Young people survive on pensions – Venaani

McHenry Venaani

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani says young people, especially in rural areas, are living off old-age pensions.

He says little economic activity takes place in rural areas, resulting in no job opportunities for young people – despite being skilled.

Minister of finance and public enterprises Iipumbu Shiimi yesterday increased the old-age pension by N$200 to N$1 600 per month.

Venaani on Tuesday commented on a motion moved by PDM member Maximalliant Katjimune to probe small and medium enterprises’ financing challenges, saying: “Young people in this country live off old-age pensions. The old-age pensioners are the people driving rural economies today.”

He said young people with vocational skills are not given opportunities to thrive in economic activities at their villages.

“If there is a tender in a village, at least get your workforce from the area so those people can benefit. Now these people are always left stranded,” Venaani said.

“The rural economies are dead, zero. It’s the elders moving them, while young people, who are the majority there, have nothing to do,” he said.

Commenting on small and medium enterprise (SME) funding in Namibia, Venaani said local companies are not growing and SMEs are not supported enough to become engines of job creation and growth.

Venaani made reference to the country’s procurement system, which prevents SMEs from surviving.

“The construction industry has for the past years been on its knees. The government gets projects from China to build a stretch of 42km, and a Chinese multinational company gets that tender. You are killing our SMEs,” he said.

Venaani lashed out at the banking sector, saying banks have a tendency to take limited risks by not funding SMEs, or by demanding collateral to secure loans.

“This tells you very few are walking the talk of financing SMEs,” he said. Katjimune said the parliament must investigate the bottlenecks around SMEs in the country.

He said there are curently more than 70 000 micro, small and medium enterprises in various industries in Namibia, according to a report by the International Finance Corporation.

“The sector contributes around 12% to the gross domestic product and employs around 200 000 people, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency. Therefore it is undeniable that the SME sector plays a crucial role in our economy,” Katjimune said.

He said the most fundamental impediment the SME sector faces in Namibia is a lack of financing and access to capital – especially in light of the collapse of the SME Bank in 2017.


Responding to Katjimune’s motion in parliament, prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the issue of strengthening government support to SMEs has been on the executive desk for a while.

“We have started implementing a number of measures in order to realise what the honourable is calling for. We have approved additional measures at Cabinet, and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology will announce them on Thursday [today],” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.

She said one of the measures is the establishment of a microfinancing fund, which will receive an annual budget from the government.

“This is to close the gaps that exist in the funding system to micro, small and medium enterprises,” she said.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the Cabinet has also approved the establishment of a community development programme, which will receive a budget from the state each year.

Other measures include cash- and food-for-work programmes and the establishment of an employment creation fund to be spearheaded by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation.

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