Namibian empowerment bill must avoid SA mistakes

Author: John Crabb | Published: 4 Oct 2017

The Republic of Namibia has proposed a new bill that will empower previously disadvantaged Namibians, introducing a new requirement forcing all businesses to be at least 25% held by the 'racially disadvantaged, the disabled, and women’.

Critics of the bill suggest that it is drafted too closely to match the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) act in South Africa, an equivalent bill passed in 2003 following widespread criticism of narrow-based empowerment in the country. The bill has proved problematic for South Africa in recent years, and an ongoing court case to determine whether businesses are 'once empowered always empowered’ or not, has cast a heavy shadow over enterprise, in particularly the mining industry.

"It seems to be written in terms that are very similar to the BBBEE act of South Africa," said Peter Leon, partner and Africa co-chair at Herbert Smith Freehills in Johannesburg.

"BBBEE has regrettably created a...