The demise of BEE

CURRENTLY there is no legislative instrument that addresses Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), but a framework document has been in the womb since October 2007.

In The Villager’s culture iho hondjo ondhikwa manga okanona ina kavalwa (you don’t name a child before birth). In that document, Villagers outlined strategic components in which they can fully participate in their economy.

That document is about renovating the inflexible structural socio-economic inequalities in society by adopting an inclusive and all-compassing approach which requires the collaboration of a wide spectrum of stakeholders, agencies and/or benefactors so as to integrate deprived Namibians into the mainstream economy. Noble idea. The Villager however contends that if the same was crafted by a consultant from his village it would have read differently by addressing real issues from a local villager’s point of view. Could that be the reason why the baby is still stuck in the womb?

It’s The Villager’s contention that with or without the implementation of the muted policy, villagers should rather focus on increasing enterprise development as the only alternative to grow the economy thereby creating new jobs.

The Villager does not rule out passive investors, who are the BEE boys and girls.

Lack of Exposure

Young Villagers will never be able to qualify for any funding with the financial institutions mainly because of collateral issues. These young Villagers lack knowledge and experience in running businesses and sadly “our” institutions have not been accommodative enough to allow them to prosper in the fields of management, accounting and economics.

There is a difference between a good and bad business. A good business is the one which guarantees you that a dollar today would mean a dollar tomorrow.

People with such knowledge and enterprises are in short supply in the Village.

Growth in ownership

According to that document, “growth in ownership is measured by the previously disadvantaged attaining 51% shareholding in an enterprise.”

It is assumed that the latter will automatically make Villagers spearhead the activities of the company due to the majority stake they own.

That is going to be a tall order considering that people from faraway places will always want to retain control so that they continue directing operations.

If at all they are going to cede their control of the company to the previously disadvantaged Villagers,, they will only be prepared to do so after they have made sure that they have obtained maximum returns on their “investment”.

In most circumstances, the visitors will let go off their shareholding only when the resources are completely depleted and when the company’s existence in the foreseeable future is questionable.

Even if the Villagers have proposed a certain roadmap for the transfer of ownership to themselves the visitors will not be in any hurry to do so, but the opposite is true with the resources that they continue to exploit from time to time.

Villagers are expected to purchase these shares using borrowed funds, which usually come at a cost. A majority of financial institutions in the Village are foreign owned and put blanket conditions for Villagers to borrow, irrespective of their background and or current status.

There is no preferential treatment for Villagers and therefore it is very hard and stressful for any of them to get any funding from the financial institutions. Until further notice, visitors shall continue to have an upper hand when it comes to funding. They will be equipped with all the requirements that “our” financial institutions demand.

In the same breath, Villagers shall continue to be directed to the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) instead of creating an alternative commercial bank with government as shareholder, and this is the bank all patriotic villagers are supposed to direct their deposits to.

What it entails for the Youth

It is sad to note that less has been done in addressing the “bad blood” between the youth and the financial institutions.

Villagers’ applications for funding will take ages before anything concrete comes out of the banks.

In the meantime Operation Exploit Resources (OER) will be on the ascending mode. Pressure from whichever source will not make visitors jump as they are tactically and financially equipped to buy time. They know that in the end all the “noise” will be resolved at the round table over a cup of coffee with or without cakes and biscuits.

Visitors’ investments will produce visitors’ profits and by such they will not accelerate dilution of control. Yes, they will invest in tarred roads to and from the company, build a school near the company, and sub-standard housing and some few recreational facilities. However the lifespan of these facilities are linked to the duration of their stay in the Village.

When Villagers finally get the chance to own majority shareholding, the infrastructure will be heavily depleted, the roads, dilapidated with multiple potholes, and schools will need major renovations together with the staff quarters. Oranjemund how are you doing?

Empowerment can however be achieved in so many ways and institutions ought to be developed for the good and benefit of the youth in nurturing their talent.

The youth of today are full of zeal; they are full of energy, and full of ideas. The youth today are multi-talented and eager to discover new things.

Villagers should give the youth the wings to fly. Villagers should teach them how to fish, as opposed to how to eat fish. They will be able to get their own fishing when their parents answer to the final call of their ancestors.

Sectors that have vast potential to empower the youth:

Innovation and Originality

Besides investing in sports academies that nurture talent sports such as boxing, soccer, rugby, tennis etc, it is high time the youth become innovative and apply the “self-series”.

The youth must be self-reliant, self-motivated, and confident, have self-belief and determined.

And please, the youth of today must not be selfish. Let them create their own industries, let them have their own manufacturing companies, their own banks, their own mines, their own business strategies (in terms of marketing, procurement and manufacturing etc.)

The challenge is upon them to have the strength and the spirit. They should not expect their former political and economic masters to sell profitable shares to them.

They cannot continue to look upon them for exposure to the business world and surely they cannot continue to let the visitors make use of their abundant natural resources.

The trend of poor intelligent Villagers taking their intelligence to their graves should be arrested once and for all. Why can’t villagers use the taxpayers’ money to develop themselves as a people so as to uplift their own lives?

The Villager is worried that the degree of mistrust and hatred among Villagers is overwhelming.

The point is: how do you treasure winning if you do not know the taste of losing?

The Villager contends that the Village cannot be denied economic growth because of failed enterprises. Let those who have stolen from the Village do the Kwiku dance. And clearly, those who fail please give them a second chance because that’s the only way they can learn.

It is time to lead the way and with the guidance that they will continuously get from their parents, their ancestors, their local and national leaders, fully observed, they will achieve greater things. Let them not forget that they are first and foremost, Villagers. They are identified by their culture, and it’s only their culture that will give them identity. Let them practise their unique culture and let them show it through their acts and dedication. The youth can resurrect BEE.

For counter opinion, email:
thevillager@primefocusmag.com
PF