Tuesday, 25 August 2009

White and Black Economic Empowerment

Namibia has gone through various political changes over the past two centuries. One thing however is always constant. Once the political change occurs, there is a realisation that political independence means very little without economic ownership change. When the English ruled over Southern Africa they had the economic might. The Afrikaner took over and had to create state institutions such as the “Eerste Nasionale Ontwikkelings Korporasie” (ENOK or First National Development Corporation) to allow Afrikaner businessmen to get a share of the economic pie. The also created other institutions that should be supported by their people to become as powerful as the English ones, for example banks and insurance companies (Sanlam, Santam, etc.).

In much the same way, the black people of Namibia need to become participants in the economy. The first efforts were made in the early 1990’s to unite the two chambers of commerce, namely the Windhoek CCI and Windhoek Business Chamber. This resulted in the Namibia National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the predecessor of the present NCCI.

This was one of the most challenging times in my working life. The mistrust of decades had to be plastered over for the sake of the country and our newly created democracy. We succeeded.

BUT, we only plastered over the problem. The black majority is still not participating in the meaningful way promised by the politicians. Or for that matter, the way the previous English and Afrikaner political movements allowed their voters to prosper.