Jeremiah Ndjoze Windhoek-The only obstacles between opposition political parties and their ability to amass wealth on the business arena are a lack of innovation and greed among the leaders. This is according to political commentator and lecturer at the University of Namibia, Dr. Hoze Riruako. The ruling Swapo party is the only political party with known business interests in the country. While it is an undisputed fact that political parties that are in power across the world are usually closer to the resources, Riruako has it that the ruling party’s thriving business empire is seemingly ‘built on sound business principles’ – until it can be proven that the party has somehow disenfranchised other political entities in their quest to generate wealth. “There is no way that one can incriminate a party for venturing on the business arena in an open and transparent manner unless it is clear that the party in power has looted treasury to advance its endeavours,” said Riruako in an interview with New Era yesterday. The biggest problem in Namibia, Riruako stressed, is the lack of innovation; and greed that manifests amongst parties’ leaderships. Riruako feels some leaders in opposition parties have access to business opportunities but only use such opportunities to build their personal empires and not to amalgamate and amass these opportunities for the benefit of their political parties. Arena unequal Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) president, McHenry Venaani confirmed that for a political party to compete on the business field is not unheard of, but that the playing field should be levelled for all political parties. “I see nothing wrong with a political party trying to complement its income by venturing into business. But there is something wrong when one party uses its position in government to advance tenders to its entities,” Venaani maintained. He revealed that his newly rebranded outfit is slowly embarking on the establishment of its business arm but refused to divulge more information on the ventures at this stage. He did not mince his words when he stressed that in one way or another, there are manoeuvres that prevent businesses owned by members of opposition parties from getting equitable access to existing business opportunities. “The business sector is shy or scared to support businesses linked to opposition parties because of fear of victimisation, perhaps when it comes to government tenders. And it goes without saying that government is the biggest supporter of business in the country,” Venaani stressed. He added the status quo in the country is a far cry from the situation in neighbouring South Africa where the Democratic Alliance is said to be thriving as a result of support from the business sector in that country. Landless People’s Movement (LPM)’s, Henny Seibeb fingered Swapo’s perceived monopoly in business as a limiting factor to other parties’ endeavours. “One of the areas that we are intending to venture into as LPM is cooperative business alliances. But the system of governance that currently prevails in Namibia is not going to make it easy,” Seibeb said adding that problems will arise when a business owned by a known member of an opposition party tries to do business with the State. “We are in a patrimonial system. People who have influence at the Tender Board, let alone the ministers who have to approve the EPLs are all sympathisers of the ruling party, which in turn has a competing interest,” Seibeb said. He maintained that as the LPM prepares to enter the fray, the party will step in with a few strategies up its sleeves. “The only way that an opposition owned venture can thrive in Namibia is through innovation because as it stands Swapo has employed its status to monopolise the best of the existing opportunities,” he said. Disadvantaged Workers Revolutionary Party’s MP, Salmon Fleermuys told New Era that his party’s business ambitions were blocked by a number of things including government’s delay in disbursing the party’s funding. “We would have ventured into other income generating streams to supplement our income had it not been for the infightings within the party, the court battles that ensued and the delay in the party getting the funding,” Fleermuys said. In November last year the party received N$400,000 for the first time from treasury - after having been in parliament for almost three years. The party also received a further N$2,5 million from treasury last week ‘from the remaining N$4 million that was still due.’ “They didn’t even give us interest that may have accrued on the money for the two years that it was being held. We are just waiting for parliament to resume and then I will demand for the rest of the N$1, 5 million from the Minister of Finance,” Fleermuys said adding that getting all the funds will enable the party to put its structures in place. Big business Swapo has business entities amongst them, Kalahari Holdings which was established in 1989 under the Registration Number 89/186 in terms of the Company Act, 1973 as amended. The company is wholly owned by the ruling party. According to online sources the enterprise has grown from a medium sized company to a large corporation with an asset base of over N$120 million. For the past five years, the company is said to have grown by almost 50 percent, having assets of N$58 million in 2006 and N$120 million in 2012. Kalahari Holdings, together with its subsidiaries and joint ventures employ close to 300 permanent employees, and also makes use of seasonal and casual workers. Kalahari Holdings prides itself in the ability to fund Swapo activities and services throughout the country.
New Era Reporter
2018-01-30 08:50:01 9 months ago