Geingob moves ahead with National Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework
Speaking at the official opening of the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) Cabinet workshop this week, President Hage Geingob said his government was busy with the final leg of consultations before the tabling of the draft bill in Parliament later this year.
“The NEEEF consultations and the implementation of the strategy constitute a necessary intervention in dealing with structural inequality, of which income disparities and lack of participation of the black majority in the economy remain a glaring legacy of our past. We will not allow the status quo to continue,” Geingob said.
He further said that government has allowed ample time for consultations on NEEEF. First, Geingob said, government needs to get feedback on the outcome of the nationwide stakeholder consultations on the NEEEF and the Draft Bill. Thereafter feedback will be provided to the Technical Team on key policy and legal issues, which may need to be revisited, revised, replaced or even jettisoned.
“Our debate should be guided by the principle of accelerated broad based economic empowerment. Broad-based economic empowerment should include impoverished communities and workers in envisaged empowerment schemes. We should also focus on the plight of farm workers, domestic workers and all disenfranchised Namibians when we discuss empowerment,” the President noted.
NEEEF and the attendant Bill were drafted in line with the provisions of Article 23(2) of the Namibian Constitution. It is similar in intent to the Affirmative Action (Employment) Act 29 of 1998.
Geingob stressed that Article 23 authorises government to enact legislation providing directly or indirectly for the advancement of persons within Namibia who have been excluded from educational opportunities and economic activity by past discriminatory laws and practices. In the same vein, he added, it also calls for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at righting social, economic or educational imbalances in the country.
“I am aware that there are some who have made it their mission to ‘prove’ that certain provisions in the NEEEF Bill are unconstitutional. Our Republic is founded on the rule of law. I must, however, express my disappointment with the way we approach the deep-seated predicament- our country is faced with shocking income and wealth inequalities – in the company of Haiti and South Africa. It is not a sustainable position,” Geingob said.
Geingob said that the practice of income and wealth inequality is still evident today, noting that if left unattended, high rates of income and wealth inequalities would threaten the country’s social cohesion, political inclusion and peace.
“It is for this reason that our Constitution made provision for affirmative action to rectify the inherited dilemma of inequality and underdevelopment of the majority,” he added.
The purpose of the Cabinet workshop is to gain insights from the Prime Minister about the evolution of the Bill and to consider major concerns expressed by the public. The Chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission will lead a presentation on that during the course of the workshop.
“It is my expectation that we give direction and pointers to problematic questions. We should not stall the momentum, but leave this workshop having shared excellent ideas and provided urgent answers to the critical questions raised. This is the only way to complete the process on this important matter. If so required, further high-level consultations may be undertaken before Cabinet pronounces itself on the way forward for NEEEB. It is my expectation that the Bill should be tabled in Parliament this year,” Geingob said.
Geingob will soon steer a reformed Economic Advisory Council, whose membership will be drawn from different industries, operating in both global and domestic markets, and enterprises, both large and small.
Caption: Under NEEEF it will be mandatory for white-owned businesses to sell a 25% stake to blacks.