WINDHOEK - Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Jennifer van den Heever, says the blacklisting of people in Namibia has led to financial discrimination against workers.
These workers are left out with no access to banking facilities and services, such as personal loans and overdrafts, means that can enable them to secure some basic human rights. She remarked in the National Assembly in support of fellow PDM parliamentarian, Vipuakuje Muharukua’s motion on ITC which challenges the appropriateness of blacklisting by creditors and financial institutions through credit bureaus. Van den Heever wants to know from the Bank of Namibia what educational campaigns they have had to date to make the general public better understand the Credit Bureau Regulations: Bank of Namibia Act of 1997, and to equip them with the necessary tools to defend themselves if they are blacklisted.
“If there have been none to date, can they be made to at least consider doing such, as currently it seems as if the law is just enacted to witch hunt people, and yet it is supposed to safeguard them,” she notes. Equally, she wants to know whether the Bank of Namibia has ever informed the general consumers of their right to obtain their credit information from the Credit Bureau, and the various processes that they can go through to make sure their records stay clean.
Further, Van den Heever, challenges the Bank of Namibia on the criteria used to blacklist a consumer in view of the various challenges consumers face daily, disabling them to fulfil their credit obligations, which can be the change of address or region of stay, death of the consumer or bread-winner and loss of income. “These are genuine reasons that consumers may not be able to fulfil these credit obligations, and if there is enough education for them, they would know who and where to approach and seek reprieve, before being blacklisted. Such also should be the case with the Bank of Namibia, how thorough is your investigations into default consumers arrears. Do you ever try every channel of communication to reach out to them before just blacklisting?” she muses.
Other issues she raised is the minimum and maximum number of days, months or years before a consumer is blacklisted, and also the minimum amount a consumer may owe to be blacklisted.
Van den Heever says there are various concerns by consumers that even retail shops can have access to their credit records in a split second while applying to purchase goods on credit. She questions where these institutions get such information from, saying confidential information are easily accessible to anyone to access and use or abuse. “Should there be no provision in the Act that if any company or individual need such information; they should go through a specified channel to avoid anyone and everyone to be able to access it, hence it should be with the consent of the particular individual to have such information disclosed to anyone,” says she.
Regulation 20 of the Act, she notes that it lacks adequate specification when and where a consumer can be blacklisted, hence this Act should be referred to the relevant Parliament Standing Committee to specify this, and for review, the flaws the populace is faced with daily due to blurred regulations in this Act.