NCCI, business must find each other

THE imploding fallout between the Namibian business community and the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) which is supposed to be their representative body, should be remedied by exhausting all avenues that can drive towards consensus and collective growth.

It is disheartening that a large contingent of business people have lost confidence in the NCCI and that this fallout has been nurtured until it has boiled over to a situation where a splinter group dividing the voice of the business fraternity could emerge.

With the advent of Covid-19 and the increasing pressure on businesses owing to the economic hardship the country currently faces, there is no denying that a divided business sector will acerbate the problem at hand and will weaken the collective action of the sector which for now is to solely survive.

Perhaps a new constitution which better represents both large and small scale businesses is now needed but the critical factor is that the business community needs to address this within the organisation which they have built for a long time. Equally, the chamber itself must understand that it has the ultimate responsibility to provide input that in this time shapes national policies that work with the private sector to drive sustainable development and extend prosperity for all.

As a premier voice for business in Namibia the chamber must not forget that it is there to advocate for an atmosphere in which business can be done and also shared. As its purpose reads, “We associate to leverage and collaborate as a group, to tap into the collective wisdom of our group to help find solutions to our own business challenges of growth, strategy and sometimes just plain survival; to benefit ourselves, our fellow members and the people of Namibia at large”, this purpose must be met by diffusing unnecessary tension and calling for collective dialogue especially with disgruntled branch managers that have sway over many local businesses.

As we are all aware, the coronavirus pandemic has delivered a profound shock to the world economy. For this reason alone, this is not time to split but businesses must commit to more responsible and inclusive practices as part of their efforts to build recovery.The pandemic has presented us with a chance as much as a challenge: a chance to segue from a growth economy to a value-based economy, marked by prioritising long-term value and the needs of multiple stakeholders over short-term growth.

Indeed the measures introduced to tackle Covid-19 have focused on reducing fatalities and relieving pressure on health services, with significant economic costs. But it is increasingly clear the pandemic might well cost more in terms of loss of livelihoods, especially in developing countries.

Without business leadership and collaboration across sectors on this agenda as part of response and recovery, Namibia’s recovery strategy stands little chance of being met, and the development gains of the past 31 years may be wiped out. A sobering thought even in the era of Covid-19.