Itula rubbishes NEEEF
The dentist-turned-politician says a vibrant private sector and investor confidence is the solution to Namibia's economy, “not policies that foster destruction, the continuation of racial discrimination, unemployment and more poverty”.
28 August 2020 | Politics
Former independent presidential candidate and Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) leader Panduleni Itula has lambasted the planned introduction of the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF), saying it is designed to enrich a select few.
“The framework is simply designed similar to the Marine Resources Act to enrich a few. In South Africa, black economic empowerment (BEE) and broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) created no equality nor jobs,” Itula said, in reference to how the fishing law was used during the Fishrot scandal to dish out quotas, allegedly in exchange for bribes.
The dentist-turned-politician vowed to fight against NEEEF's planned implementation once IPC members are voted into the National Council later this year during the local and regional authority elections slated for November.
“The IPC will fight NEEEF never to see daylight in the National Council, which we intend to win, and control the passing of legislation from that legislative chamber,” Itula said during interactions with supporters on social media this week.
“BEE and NEEEF are a form of legalised corruption and we shall not entertain such repugnant policies.”
'Infringe upon property rights'
The introduction of the framework would give government leeway to infringe upon property rights, Itula added.
“The preamble in the NEEEF clearly opens a door for the government to legally not adhere to constitutional provisions under chapter three of the constitution. That is unconstitutional and a violation of a section of our population on racial and social status,” he said.
“There is no evidence that abolished past apartheid laws still pose a threat to security and public order as the preamble suggests.”
He added the framework was a badly constructed policy.
“We cannot seek reconciliation and burden our hardworking business communities and investors with bad, legalised policies that failed elsewhere and are a violation of our constitution. A vibrant private sector and investor confidence shall be the solution to our economy, not policies that foster destruction, the continuation of racial discrimination, unemployment and more poverty,” Itula said.
After approving the revised version of the NEEEF Bill, cabinet tasked Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to submit a draft bill to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation for scrutiny in February.
Economist Rowland Brown, however, pointed out at the time that the devil is in the detail, and there is need for wider public consultation for the sake of transparency.
He also cautioned against the legislation being used as a vehicle to enrich the rich and make the poor poorer.
“There is nothing wrong with legislation that empowers the people, but it is critical that it is done to create opportunities and empower the people with minimum collateral damage. But it would be a terrible thing if it is used for looting and to allow for more Fishrot and not to genuinely empower Namibians,” Brown said in a previous interview.
The bill, meant to have been tabled in 2018, has hit a number of hurdles, including the requirement that businesses owned by previously advantaged Namibians should transfer 25% of their ownership to previously disadvantaged Namibians.
However, during the February cabinet briefing, President Hage Geingob said the 25% ownership pillar should be done away with because it would not translate into broad-based empowerment. Critics further argued that the removal of this clause would provide policy certainty to foreign investors as well as appease local private businesses that threatened to leave the country in the face of this arrangement.
Addressing the Namibia Economic Growth Summit in August 2019, Geingob explained that the tabling of the bill was not a means to take ownership away from advantaged Namibians.
“As we forge ahead towards a new economic identity that is reflective of a more equitable post-independence Namibia, I should make it categorically clear that it is not our intent to take away from those who have, but rather to grow the Namibian economy so that more Namibians can own and manage productive economic assets.”