HAGE GEINGOB is in a bind. After years of perkiness, Namibia’s economic growth rate shrank from more than 5% in 2015 to a dismal 0.1% last year—and may now have stalled completely. But though President Geingob is an avowed friend of the market and seeks foreign investors, populists within his ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) are calling for measures that would hobble the economy still more, by implementing a draft bill known as the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF). It would knee the business class in the groin, especially the white part of it, which still drives the economy.
Under NEEEF, all businesses, however small, would have to be at least 25%-owned by “previously disadvantaged persons”, broadly meaning black Namibians. No company would be allowed to “allot, issue, or register the transfer of any portion of its ownership…to a person that is not previously disadvantaged or to a domestic or foreign enterprise owned by a person that is not previously disadvantaged”. At least half of all company boards and management would have to be black, too.
If NEEEF were enacted, it would probably be abused by…Continue reading