Indigenisation laws compelling white-owned companies in Namibia to cede at least 25% of their stakes to the majority black population of disadvantaged background have created panic in the country's mining industry.

The Namibian government plans to introduce a parliamentary bill - the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Bill (NEEEB) - to make this mandatory for purposes of distribution to the majority disadvantaged after decades of colonisation.

The government of President Hage Geingob argues that 27 years of independence have not yielded genuine economic transformation. The NEEEF policy will be tabled in parliament after the draft has gone past Geingob, who is eager to address economic colonial imbalances.

The government is concerned the country's means of production remain in the hands of the white population, which makes 10% of the 2.5 million population, while more than 500 000 Namibians wallow in abject poverty.

The generality of the Namibian population also struggles to afford other basics such as land, both in commercial and urban settings.

Such difficulties have in the past seen youth groups marching to challenge government to improve the land policy and also make sure the local folk can afford accommodation.

Chief executive of the Namibia Chamber of Mines Veston Malango revealed the industry was concerned at the moves and believed they would be detrimental to an industry that is already faced with upheaval, especially the flight of investors.

The mines chamber is advocating for what it believes are subtle policies to allow the Namibian market forces to control how the reforms can be implemented.

“Effective partnerships are the only pillars of saving grace in the years to come,” Malango said.

Government is neither fazed by the alarm its planned policies have raised in the sector nor the criticism against the empowerment plans.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has on numerous occasions made it clear that the state was not backing down on the proposed legislation.

She insisted the policies would enable the majority of citizens to also benefit from the country's vast mineral resources.

The biggest contributor (12.5%) to gross domestic product (GDP), Namibia’s mining sector, is largely perceived as a sensitive sector and is driven by diamond and uranium production.

In his keynote at the May Day commemorations, Geingob said there was an “uproar” around the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework.

“While criticising the imperfections of this policy, nobody seems to be bringing any alternative solutions to the table regarding the inequality question wherein NEEEF is located,” he said. - CAJ News