WINDHOEK – The Namibian constitution makes no mention in any of its 148 articles about the informal economy, a situation that was highly criticised this week.
Also receiving criticism this week is the fact that the constitution does not acknowledge social security as a human right.
These were some of the flaws uncovered in the current framework of the constitution by the Namibia Informal Economy Case
Study Report: Assessment on Public Employment Services and Active Labour Market Policies in Namibia, conducted by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation and the Social Security Commission (SSC), launched yesterday.
The study conducted in only eight regions of the country due to limited resources had the objectives, among others, to characterise the informal sector’s nature size, type of work, type of industries, organisation and registration of enterprises, micro-finance services and support and employment.
The study, launched by Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Errki Nghimtina, says: “The Namibian constitution guarantees equality and freedom from discrimination in Article 10 and the rights to dignity in Article 8.”
“The extension of social security to the informal sector prevents discrimination on grounds of economic status and will also promote respect for human dignity for employees in the informal sector,” adds the report. The report also uncovered flaws in the current legislative framework of the Social Security Act (SSA).
According to the report, the regime under which the SSA was enacted did not give attention to or consider the informal sector.
The report says this is evident from the words “informal sector or informal economy” being alien to the SSA.
“The SSA holistically viewed and restrictively interpreted does not acknowledge in explicit terms existence of the informal sector or informal economy in Namibia,” reads the report. “The words ‘informal sector or informal economy’ are conspicuously lacking from its long title,” further reads the report.
According to the report, the definition of the words ‘employer’ and ‘employee’ in section 1 of the SSA are informal sector-biased.
The report says these definitions do not envisage employees in the informal sector whose circumstances of employment might differ.
This is because the definition of ‘employee’ requires a person to work more than two days a week.
The report further says the definition does not contemplate other rebuttable presumptions to employment as may be found in the informal sector. “The definition of an ‘employee’ in the SSA does not include the self-employed, yet self-employed is referred to in section 20 (2) and section 21 (5) refers to the self-employed.”
The report, among others, recommends that the first over-arching reform is to include the right of social security as a human right in the Namibian constitution to give it constitutional grounding.
This is because a question might be asked in the first place as to why social security should be extended to the informal sector if it is not a guaranteed human right in the constitution, which is a supreme law.
Another suggestion is to introduce a new Act altogether that caters for the informal sector. According to the report, these recommendations are premised, among others, on that there are plenty of sections in the SSA that are red flags to informal sector employees and or self-employed persons. In other words, the report says, it detracts from accommodating the informal sector.