NEEF Bill, BEE reworded
Nicky Katapa Mutenda, Financial Manager at a leading local bank, this week weighed in on the reality of the proposed New Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEF) Bill which he believes is a sad front that will continue the politics of the belly.
Mutenda, who has experience working for Barclays Africa Group Ltd (Previously ABSA Group Ltd) in Johannesburg and having attained his South African Institute of Chartered Accountants accreditation believes that the bill inevitably benefits the elite. “If enacted the bill will do nothing to benefit the poor but the black elites will increase their wealth.”
Mutenda believes that as a country we need tread carefully on the issue of compliance versus genuine transformation and stated that the two are not the same thing. “What we need is genuine transformation of the economy not merely compliance because of compliance sake that companies have to abide by.”
During his tenure as a student activist at the University of Namibia where he also acted then as NANSO Deputy Secretary General from 2009 to 2011 and Rhodes University Namibian Students Society President in 2012, Mutenda was vocal on issues such as the transformation of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), equitably free and accessible quality tertiary education and empowered student councils.
“To me, the NEEEF bill is simply Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) worded differently.” The recipient for the Barclays Global Values Recognition Programme excellence award for his ‘making things happen’ attitude and for being proactive in addressing various issues in the ATIS structure said, laying on thick criticism of the NEEF Bill, adding that, politicians have finally caught up with the fact that BEE was a dismal failure.
“Politicians seem to be convinced that BEE has failed and would like to depart away from perceptions of old as the word BEE apparently did invoke divisiveness and was viewed as a zero sum game hence the decision to reword.” Mutenda added that both NEEEF and BEE are social or economic codes of conduct to allow those excluded entrance and those included accommodated to expand the economic cake.
He advocated for the transformation of the economy and believes most people share that view- the big issue being how to go about the transformation.
“The only difference is that NEEEF has pronounced itself more strongly on economic inclusivity by ensuring that resources and economic opportunities are distributed equitably across the society.”
Reasoning further, Mutenda considers that NEEEF can only come close to flourishing if there is broad based participation in financing the transformation of ownership and regular verification reporting on progress made of previously disadvantaged.
“The Minister introduced in the budget, targeted subsidies earmarked to public financial institutions for private sector support and SME development with no mention made regarding the relaxation of collateral requirements by SMEs to improve their access to funds.” This he said, together with the sub paragraphs in the NEEEF bill that advocates for the Development Bank of Namibia to revisit the rules of the Special Development Fund to make provision for the funding packages that will meet the NEEEF requirements.
“If analyzed further, the wording used (“may”) is very loose and does not guarantee anything, which raises the question of policy coherence and the extent to which access to funds would be facilitated in this regard.” Mutenda renounced.