NEEEF bill goes ahead – LRDC
The Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) under the guidance of its chairperson, Ms Yvonne Dausab is currently conducting broad-based consultative workshops on a regional basis on the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Bill (NEEEB). The LRDC has been tasked with the drafting of the bill whose stated purpose is to correct the economic inequality produced by past discriminatory laws and practices.
Dausab explained “The New Equitable Economic Empowerment Bill (NEEEB) is a government intervention to bring equity in the socio-economic environment but more pertinently to redress the great income disparities that exist in Namibia 26 years after independence.
There is anxiety about the fact that 95% of the economic power still primarily resorts with 5% of the Namibian population.”
The bill is anchored in article 23 (2) of the constitution and its primary beneficiaries are intended to be previously disadvantaged persons especially the racially disadvantaged, women and persons with disabilities. The New Equitable Economic Empowerment Bill (NEEEB) provides government with the legal authority to put the NEEEF policies in place. Dausab explained that the LRDC has completed consultations with traditional authorities, persons with disabilities, women in rural areas, church leaders and small business owners in the Kavango East and West regions.
The LRDC chairperson said the the bill is expected to become law by March 2017 adding that the consultations are geared to gather additional views and suggestions on the practical implication and application of the bill. “More particularly the regional consultations are targeting previously disadvantaged people who are not business owners so they are also aware of the intended draft law.” Dausab said.
The LRDC has only until the end of August to present their findings, the report and a draft law to the Office of the Prime Minister for further action and submission to Cabinet.
“This is a very important law reform process. We consult the public and we take their views seriously. We have received mixed reactions from the public but it’s a necessary law if we have to change to a business environment where the majority of our people form part of ownership, control and management and continued human resources development.” said Dausab.
She said that once the consultation process is complete and all the comments consolidated, additional research and bench marking will be undertaken. The bill will further be revised to reflect what is appropriate for Namibia.
Mr Tim Parkhouse, the secretary general of the Namibian Employers Federation (NEF) was one of the stakeholders which attended the NEEEB consultations held in Windhoek.
He stressed that the federation does understand government efforts to redress inequality created by past discriminatory practices. However, he said, there is concern whether or not there is a sufficient number of persons in the disadvantaged population that is apt for ownership and management positions in companies, which is stipulated in the Ownership and Management Control and Employment Equity pillars of the framework.Parkhouse further reiterated the concerns of many business owners regarding the definition of previously disadvantaged, asking if white women are regarded as such in the NEEEB.
He said that some elements that still remain undecided is whether a one man concern could be held subject to the bill and how much turnover would hold a private business liable to NEEEF regulation.
Parkhouse raised further concerns regarding the constitution and the power of the so-called Economic Empowerment Advisory Council, specifically issues pertaining to confidentiality and disclosure of sensitive business statistics and trading data. As a parting shot, he said the NEEEF bill will not encourage investment.