Pressure groups exhibit failing BEE fundamentals

THE emergence of multiple economic emancipation pressure groups, particularly those representing previously disadvantaged Namibians, showcases failing Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) fundamentals which should attract government’s urgent attention.

Recently, we have seen the birth of the Namibia Local Business Association North led by popular northern businessman, Erastus Shapumba which has threatened mass resignations from the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in a bid to better represent the needs of northern businesses that feel the pressure of an economy that drastically slowed since the start of Covid-19 early 2020.

In the same vein the Black Business Leadership Network of Namibia (BBLNN) has been born with similar fundamentals. To rescue black businesses from the jaws of collapse and subsequent loss of jobs and poverty.

To show the depth of its frustration, BBLNN will this week take their economic concerns to government’s doorstep when they deliver letters of demand to various public institutions in a demonstration.

While these and more similar pressure groups may be hastily dismissed as those whose goals are not feasible, their existence shows that entrepreneurship is dying in all sections of the economy and government should find ways to create an environment in which previously disadvantaged Namibians can thrive as enshrined in the fundamentals of BEE.

The current economic dispensation should match the aspiration for economic freedom and the fulfilment of the highest ideals of our democracy. In simpler terms, the aspirations of the black majority need not be side-lined in the new political order we enjoy today. The economic dispensation has not fundamentally shifted towards the black majority; instead the economy arguably remains in white hands in the presence of a black government.

Critically therefore, the aspirations of black people should be elevated throughout society, and this is not wrong to do. It is an ethical requirement because black people have been systematically excluded from fully participating in the corridors of economic power.

We are of the shared view that sustainable economic development and transformation remains an essential cornerstone for increased economic growth that translates into increased standard of living and prosperity. 

This also means government’s intervention is mandatory in economic growth, poverty eradication, employment creation, expansion of infrastructure and social transformation. These are other crucial areas of public policy.

With this in mind, previously disadvantaged Namibians need not lower their standards in the economic arena; they need to dream beyond what is seen. The future of the country lies in the development of black leaders and managers who are supported by a government that is unapologetic about lifting black people out of the doldrums and clutches of poverty.

BEE is therefore a moral imperative, not just a national project.

Our future is buried in and will live through BEE.