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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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  • 07/31/19--16:00: Company news in brief
  • Company news in briefCompany news in brief SA court rules Old Mutual CEO dismissal unlawful

    Shares in South Africa's Old Mutual fell on Tuesday after a High Court judge ruled that the company's suspension and subsequent dismissal of CEO Peter Moyo earlier this year was unlawful and that he must be temporarily reinstated.

    The judge also blocked South Africa's No.2 insurer, which suspended Moyo in May and fired him in June following a disagreement over an alleged conflict of interest, from taking any steps to replace the CEO while a fuller case against his dismissal was heard.

    Moyo punched the air in celebration on hearing the ruling, which is a blow to Old Mutual after a dispute that has already hit the reputation of one of South Africa’s oldest companies.

    As well as leaving a question mark over who will lead the insurer less than two years into its existence as a stand-alone African financial services group, it could prove costly if a broader case brought by Moyo is successful.

    An Old Mutual spokeswoman said the company, which had hoped the case would be thrown out, was studying the judgement and will decide on a course of action. – Nampa/Reuters

    JSE chief to retire after eight years at the helm

    The chief executive of Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) will retire at the end of September after a transformative eight years at the helm of Africa's biggest securities exchange, the bourse said on Tuesday.

    Nicky Newton-King has been instrumental in demutualising and listing JSE in 2006 as well as its acquisition of the South African Futures Exchange and the Bond Exchange of South Africa.

    "She leaves the JSE stronger, more diverse, more technologically advanced, commercially savvy and client focused," chairman Nonkululeko Nyembezi said.

    Newton-King said: "There is a time at which a CEO needs to step back and allow an institution to be led by a new energy - and that time, for me, is now."

    The board has appointed Commonwealth Bank of Australia executive Leila Fourie as group CEO with effect from 1 October, the JSE said. – Nampa/Reuters

    Massmart shares hit 13-year low after warns of loss

    Massmart has warned it expects to make a loss in the first half of the year as a result of softer than expected sales, margin weakness and higher expenses, sending its shares to a 13-year low.

    Massmart, in which Walmart has a majority stake, is the latest South African retailer to confirm tough domestic conditions as increased value-added tax, unemployment and inflation coupled with higher fuel prices reduce consumer spending power.

    The retailer, which owns general merchandise and food wholesaler Makro, said it expected to report an operating loss before non-trading items, foreign exchange movements and net interest of between 0 and R30 million for the

    six months to June.

    That compares with operating profit before foreign exchange movements and interest for the previous corresponding period of R547.5 million. – Nampa/Reuters

    Huawei: China smartphone sales drive H1 revenue

    Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies warned on Tuesday a US trade blacklisting will impact short-term revenue growth, even as its half-year revenue surged 23% thanks to soaring smartphone sales at home.

    In its first results since Washington placed it on a so-called entity list in May that effectively banned US firms from supplying to it, Huawei also said it remained focused on improving the global smartphone business which bore the brunt of supply chain disruptions caused by the US action.

    Unlisted Huawei, which only started disclosing quarterly results this year, said revenue in the first half rose to 401.3 billion yuan (US$58.28 billion), faster than the 15% growth of a year earlier.

    Shipments of its smartphones jumped 24% to 118 million units, as robust sales in China more than offset a global sales drop.

    According to data from Canalys, Huawei expanded its lead in China's smartphone market in the second quarter by more than 10 percentage points to nearly 40% of the market, while overseas smartphones sales had a slight drop year-on-year. – Nampa/Reuters

    BP profit again outstrips forecasts

    A strong rise in oil and gas production helped BP offset weaker crude prices and refining profit to again beat profit expectations on Tuesday, boosting its shares.

    BP's second quarter contrasts with Total and Norway's Equinor, which posted sharp earnings drops, and builds on a steady recovery after deep cost cuts since the 2014 downturn, project start-ups and last year's US$10.5 billion purchase of BHP's US shale assets.

