1992 version and was done in conjunction with CAB and the Directorate of Planning and Business Development (DPBD).
“Cooperatives can serve as vehicles through which wealth redistribution can be achieved without promoting a culture of dependency.”
“Today signals a very important milestone in the development phase of Namibia as a nation, especially as it is an action that puts in place concrete steps aimed at democratising the economy for the benefit of our people. Namibia is a democratic country with an undemocratic economic structure. Undemocratic because only few participate and benefit from the economic resources of this country. Cooperatives provide that opportunity for us. A cooperative is an enterprise that is based on principles and values, such as democratic decision-making, participation, equality, etc. that allows for people to collaborate around their common needs and aspirations.”
He says democratisation of the economy holds the key towards the quest for building a poverty-free society. Cooperatives are better placed because of their inclusive character that helps to mobilise people to become active participants in shaping their lives, he adds.
“The Harambee Prosperity Plan, Vision 2030 will be short-changed unless we realise the very strong potential within the cooperative business model. As a nation that is in search of innovative solutions aimed at eradicating poverty the cooperative business model provides the opportunity, as cooperatives are a vehicle of growth and development.”
The cooperative business model offers unique solutions to complex contemporary problems and unique opportunities to the socio-economic challenges Namibia faces, he says. “We are aware that economic growth has not … trickled down to uplift the poorest sectors of our economy. Rather we have seen that economic growth without carefully designed policy interventions continues to further widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The revised policy aims to broaden economic participation as cooperatives provide the platform for people to participate in economic development.”
Some I46 cooperatives are registered with the Registrar of Cooperatives under the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry. Out of 155 cooperatives only seven have achieved full registration. The reasons that lead to lack of full registration by cooperatives is a complex matter but can mainly be attributed to the lack of compliance towards the Cooperative Act.
Dempers said government has the responsibility of creating the needed policy environment and other interventions such as for example through its procurement arrangements that favour cooperatives being given a socio-economic role. The other area could be tax incentives.