• December 1st, 2020

Release the list of all government landlords

Dr Elijah Ngurare

A few years ago, we worked on a developmental document with the late Dr Abraham Iiyambo. It was titled ‘Black Economic Empowerment Policy’. 

We were basing it on the Swapo Party political program. The debates raged on within the party and so too in government. In the end, we lost the battle and it was suggested that there must be a compromise for a policy which doesn’t discriminate against whites or favour blacks. 

It later came to the Transformation of Economic and Social Empowerment Framework (TESEF), and thereafter what is now called the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF). These compromised frameworks are still neither here nor there. The BEE legislation, in its original form, also slumbered into obscurity.

In the absence of such a legislation, a lot of grey areas continue to manifest today. I would like to analyse the reporting in the media outlets, including The Namibian newspaper, regarding the rental arrangements for AMTA on the property which belongs to black businessman Erastus Shapumba. 

What is in the public domain is that AMTA has presumably overpaid on its rentals obligation to Shapumba. A number of articles have therefore been written to amplify that narrative. 

Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein equally appears to have endorsed such a narrative - fair and good, but it raises one or two more questions requiring further scrutiny. 

I would think the best that the media or the ministry should do is conduct a thorough analysis of government’s rental bill. To do fairness to the homework, let the Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila together with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Enterprises, led by Minister Leon Jooste, do comparison with monthly rental amounts being paid for renting Sanlam Building and Kenya House where the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Veterans Affairs are hosted, just to mention a few. 

The aforementioned examples are both foreign owned buildings and the money that the government spends on these rentals possibly find its way out of the country, hence creating employment outside Namibia. 

How many millions have government spent monthly on the above-mentioned rentals so far in comparison with a few hundred thousands paid to a building owned by a Namibian from a previously disadvantaged background?

These findings must be shared with the public.  For now, I leave it in the capable hands of the media to tell it as it is, and without fear or favor. Let it be published in the newspapers to see whether black landlords and white landlords are benefitting equally from what is estimated to be a N$2 billion rental price tag. 
This will put to rest suspicion that perhaps blacks are being unfairly targeted – or that the media is paying a blind eye to similar activities by white landlords.

The business environment for black people is already difficult but the few that are successful are perhaps subjected to unfair media coverage. 

Where there are legitimate grounds it is the role of the fourth estate to do its work but it is unlikely that only blacks are to be singled out. Once again, the OPM, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Enterprises should make public the entire list, otherwise the inevitable conclusion I can reach is that Erastus Chicco Shapumba is being unfairly treated and prosecuted for being a successful black businessman.

Staff Reporter
2019-06-21 10:08:20 | 1 years ago

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