    Although BP's dividend remained unchanged at 10.25 US cents per share, its chief financial officer Brian Gilvary said the company would consider raising it towards the end of the year as proceeds from asset sales come through and debt is reduced.

    BP's results beat expectations for 10 quarters in a row, analysts at Bernstein said.

    The second-quarter profit was up from US$2.4 billion in the previous quarter, while BP's operating cash flow recovered to US$6.8 billion in the quarter from US$5.3 billion in the previous quarter as a result of a one-off working capital release. – Nampa/Reuters

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  • 07/31/19--16:00: Journalism awards revived
  • Journalism awards revivedJournalism awards revived The Editors' Forum of Namibia (EFN) this week launched its Journalism Awards to celebrate and promote professional excellence in the Namibian media.

    The last media awards ceremony took place eight years ago.

    EFN chairperson Joseph Ailonga said the media had received mixed reviews from the public in recent years.

    “If the recent media Afrobarometer is anything to go by, we can surely say that we need to enhance ethics in a world of fake news,” he said at the launch.

    The EFN has long striven to ensure that Namibian journalists adhere to the rules of the trade, underlining that ethical media are now required more than ever in a world of “alternative truths”.

    It is against this background that the EFN decided to award journalism excellence through the EFN Journalism Awards and a fundraising gala dinner scheduled for September.

    The awards will feature ten categories, including journalist of the year, investigative journalism, health, education, agriculture, environment and business and innovation journalism.

    With a nod towards new media, the awards will also celebrate videography and podcast entries.

    Each category will have only one winning entry which will receive a cash prize of N$10 000 and a certificate. The journalist of the year will receive a N$20 000 cash prize.

    The EFN journalism awards are aimed at promoting professional excellence in the print, electronic and new media.

    Entries close on 28 August, and the winners will be announced on 18 September.

    The EFN invited the renowned Saudi Arabian journalist and filmmaker Safa Al Ahmad as the gala evening's guest speaker. Al Ahmad is based in the United Kingdom and worked closely with Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Saudi Arabian investigative journalist.

    Al Ahmad was the winner of the 2015 International Press Freedom Award and will share the story of how her colleague and friend Khashoggi paid the ultimate price for truth-seeking in October 2018.

    She will also speak about Khashoggi's perpetual quest to report events about his homeland, regardless of the consequences. She herself is living in exile for the documentaries she produced on the uprisings in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

    The panel of adjudicators for the 2019 awards will consist of three Namibians, one South African and one Zimbabwean. They will be named in due course.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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  • 07/31/19--16:00: Six claims against farmer
  • Six claims against farmerSix claims against farmerAgribank demands 2013 debt A farmer who took out six loans on a single day from Agribank, has seemingly not honoured them. Agribank is suing a farmer from Farm 732 in the Omaheke Region for a total of N$4 227 010.71, in six separate claims.

    The matter against Kavezembi Katjomuise involves six different loans. The matters were yesterday before Judge Marlene Tommasi in the Windhoek High Court for case management.

    According to the latest documents filed, dated 30 July, Kadhila Amoomo gave notice to the court that he was withdrawing as counsel for Katjomuise, who has indicated his intention to defend.

    In separate particulars of claim documents filed in March this year, Agribank says all the loans were taken on 9 August 2013, with varying repayment periods of between three and 10 years, and varying rates of interest.

    On a loan of N$920 000, repayable over 10 years, Agribank is claiming just over N$1.4 million, saying that Katjomuise had not made a single payment. A sum of N$720 000 was also taken with a 15-year repayment period. Here, Agribank demands just over N$1.1 million, again adding that instalments were not made.

    The third claim of N$496 000 was repayable over five years. The bank is claiming N$761 640, again saying that no payments were made to settle the amount.

    A 10-year loan of N$175 000 was also not repaid and Agribank demands payment of N$285 279, and on another 10-year loan of N$240 000, the bank demands payment of N$389 840.

