PRESIDENT Hage Geingob wants the Bank of Namibia to address banking fees, property repossessions and unfair credit terms.
Geingob, who was addressing the staff of Namibia’s Central Bank on Wednesday, said the banking sector’s decisions should be informed by the complaints of all Namibians.
“This should not fall on deaf ears within the parameters of the laws you administer,” he said.
Geingob said institutions must be mindful of economic exclusion, where the haves benefit at the expense of the have nots.
“Remember that our priority is shared prosperity and not prosperity that is exclusive to a certain segment of society,” he said.
Geingob’s call comes as the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) has demanded an explanation from commercial banks on why they are charging customers who don’t normally bank with them higher interest on home loans.
The investigation covers what the NaCC calls discriminatory practices, and possible price fixing and collusion between the country’s commercial banks.
Commercial banks, at the end of last year, had a stock balance of N$179 million worth of repossessed items, an 87% increase from N$95 million at the end of 2020.
This massive increase also comes at a point when most borrowers from the banks are unable to service their loans.
Geingob also wants the Bank of Namibia to prioritise Namibians in rural areas, women, and entrepreneurs in the so-called informal economy in their financial agenda.
Moreover, Geingob also accused young and educated Namibians of being the most tribalist of the population and causing disunity.
Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah labelled Geingob’s statement as problematic and generalising without evidence.
“If it’s true that Namibia is becoming tribalistic then it is the failure of politics and governance to manage ethnic and racial diversity,” he said.
He believes community activists are interpreted as tribalists as a result of their advocacy
“Who else should stand up for them, if they are being marginalised? Was it tribalism for the blacks to question colonial marginalisation? There is a thin line, and evidence is needed before a conclusion is arrived at,” he said.
Kamwanya says Geingob’s thinking deflects from critically engaging with issues at hand or serious challenges.
“It’s important that we, as a nation, learn to face and deal with uncomfortable conversations,” he said.
Analyst Rui Tyitende disagreed with Geingob’s sentiments and said young people are merely airing their frustrations.
“I don’t think young and educated Namibians are tribalists per se, they are simply trying to channel their discontent and disillusionment to the ruling elite regarding their deep sense of hopelessness,” Tyitende said.
He said this is often misconstrued as tribalism, as the vitriol is directed at the head of state, who is the principal source of the country’s various social and political crises.
“It is not the first time president Geingob has uttered such sentiments but I think it is important that we get the context and the factual information under which these remarks have been made by the ‘young and educated people’,” he said.