Namibia faces the triple challenge of income disparities, high unemployment and the existence of pockets of poverty despite efforts to redistribute wealth meaningfully, president Hage Geingob said on Wednesday.
Geingob told parliament during the presentation of the fourth state of the nation address in Windhoek that since independence in 1990, the government introduced a range of redistributive laws and policies, through a combination of social service provision, social safety nets and taxation.
Some empowerment initiatives, Geingob said, including employment equity, land resettlement, affirmative action loans for the purchase of commercial land, granting of fishing quotas and mineral licenses, the creation of community conservancies, provision of social housing and significant investment into education and training were introduced.
Geingob said notwithstanding all this, income inequality persists, aggravated by Namibia’s unique political history.
“We should, therefore, address underlying structural impediments that make it difficult, if not impossible for many Namibians to meaningfully participate in the economy,” he said.
He added that although Namibia was proud to cater for the vulnerable citizens through the provision of social safety nets, there is no way a prosperous nation could be built through social welfare alone.
To correct the historical imbalances, Geingob said the government came up with the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Policy Framework (NEEEF).
He said the controversial NEEEF clause that required companies to cede a 25 percent stake to previously disadvantaged will not translate into broad-based empowerment and has been done away with.
The government role, according to Geingob, is to create a conducive business environment where owners, whether black or white, who can afford risk capital, can participate in equity transactions under NEEEF. Enditem