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South Africa’s latest export: New BEE laws coming to Namibia

CAPE TOWN — Donald Trump’s speech-writers may have dropped the first ‘i’ in Namibia or his high school global geography lessons simply didn’t take in Africa’s vast Namib Desert – but he certainly put it on the map. South Africa is helping put it on the map too, but for entirely different, if not almost as clumsy reasons. You see Nambia is adapting our Black Economic Empowerment, BEE, model, which requires very little education or training for black people to own a 25% share of companies. That fact that whites make up just six percent of the Namibian population versus a meagre nine percent in South Africa is somewhat beside the point – except to importantly emphasise the racial inequities and overwhelmingly white ownership. But simply tinkering with a flawed model that has already seen a flight of capital from our shores is surely not the way to go? Somewhat like our chambers of commerce and industry, the Namibian equivalent is already warning of this. Again, the emphasis is on redistributing existing wealth instead of longer-lasting broader economic stimulation and job creation. About as narrow-minded as calling the former South African- administered territory, Nambia. It’s all about how we use the “I”. – Chris Bateman

Discover Nambia. More cartoon magic available at www.zapiro.com.

By Kaula Nhongo

(Bloomberg) — Namibia will table laws to better distribute wealth among its citizens, most of whom are black, by the end of the year, despite resistance from businesses.

The government of the southwest African nation that’s among the world’s most economically unequal is in the final leg of consultations on the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework that will make it mandatory for white-owned businesses to sell a 25 percent stake to blacks, President Hage Geingob told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Windhoek.

“We have to address the underlying structural impediments which make it difficult, if not impossible, for Namibians to effectively participate in the economy,” Geingob said.

Read also: Here’s how BEE must change to meet Ramaphosa’s vision for South Africa

The bill outlines six areas to increase black citizens’ participation in business, including developing people’s skills and providing financing for those disadvantaged by inequality to buy stakes in companies. While only about 6 percent of Namibia’s 2.5 million citizens are white, they own most enterprises. That’s a legacy of white-minority rule South Africa imposed when it controlled Namibia from World War I to 1990, with black people being disenfranchised and displaced.

The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants the focus on economic ownership scrapped, saying it will result in capital flight.

South Africa has a similar policy; critics say it has failed to redress inequalities because it focuses on increasing black ownership of companies rather than raising education standards to match a skills shortage.

Namibia will draw comparative experiences from South Africa, but its legislation will be unique, Geingob said.

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