For the last 27 years, mainstream politics has discussed addressing the extremity of inequality in Namibia, but has done little about it.
Namibia’s anti-poverty fight and economic growth trends clearly show that indeed there is validity in calling for total economic transformation in Namibia.
More than a quarter of Namibians live below the poverty line, a situation that has placed government in tough position as calls for policies that address inequality become louder by the day.
Black Namibians are still the most vulnerable group when it comes to poverty and unemployment. Consequently, indicators call for the enhancement of effective and progressive policies such as broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE), industry charters, affirmative action and gender equity, to mention but a few.
Government has been receiving a never-ending backlash from the day it revealed that it is planning to introduce the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework. Antagonists are of the view that the framework targets only the rich.
President Hage Geingob this week made it clear that NEEEF is here to stay and called stakeholders to brace it and see it as a tool to fight inequality rather than enriching a few individuals.
“Why do some people not want us to address inequality? I was shocked to learn during my visit to the United Kingdom, even the Queen[Elizabeth II] questioned it. But, we will talk about NEEEF very soon because we have all the inputs,” he said.
White monopoly capital
In his paper titled “What is white monopoly capital (WMC)? Do we need a harmonizing roadmap to post-apartheid economic reform?” economist Rodney Hoaeb warned that the silent racial war on white monopoly capital may be subtle but can fracture the economic backbone of our fragile post-apartheid nation.
WMC is simply defined as capital resources in the possession of white nationals, obtained from blacks during the period of apartheid, such as money, livestock, land, farms, etc. through force, power and regulatory exploitation.
Hoaeb says the promotion of black economic empowerment (BEE) alone is not satisfactory as it undermines and ignores the presence of global capitalists which affects the prosperity of all nationals.
“On one hand capitalism also contributes to the outcomes of development, employment creation, wealth creation, etc, if black capitalism wants to surpass white capitalism, they can only play by the same rules of capitalism. We observe that most emerging entrepreneurs base their enterprise survival on government and development funds and they follow the ambitions of tenderpreneurship and sme roles, but if these funds dry up, so do their businesses ambitions. If the state only promotes the growth of black companies and ignore companies owned by white nationals, then national economic growth will slow down,” he said.
In South Africa, former president Thabo Mbeki has recently cautioned against the use of the term “white monopoly capital”, accusing government of not fully understanding how the economy works.
Lamenting what he describes as the misdiagnosis of the problem, Mbeki challenged both government and the private sector in SA to close the increasing gap and that restoring confidence in the economy was of paramount importance. Purporting innovation as the solution he offered his advice stating ideas were needed to grow the economy.
Hoaeb remarks there is a need to introduce harmonizing roadmaps to resolve the racial divide in the post-apartheid economies.
“I would suggest implementation of harmonized, inclusive and non-discriminatory legal instruments to remedy inequalities in wealth, resources, education employment, land and geographic segregation. In summary, the harmonious interventions should be embedded in legislative, economic, fiscal and monetary frameworks of the country,” he suggested. Harmonization, according to Hoaeb, can be achieved through sound advocacy for equality with rigid inclusive policy measures with binding commitments at national level with measurable strategic outcomes, with possible incentives.
“As pacifist, reconciliatory approach is more bearable for national stability instead of radical outrages. It is also impractical to nationalize resources instead of nationalizing the skills to trade, extract and process the resources, he said.