South Africa started it calling it the Mining Charter. Zimbabwe followed suit called it indigenisation. Now Namibia has joined the fray.
Namibia has introduced an draft empowerment bill. This means, if things fall into plan, within a year, new laws obliging mining firms to have, as a bare minimum, a 20 percent stake reserved for the black majority (sounds familiar?) will be passed, as part of the empowerment drive to fight poverty, according to the country’s energy and mining minister, Obeth Kandjoze. This will be a prerequisite for issuing prospecting or mining licences, he explained to Reuters during the recently ended Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
Said Kandjoze: “Within the next legislative calendar, which ends April next year, it (the bill) should become law.The principles are what remain non-negotiable. Namibians of all walks of life, of all sexes, must become participants in the economy and mining is no different.”
Highlighting the continued dominance of “white, male expatriates in management structures, he added: “We continue to see shareholding revolve around a few and we want to see that change. We want to see job creation in a far more transparent, open procurement system that will accord opportunities to all.”
Besides, the empowerment Bill allows for, at least five percent of a mining company to be owned by Namibians.
Government won’t just ride roughshod over the sentiments of those with reservations, thus it is seeking extensive public comment before settling on final quotas, according to the Minister.
Obviously, how a similar empowerment initiative has stalled in South Africa, the empowerment law will give the minister the right to propose amendments in the event the proposed structure of the applicant does not meet the government’s objectives for broad-based empowerment on poverty eradication and empowerment.