Albertina Nakale Windhoek-President Hage Geingob yesterday moved to reassure critics of the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) that the initiative is not to target any segment of the population. White Namibians and foreign investors have previously expressed concern that the framework was being sharpened to exclusively cut into their business. The president, addressing his Cabinet ministers and various stakeholders at State House yesterday during a NEEEF workshop, shot down suggestions that the framework would affect the country’s economic competitiveness. Geingob, a former trade minister, said he is aware of individuals hell-bent on plucking holes in NEEEF, with the aim of having it declared unconstitutional. He expressed dismay that critics seem happy with shocking income and wealth inequalities – some of the worst in the world. He said the NEEEF consultations and the implementation of the strategy constitute a necessary intervention in dealing with structural inequality, of which income disparities and lack of participation of the black majority in the economy remain a glaring legacy of the past. “We will not allow the status quo to continue. The final leg of the consultation is now before us,” he said. However, he expressed gratitude that some have made use of the consultative sessions to provide inputs on how to address this difficult issue. In addressing the issue of income inequalities, Geingob said his government is not starting on a blank page. “We have allowed ample time for consultations on NEEEF. This workshop demonstrates the difficult road we have travelled,” Geingob maintained. Government needs to get feedback on the outcome of the nationwide stakeholder consultations on NEEEF and the draft Bill to that effect, the head of state said. This, he explained, will involve a brief analysis of the difficulties stakeholders had with regard to the interpretation or the logic of certain empowerment provisions in the framework and the Bill. Equally, government will use the opportunity to provide feedback to the technical team on key policy and legal issues, which may need to be revisited, revised, replaced or even discarded. President Geingob said income and wealth disparities remain a global and local concern, and Namibia was no exception. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report of 2017, the growing increase in income and wealth distribution is the trend most likely to determine global developments over the next decade. Furthermore, a report released by Oxfam on the 22nd of January this year, states that 82 percent of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest one percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world population saw no increase in their wealth. According to the World Bank - in terms of the Gini coefficient - Namibia is one of the countries with the highest levels of income disparities in the world. Geingob said since independence, Namibia has made good progress in reducing poverty, with the overall poverty rate declining from 70 percent in 1993/94 to 18 percent in 2015/16. However, the fall in income disparities as measured by the Gini coefficient has only seen a marginal decline from 0.70 to 0.58 during the same period. In the current 2017/18 financial year - an amount of N$6.7 billion was allocated for the administration of various social safety nets. “We have to address the underlying structural impediments, which make it difficult, if not impossible, for many Namibians to effectively participate in the economy, and engage in wealth creating opportunities. Income inequality is aggravated by our unique political history, including the burning land question. It is an unfortunate reality and daily experience - black Namibians continue to bear the biggest brunt from this dark period of our history,” elaborated the head of state. Later this year, Namibia will convene the second national land conference aimed to deal with inefficiencies and challenges around land redistribution, restitution and tenure. Government has previously shot down propositions that ancestral land be on the agenda of that meeting.
2018-02-28 09:14:38 6 months ago