After the tabling of the ratification of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol, some parliamentarians feel Namibia still has much more to do before considering the protocol. The motion to ratify the protocol was tabled by the Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Lucia Iipumbu.
Debating the motion in the National Assembly, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) president, McHenry Venaani, said the question of value addition is central to broaden the debate of industrialisation.
“No meaningful industrialisation can take place in a society without a process of mechanisation for value addition for you to create jobs,” noted Venaani.
He indicated that Namibia needs to take care of the little it has and reflected on the agricultural industry where he said people still use animals for ploughing after 31 years of independence. Venaani continued that there is a need to promote small and medium enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector, before talking about industrialisation.
“What qualifies Africa to be the biggest trader is because it sells raw materials, so before addressing industrialisation one needs to address the question of value addition. What are the efforts that Namibia is putting to add value to what we are currently producing? Sadly, we sell our raw materials at low value then buy it back at higher prices,” Venaani lamented.
Also weighing in on the debate, Landless People’s Movement (LPM) parliamentarian, Henny Seibeb, cautioned that Namibia needs to be mindful and take realistic steps in the proposed protocol of industrialisation as it continues to meet future challenges of regional integration.
“SADC represents a community with different countries with different economies and at different levels of economic growth. Namibia has no strong industries to talk about. We also witnessed the failure of the Growth at Home initiative, which has no evidence of success up to now,” Seibeb bemoaned.
He further stated that to achieve all objectives outlined in the protocol, Namibia needs a lot of finance which is hard for it to secure given the current economic situation, saying the little allocation of funds allocated to the trade ministry makes it so much more difficult.
Seibeb said addressing the issue of industrialisation outside the framework of value addition on the African continent would be futile, asking; “What is Namibia doing to address the question of value addition?”
The LPM president, Bernadus Swartbooi, also questioned why South Africa is yet to sign the ratification, wondering whether South Africa would be a good neighbour that will support industrialisation in the region.
Swartbooi claimed that South Africa might hesitate to sign the ratification because it already benefits from the under-industrialised economies in southern Africa. He further stated that Namibia needs massive reforms to achieve the objectives outlined in the protocol.
Meanwhile, for the protocol to come into force, minister Iipumbu explained that at least two-thirds or 11 SADC member states have to ratify it.
“Namibia will therefore demonstrate leadership in being amongst the first to ensure ratification of the protocol,” Iipumbu stated.
Upon tabling the protocol, minister Iipumbu said it is essential for SADC member states to ratify it because it is a key pillar in efforts to ensure that industrialisation takes place on firmer footing in the region.