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Paternity leave – still a distant dream

Imagine a New Namibia where fathers take time off from work just to care for their daughter or son. A world where the government says, “It is your right to be granted leave from your workplace because you have a new born baby.”
Recent years has seen a rise in the debate on paternity leave, an idea that is not supported by Social Security Legislation but finds an echo in Labour legislation under the Compassionate Leave section.
Paternity leave advocates typically approach the subject from the “Interest of the Child” point of view stating that the first 3 years of an infant’s development, are the most important. Bonding with both parents for longer periods is the motive.
This allows the father to be part of the newborn’s first most important stages of development and granting fathers the rights to paternity leave may empower them to be more active in the care and nurturing of a child at this crucial stage.
A small survey of businesses and organisations was conducted by the Legal Assistance Centre a few years ago, revealing that paternity leave policies are virtually non-existent although people supported  the idea. The LAC have also submitted a written proposal to the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs of the National Council.
In a recent interview with the Legal Assistance Centre, Rachel Coomer, Public Outreach Manager of the Gender Research and Advocacy Project said, “The LAC has not specifically focused on this issue recently due to competing focus areas but we continue to support our recommendations made in the submission.”
“However this year we restarted lobbying work on parental leave by advocating for longer maternity leave. At present the Social Security Commission seems to be increasing the wage ceiling for maternity leave. But we would like to see an extension of the maternity leave like many other countries across the world. We will continue to lobby on the need for improved parental leave.”
She said that paternity leave is important as it shows a sign of commitment by the government to a family-orientated society. “Maternity and paternity leave can be challenging to the smooth running of businesses, particularly small businesses but it is very important if we want to promote the family as the centre of our communities.”
Coomer said there are many social problems related to the care of children, “Starting from baby dumping and including disputes over maintenance and challenges paying school fees. By conceptualising the importance of both parents through a recognition of maternity and paternity leave, we can start to address some of these issues in a long-term strategic manner.”
In explaining, she said that the concept of parental leave has many discussion points. Another area is breastfeeding – the percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfeed their children from birth to 2 months is 53.6%, dropping to 22.9% for children aged 2 to 3 months and further dropping to 5.7% for children aged 4.5 months. “This rapid decrease is a concern given the high rate of HIV infection in Namibia and the importance of avoiding mixed feeding at a young age for these infants.”
One contributing factor is the fact that maternity leave is only three months, with one month taken before the birth of the child. Coomer said given that the World Health Organisation recommends that mothers should exclusively breastfeed their children for six months, the maternity leave provision is a push factor for many mothers to wean their children early.
Another contributing factor is the lack of public awareness about the advantages of exclusively breast feeding for six months. “The government’s National Agenda for Children states that one of its priority strategies is to ‘Promote optimal infant and young child feeding practices: early initiation of breast feeding, exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months of life, and timely introduction of complementary feeding,’ but how does the government plan to achieve this without taking steps to allow for 6 months maternity leave. She said that for many women the push factors to wean the baby early become too much, these push factors could be alleviated if maternity leave was extended to 6 months.

About The Author

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.