By Nico Smit
As a member of the senior leadership of the DTA, I wish to express my utter shock and disbelief upon reading that Namibia Breweries Limited has engaged in a sponsorship deal with a South African provincial rugby franchise, the Griqua Rugby Union.
It is my belief that seeing a Namibian company, which produces a symbol of national pride, engage in a sponsorship deal with a foreign-based sports team that has no linkage to Namibia, will come as an affront to the sensitivities of every patriotic Namibian. It is unacceptable and quite frankly disgusting that the Ohlthaver & List Group would decide to invest in sport in South Africa instead of Namibia.
Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of what is consumed in Namibia is produced in and imported from South Africa, South African businesses exporting to and active in Namibia spend virtually nothing on any form of development initiatives in Namibia that amounts to real socio-economic advancement and/or upliftment of the majority of Namibians. As such, I find it difficult to comprehend how the Ohlthaver & List Group could come to such a decision despite to say that it is a symptom of the colonial mentality – it is white-owned monopoly capital in Namibia supporting their colonial masters in South Africa.
On its website, the Ohlthaver & List Group have announced that Tafel Lager have acquired the naming rights of the Griqualand West Rugby Stadium in Kimberley, South Africa, as well as the naming rights to the team, which will henceforth be known as the Tafel Lager Griquas.
One can only imagine that such a feat does not come cheaply, and that the sponsorship will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars for the three-year duration thereof. And to think, this week local media reported that the Ministry of Basic Education will in all likelihood have to slash the per child allocation for universal education at public schools, yet a Namibian-owned company which was built on the backs of Namibians would rather spend its money on sport in South
Africa than on education in Namibia.
The Ohlthaver & List Group have further claimed that their sponsorship of the Griqua Rugby Union will benefit Namibian rugby through the inclusion of the latter into the provincial Currie Cup competition in South Africa. Such a statement only serves to reveal the complete lack of understanding of sports development at the Ohlthaver & List Group as well as the low level of priority it attaches to one of the symbols of national pride such as the Namibian national rugby team.
Firstly, if the Ohlthaver & List Group was committed to the development and advancement of rugby in Namibia it would be better served by investing money in the local game by making possible for clubs to attract top coaches and administrators and players to become professional, meaning they should have pumped the money into the local game. It will not do our national rugby team any good to compete against professionals in South Africa while they remain
amateurs – the playing field will remain uneven and we will always be at a disadvantage.
Secondly, and in light of the above, our national rugby team will remain uncompetitive, and as we have seen over the past years, one of our symbols of national pride will remain the whipping boys to the South African provincial teams. We have the Ohlthaver & List Group to thank for this.
It goes without saying that the decision by the Ohlthaver & List Group to engage in this sponsorship deal is entirely selfish in nature – it was never meant to benefit Namibian
society at large or Namibian sport, but rather it will benefit South Africans and the handful of executives at the Ohlthaver & List Group who have revealed themselves as unpatriotic
as can be.
It is because of such despicable behaviour that this year I will table in Parliament a motion calling for legislation that will compel all businesses operating in Namibia who earn an after-tax profit above a certain threshold to invest a set percentage thereof in either sports or education development in Namibia. It is unacceptable that foreign-owned and especially South African businesses are exporting their products to Namibia adding little to no value here, paying Namibians subsistence wages, whilst all the while exporting hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to their countries of origin.
Nico Smit is theTreasurer General, DTA of Namibia