The New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) Bill remains in draft form and Cabinet is expected to receive new proposals on a number of issues raised during public consultations.
Among the items to be addressed in the new proposals is the 25 percent compulsory divestment, the very component that has some member of the public worried over false claims that business owners would be forced to give away a portion of their companies without compensation.
“The Bill is still in a draft form and will be resubmitted to Cabinet following recent consultations and the suggestions made by various stakeholders, therefore this impression is wholly inaccurate and misleading,” presidential press secretary Albertus Aochamub said in a statement yesterday.
Aochamub was berating media reports that created the impression that the draft law is enforcing a division amongst black and white business owners.
The Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) was tasked to produce a fresh draft with recommendations to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to address the concerns raised in the public consultations.
Besides the 25 percent compulsory divestment, other items flagged for revision include the importance of skills development, the definition of previously disadvantaged persons, and the composition of the council that would draw up the economic empowerment framework.
The decision to task the LRDC was made after the inter-ministerial committee met to consider the public proposals. The inter-ministerial committee includes representatives of the Office of the Prime Minister, the Labour Commissioner’s Office, the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, the Office of the President, the National Planning Commission and the LRDC.
Aochamub said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila is expected to submit new proposals on the flagged items to Cabinet for approval in principle during the month of May.
Once Cabinet approves the proposals, a revised version of the draft will be subjected to the Cabinet committee on legislation and possibly for further targeted stakeholder consultations before it is submitted to the legislative drafters. When the drafters are satisfied with the text of the draft law it will be submitted to the attorney general and then to parliament for consideration.
“Given that this Bill is in most parts very technical, as with the provisions dealing with the development of the empowerment standards and the accompanying scorecard, it will require many more processes and discussions for refinement of the implementation modalities,” Aochamub said.
“The road to NEEEF becoming law will, therefore, depend on how fast we can get through these processes, but the public can be assured, given the nature of income inequalities the Bill is intended to address, that government sees this Bill as a priority,” he said.
“It is regrettable that in flagrant disregard of basic reporting and media standards none of the authors, reporters and/or editors of the print and electronic media have sought comment, or an update on the current status of the Bill. This is particularly unfortunate, given that it dilutes the noble objectives of the Bill and also misinterprets the call for unity and support for how the draft law can be improved to serve the Namibian people collectively,” Aochamub said.
He further said the fact remains that Namibia was subjected to systemic colonialism and apartheid rule that deliberately disadvantaged sectors of our society economically, socially and educationally. This has led to a gross income inequalities that continue to create unease among its citizens 27 years after independence.
Aochamub said there is still anxiety about existing income disparities, skewed ownership of productive assets, low level of participation in business by previously disadvantaged persons, lack of socio-economic transformation in traditional and communal communities, high level of youth unemployment and continuing racial imbalance in the management and control of private sector enterprises.
“President Hage Geingob has made the point on numerous occasions that the NEEEF is designed to partially respond to this national problem that every Namibian citizen and all friends of Namibia with a conscience should support and embrace,” he said.
“The continuing divisive tone and deliberate misinformation to scare off investors and pit Namibians against each other should not be tolerated by any peaceloving Namibian.
Government has consulted widely on NEEEF and members of the public and representatives of various stakeholder groups have had their say to be reflected in the revised draft document.”