Geingob defends Namibia’s NEEEF stance

15 Feb 2018 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 15 FEB (NAMPA) – Amid pressure to finalise the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF), President Hage Geingob said Namibia is targeted instead of being assisted in its quest to address inequality.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by European Union (EU) ambassadors at State House on Thursday, Geingob said Namibia will not allow itself to be “bullied”, particularly in passing the NEEEF.
Geingob said Namibia faces a major structural challenge in the form of inequality and questioned what the EU was doing to address it.
He narrated how apartheid South Africa denied black Namibians access to basic rights, political rights and were left out “completely” in participating in the economy, something NEEEF intends to address.
“What do you [EU] offer? Not just protecting white people. What do you offer to address inequality in this country? I would like to hear from the ambassadors. What do you offer? Status quo?” said Geingob.
He added that the status quo – whereby Namibia’s wealth is in the hands of a few – has been maintained by not addressing inequality.
“Don’t tell me create jobs… How? How do you want us to address inequality?” he asked.
The President further noted that the scourge of inequality in Namibia was no laughing matter.
Geingob was responding to calls by the EU to speed up the passing of NEEEF into law, as it creates uncertainty for investors.
This was after Minister of Trade, Industrialisation and SME development, Tjekero Tweya complained that Namibia continues to be judged on NEEEF – a key concern raised by the EU – despite it not being a law.
Geingob asked: “So ambassador, do you think we are sleeping and sitting on it [NEEEF]? There are problems. We could have implemented it and you would have cried. People are angry there. We stopped them. We’re trying to negotiate and to educate them.”
Responding to Geingob’s question, German Ambassador to Namibia Christian Schlaga said Germany has engaged Namibia for the last 27 years where it has made the highest per capita ratio investment than in any other African country in terms of cooperation.
“This is fighting inequality. Whatever we have done in the past, we have done in order to contribute to the economic and social development of this country and that is fighting inequality,” he said.
He also called for a decision to be taken on NEEEF “as soon as possible”.
“Nobody is saying NEEEF is in place. Nobody is saying Namibia has already decided, which is part of the problem,” he maintained.
Schlaga said business people, particularly from Germany, who wish to invest in Namibia are worried by the uncertainty posed by NEEEF.
“As you all know, the last thing business people want is uncertainty. They would like to have a clear cut framework within which they can operate. That is all we are asking. And we kind of reflect the sentiment coming from the business community,” he explained.
The draft NEEEF Bill caused a stir due to, among other things, the clause that made it mandatory for white-owned businesses to sell a 25 per cent stake of their business to black Namibians. This has deterred investors from investing in Namibia, according to media reports.
As further consultation continue, the refined draft NEEEF Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament this year.