NEEEF cannot be empowering the masses but only the economic elite

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Recently Yours Truly Ideologically threw a broadside at Team Namibia’s criticism of the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Bill (NEEEB), which is to see the implementation of the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework(NEEEF).

Criticising Team Namibia for being against NEEEB does not mean that Yours Truly Ideologically agrees in anyway with the principles of NEEEF and what the NEEEB would ultimately instrumentalise if not only symbolise. But the intent was to show and reveal the true nature and character of Team Namibia, which is while pretending to be patriotic and nationalistic, in and out, it is indeed opposed to the Bill for the changes it would ring in, which would be against the status quo, which is the white capital monopoly. In essence Capitalism.

“In a free market system, markets are best suited to allocate scarce resources and allow supply and demand to set prices. The role of government is to uphold the rule of law, maintain the value of the currency and protect property rights. Job creation cannot be achieved if the protection of the private property is not entrenched in government policy. Under One Namibia, One Nation, NEEEB will do more harm than good. There are better alternatives to address the root causes of the socio-economic marginalisation of those who are most vulnerable and affected by poverty and unemployment, and we can find them if we work together,” Team Namibia was categorical in its defense of the status quo, and thus Capitalism as quoted recently in the local media.

As if NEEEB/NEEEF would bring about any fundamental changes to the current socio-economic system, which is Capitalist in nature, content, character, and everything imaginable. Without any pretense at radical socio-economic transformation. Granted that this may be the honest hope and dream of some wellmeaning politicians who may be behind NEEEF.

Thus Yours Truly Ideologically by the broadside against Team Namibia, was by no means in agreement, let alone have any sympathy for NEEEF. For the very reason that NEEEF, like many other similar frameworks before it, like Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Broadbased Black Economic Empowerment (BBEE), are and has never been meant and/or intended to fundamentally and radically transform socio-economic conditions and/or system in Namibia. On the contrary they have been there to simply coopt a section of the Namibian society, the compradors and/or aspiring capitalists into the mainstream economy, Capitalism.

This has been the normal order of things in Namibia since independence, as epitomised and exemplified by major socio-economic policy instruments, which have been more about only accessing and absorbing a few into the mainstream Capitalist economy. As opposed to overhauling the economy. Whether against the best good intentions of some, the reality is that these piecemeal changes have been necessary for Capitalism’s sustenance and survival. Absorbing a few of the previously disadvantaged, an euphemism for the previously exploited, they have become stakeholders in Capitalism, thus serve as a necessary and requisite shield between the mass of the working people, or working class, and the real capitalists. This is the way that the Capitalist system has been sustaining itself.

In Namibia this has been the scenario in public policy making making with most of the policies not fundamental in their nature but adaptive, meaning meant to let the exploited become and adapt to the exploitative Capitalist system in Namibia with those aspiring capitalists serving as a necessary buffer against the growing anger of the excluded and exploited. Because this incremental policy making has been cosmetic in their intent and content, very few of the policies in Namibia on the socio-economic landscape, have had any significant impact in terms of radically transforming the socio-economic livelihoods of the people, especially the workers.

Other than merely tampering with the fundamentals of the socio-economic system as opposed to overhauling it. This is in essence the ultimate impact of NEEEB and NEEEF. Simply tampering with the status quo socio-economically, as opposed to rooting it up.

Given this scenario, those in need of serious empowerment, the workers and their allies, shall continue to live on the fringes of their society, having a mouth to hand existence.

“The New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) represents a subset of the policies required to achieve greater equity in society. NEEEF consists of policies designed to encourage the private business sector to become more equitable and to make a greater contribution towards national economic empowerment and transformation,” reads an excerpt from the NEEEF document, rationalising the framework.

The key word here is “equity” in society. According to Investopodia “equity, typically referred to as shareholders’ equity (or owners’ equity for privately held companies), represents the amount of money that would be returned to a company’s shareholders if all of the assets were liquidated and all of the company’s debt was paid off in the case of liquidation. In the case of acquisition, it is the value of company sale minus any liabilities owed by the company not transferred with the sale.”

Moreso, NEEEF is categorical that it relies on private business owners for such equity. There’s no denial of the fact that inequity and inequality in Namibia is most visible between the haves and the have’s not. Between the majority in both urban and rural settings and the minority, between blacks and whites and between women and men. The legal instruments for NEEEF, NEEEB, is not yet out and perhaps until then the actual provisions thereof, and how they may legally envisages engendering equity, one can give NEEEF the benefit of the doubt.

But from an ideological perspective, there’s little doubt that NEEEF is just another policy instrument to artificially swell the ranks of the Capitalist class. This certainly is not the same as fundamentally changing the economic production system. The majority of rural and urban populaces, the peasants and workers, do not stand to benefit from NEEEF, it goes without saying. In the same way that to a certain degree there has been Namibianisation, or if you wish there has been black economic empowerment within the fishing sector, without necessary a radical economic transformation of the sector. Let alone any notable trickle down to the impoverished and exploited masses in the country.

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