SWAPO Party MP Petrus Iilonga donned his workers' beret when he pleaded that a section in the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (Neeef), which stipulates that Government may sell off some of its assets, be done away with. "We cannot allow that to happen," he said, describing State assets as the meagre assets of the poor.
Making his contribution to the discussion in Parliament on Thursday on the Neeef policy introduced by Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, in October last year, Iilonga further proposed the establishment of 13 regional trust funds, capitalised, for example, from fishing and mining royalties, to be accessed by all Namibians "irrespective of political affiliation", to make a dent in the all-pervasive poverty.
While stating that an empowerment policy is long overdue 22 years after independence, All People's Party (APP) president Ignatius Shixwameni questioned how equity can be attained in a capitalist system.
"The workers cannot be equal to their employers - the capitalists, the bourgeoisie and petit bourgeoisie!" adding that he still has to be convinced of the concept of social welfare capitalism.
He thus proposed that the word 'equitable' in Neeef be removed as it is misleading.
Shixwameni further proposed that the State plays a central role in the nation's socio-economic development and that can not be left to the private sector alone.
Moreover, he said, a compulsory mechanism must be inserted in the proposed Neeef policy that requires all companies to have at least 49 or 51 per cent previously disadvantaged shareholding for a start.
Namibian ownership should constitute 51 per cent in all mining, agriculture, tourism, fishing, and financial enterprises, he added.
Those to be empowered, said Shixwameni, should not just include the politically and economically well-connected, but constitute the entire breadth and depth of the Namibian society.
"After 22 years without a policy and legal framework, there are those who have already been empowered through 22 years of continuous tenderpreneurship. We would like to see this category of people not to continue benefiting from Neeef," Shixwameni said. He proposed a list of the beneficiaries to be drawn up to ensure that they do not "re-benefit" so that all Namibians can have an equal share of the cake.
"We all know them and they must be put on a parking list for at least 10 years. Let us see other people from all the 13 regions benefit," he stressed.
Shixwameni further said Namibia should be careful of foreign investment at all cost and at the cost of the nation's self-reliance.
"We must rather encourage and incentivise more and more local investors to build our national economy and also help them invest abroad," he said.
Angula last week said Neeef - first proposed as Namibia's version of South Africa's black economic empowerment policy, later renamed as the Transformational Economic and Social Empowerment Framework (TESEF) in 2008, and reverting to Neeef - is to transform the "inflexible structural socio-economic inequalities in our society.
This will be done by adopting an inclusive and all encompassing approach which requires the collaboration of a wide spectrum of stakeholders, agencies and or benefactors" to integrate deprived Namibians into the economic mainstream.
He said Government's most important contribution to this endeavour is to pursue economic policies that generate sustainable and decent employment of the mass of the population.
The private sector, he said, should play the leading role in creating decent employment. Private sector should thus be encouraged to become more equitable and make a greater contribution to economic transformation, he said.
"Social liberation and economic empowerment of fellow humans ought to be an individual and a collective resolve of every Namibian as a noble act of solidarity and reciprocal affirmation," Angula said.