University of Bonn professor Dr. Matthias Herdegen has labelled the proponents of the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) as loose cannons who are paying lip service with little if not any effective action on the ground, The Villager can reveal.
Invited by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung to give a public presentation on “Fundamental Rights and balance of power: Stability and change in the light of comparative experience,” Herdegen emphatically stated that a number of government projects including the NEEEF were half-baked.
“They are very hazy, in the middle of a political process you do not know to what extent and whether at all the government stands behind them, and what is the precise concept of the protagonists that are behind these projects?” questioned the constitutional law expert. “They are like loose canons; they do not even ﬁ re a single shot.
And as you know, a loose cannon does not do damage to the enemy. Sometimes it is better to have a shot ﬁ red with a clear target then you can engage in a clearcut discussion and in the end have it out, possibly in legal proceedings,” he challenged government. He went on a tirade submitting that the continued political bickering was delaying the entire process hence creating uncertainties. “These half-baked projects, without tangible contours which are not logically thought through to the very end create uncertainties because they drag on, like a loose cannon that is rolling on the deck for years.
And that is in my view a very interesting facet of the political process which deserves close attention,” he said. Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) boss Tara Shaanika agreed with Herdegen although he submitted that government had covered some ground albeit amidst so much dissent. “He is probably right; government has been talking too much without putting down something concrete. But in the last year we have seen government coming up with some concrete proposals on what they want to do.
Of course, there are disagreements about what they are proposing but they have come up with something very concrete. It’s now for us to participate in the constructive process which government has put in place,” said Shaanika. Political Analysts Dr Andrew Niikondo voiced his concern over the feet-dragging saying, “The Professor is correct, we are just talking and nothing is coming out. Whenever you come up with something then there must be a plan of action. At the end of it, stage by stage, we should be able to say this is what should be done.”
In his presentation, the professor also challenged the debate around the emotive ancestral land claims with statements that may trigger outrage from some sector of society, stating that such rights that date back to pre-colonial history was baseless. “It seems to me that many very intelligent people who know a lot about this subject table the issue without considering the outcome.
“You talk to people who know a lot about ancestral rights and they say well let’s get together and get a national conference on land reform, let’s start these ancestral rights. But I ask them what do you mean about those rights? “Do these rights go back to 1950 or do you want to go back to 1880 or the 18th Century? Then I ask them, these ancestral rights do they qualify as property? Because they emerged in societies and tribal cultures with a notion of property,” he said before questioning on whether there will be compensation. He however challenged the voices behind ancestral land claims to consider the economic, political and legal implications of these claims before execution.
“Will there be full compensation? Let’s ﬁ nd that out. And I do think there may be some academic knowledge in these discussions but if you do not know exactly about the legal implications and political and economic costs they may be harmful. There are similar phenomena in Germany and in Europe and I would address with my voice as passionate as I do right now,” he also said.
Concurring with the professor, Shaanika said, “It is very complicated and I don’t think people have any idea of the challenges that have to do with ancestral land. I think Namibia is big enough for every Namibian to live in, I do not believe that as Namibians we should be ﬁ ghting over land.”
The Professor’s criticism of the handling of NEEEF comes in the background of the Germany Ambassador to Namibia Matthias Schlaga having been quoted by The Villager’s sister publication Prime Focus Magazine saying, “Every country should create new wealth than force others to share their wealth.”