WINDHOEK, 14 MAY – Some members of the European Union (EU) are now tight-lipped on the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF), despite earlier putting Government under immense pressure to finalise it.
This comes after Government’s decision to remove the 25 per cent equity clause in NEEEF. The clause would have obliged white-owned businesses to sell a 25 per cent stake of their businesses to previously disadvantaged Namibians.
Approached for comment on the matter on Europe Day here Wednesday, Ambassador of the EU in Namibia, Jana Hybášková declined to comment, while German Ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga, who earlier called for a decision to be taken on NEEEF “as soon as possible”, too did not want to be drawn into the debate.
“The president [Hage Geingob] has said everything about NEEEF. I have nothing to say,” was all Schlaga was willing to say.
In a meeting with Geingob earlier this year, EU delegates were persistent that Government finalise the NEEEF draft bill, amid its negative repercussions on the Namibian economy.
“It created an uncertainty for foreign investment,” the ambassadors argued.
In the said meeting, Geingob made it clear that government will not be bullied into passing NEEEF.
“What do you [EU] offer? Not just protecting white people. What do you offer to address inequality in this country? I would like to hear from you ambassador, what do you offer? Status quo?” Geingob wanted to know from Schlaga at the time.
Schlaga responded that businesspeople, particularly from Germany who wish to invest in Namibia, were worried by the uncertainty posed by NEEEF.
“They would like to have a clear-cut framework within which they can operate,” he told Geingob.
Meanwhile, the EU’s silence comes at a time when political parties said NEEEF had lost its essence and was useless without the 25 per cent equity clause.
Rally for Democracy and Progress Secretary-General (SG), Mike Kavekotora said NEEEF had collapsed and what is left makes a mockery of the original plan.
Swapo-Party Youth League Secretary, Ephraim Nekongo said scrapping the clause is not welcomed as they want their people to also benefit.
Popular Democratic Movement President, McHenry Venaani said NEEEF is meaningless without the 25 per cent clause, asking what the clause has been replaced with.
Additionally, Swanu President Usutuaije Maamberua said Government had no guts to implement NEEEF.
“They [government] are just listening to dissenting voices that have colonised us, that have exploited us and want to keep themselves in the status quo.”
On the contrary, protagonists of the clause’s removal have welcomed the move.
Namibian Employers’ Federation SG, Tim Parkhouse was quoted as saying the 25 per cent clause was one of the biggest stumbling blocks to NEEEF.
Government has set aside N.dollars 700 000 for NEEEF in the current financial year.