(GIN) – Namibia, the 34th largest country in the world with a population of just over two million is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa per capita, according to a new study by the market research firm New World Wealth.
According to their report released this month, there are 3,300 millionaires and 120 multi-millionaires with wealth of $10 million (US) or more. Most reside in the capital, Windhoek.
Mauritians are the wealthiest in Africa, according to the report, and Zimbabweans were the most disadvantaged.
But between the wealthiest Namibians and the majority is a very wide gap, and the country is classified as one of the most unequal societies in the world.
A proposed New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework was meant to address the “gross income inequality that still continues to create uneasiness among all its citizens 27 years after independence,” acknowledged President Hage Geingob in a recent address.
But according to longtime trade unionist Herbert Jauch, the Framework fails to promote worker rights and only benefits the elites.
Jauch observed: “Despite the introduction of affirmative action in employment to promote women, black Namibians and people with disabilities, staffing at many companies still reflects the old apartheid patterns. Land ownership is still skewed and Namibia’s natural resources like minerals and fish are still overwhelmingly under foreign control.”
“Also, income gaps seem to have widened further with the emergence of a small but wealthy elite alongside an impoverished majority that suffers the consequences of a huge jobless rate. How then does the NEEEF propose to effect economic empowerment in Namibia?”
He continued: “When looking at the proposed ways to achieve this noble aim, the document raises more questions rather than providing answers.”
Since the draft was first announced, the President has issued tweaks to the bill, most recently this month, proposing that white-owned businesses must sell a 25% stake to blacks.
White people make up only about 6% of Namibia’s population of 2.4 million, but dominate business ownership.
“The majority of Namibians remain structurally excluded from meaningful participation in the economy and as we established earlier, inclusivity ensures harmony and exclusivity brings discord,” Geingob told lawmakers.
“We require the support of all Namibians to fix the obvious and dangerous flaws in our social structure.”