Govt mum on NEEEF 25% clause removal

14 March 2018 | Government

The government this week would neither confirm nor deny an allegation that it planned to remove a clause in the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework that would in future potentially allow previously disadvantaged Namibians to own a potential 25% stake in white-owned businesses.

Local weekly Windhoek Observer reported last week that the government had bowed to pressure to do away with the clause on ownership and instead extend the clause to cover all Namibian communities instead of previously disadvantaged Namibians following the conclusion of a one-day cabinet workshop held to discuss modalities surrounding NEEEF.

The chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission, Yvonne Dausab, would neither confirm nor deny whether the government was looking at doing away with the clause and said the cabinet was still deliberating on all aspects of NEEEF. “I am unfortunately not at liberty to say anything on that article or the correctness of its content. We are all waiting for a cabinet decision on the proposals that were made,” said Dausab.

A reliable government source informed the weekly last week that the cabinet had a robust debate during a workshop held in Windhoek three weeks ago, and in the end, the consensus was that the 25% clause should be removed in place of broad-based empowerment that will include all communities in Namibia.

The Chamber of Mines of Namibia has also in the past voiced its concerns about the planned implementation of the framework, saying it could potentially harm Namibia's attractiveness as an investment destination.

“The outcome of NEEEF is still uncertain, though we have it in good faith that government is cognisant of the sector's concerns with the current version of the bill. The chamber is concerned that the continued uncertainties around NEEEF will further worsen Namibia's rankings in the Fraser Institute reports as detailed in a following section,” said chamber president Kombadayedu Kapwanga.

President Hage Geingob recently blasted those opposed to NEEEF. Taking a swipe at naysayers and detractors, Geingob said while there was opposition to NEEEF, there was seldom discussions on suitable alternatives.

“Our response to those that try to discredit government interventions at every opportunity is: what are your solutions? Sadly, very often, the reply is a deafening silence,” Geingob said during the workshop that was held at State House on NEEEF.

Citing Article 23 of the Namibian constitution, the president said there was provision made to enact laws that would address economic inequalities as had been the case with the Affirmative Action Act, therefore making them constitutional.

“I have to remind you 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, it also calls for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at righting social, economic or educational imbalances in our country,” added Geingob.

Opposition to NEEEF, he said, was surprising and unwarranted given that wide consultations were still being held.

“The final leg of the consultation is now before us. It is disturbing to note that there are some who have cast aspersions on the framework, even before consultations were concluded,” said Geingob.

Cabinet has not said when it will pronounce itself on the outcome of the workshop or when it will release its final position on NEEEF. Questions were also sent to the prime minister, but no responses were received at the time of going to press.

OGONE TLHAGE

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