    For the final loan of N$279 000, the bank asked the court, as it did in all its claims, for an order of execution of Farm 732, measuring just over 3 200 hectares, which was ceded to the bank for each loan taken. For the first five claims, there are varying rates of interest that the bank asked the court to grant from the date of judgment. The bank also asked for costs.

    Katjomuise, besides having filed a notice of intention to defend, is yet to file documents in replication of the bank's demands.

    During June, the court had set out a schedule for the parties and Katjomuise was instructed to file his plea and counterclaim by 19 June. Agribank was instructed to file its replication by 10 July and Katjomuise again on 24 July. The matter was postponed to yesterday. The only documents currently on record is the withdrawal of Katjomuise's counsel on 30 July.

    Taimi Iileka of Sisa Namandje and Co. appears on behalf of Agribank.



    YANNA SMITH

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    Blockchain launches cryptocurrency exchangeBlockchain launches cryptocurrency exchange Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss - Blockchain, one of the world's largest digital currency wallet companies, announced on Tuesday the launch of a cryptocurrency exchange called The PIT that aims to execute trades in microseconds for retail and institutional investors.

    After extensive research and development over the span of a year, Blockchain said its "Mercury" matching engine delivers speeds a quantum faster than any other crypto exchange.

    A stealth team inside the company composed of veterans from the New York Stock Exchange, TD Ameritrade, Google, Goldman Sachs, UBS, Interactive Brokers and Revolut built The PIT with the goal of executing trades at high speeds, Blockchain said in a statement.

    "What happens at these exchanges when there's a volatility spike, the matching engines get overwhelmed and they just shut down and people can't even trade," Nicole Sherrod, head of trading products at Blockhain told Reuters in a phone interview.

    "Our clients can do trades in microseconds in a category where other exchanges are doing them in milliseconds," she added.

    Back in spotlight

    Crytocurrencies are back in the spotlight in the midst of a steep price rally and high volatility this year, led by bitcoin, which has soared nearly 160% so far in 2019. After hitting an 18-month high just shy of US$14 000 in late June, bitcoin has dropped nearly 30% and last traded at U$$9 528.

    On Tuesday, Sherrod said customers will be able to open accounts at The PIT, with the exchange initially launching the trading of the bitcoin/US dollar pair on 6 August.

    The exchange is available to users in more than 200 countries, and will begin with 26 trading pairs and a global banking network to facilitate deposits, withdrawals, and fiat-to-crypto trading in US dollar, euro, and sterling. Initial assets include bitcoin, ether, litecoin, tether, and PAX tokens.

    Tom Haller, previously the chief software architect for trading systems at the New York Stock Exchange, led the development of the exchange's matching engine, Blockchain said.

    "The current crypto exchange market is outdated, broken, and skewed against users. We got tired of waiting for a new entrant to deliver the performance today's traders demand," said Peter Smith, Blockchain co-founder and chief executive officer, in a statement.

    Launched in 2011 as a cryptocurrency wallet and headquartered in London, Blockchain has raised US$70 million from investors including Google Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Virgin, Lakestar, and the Digital Currency Group. – Nampa/Reuters

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    Shoprite shares surge on improved half-year salesShoprite shares surge on improved half-year salesRest of Africa to log annual trading loss The retailer blames its earnings warning on, among others, currency devaluation in markets such as Angola. Trading conditions in the rest of Africa remain relentless as the results attest. - Pieter Engelbrecht, Chief executive: Shoprite Nqobile Dludla - Shares in Shoprite Holdings surged 15% on Tuesday after Africa's largest supermarket chain forecast an improved second half on solid sales in its South African home market though it warned annual earnings were set to drop as much as 20%.

    The supermarket and furniture retailer is recovering from a poor first half when sales were hit by a strike at its largest distribution centre in South Africa and installation of a new warehousing system which disrupted supply chains.

    Elevated household debts, higher fuel and electricity prices and an increase in value-added tax also squeezed consumer income at home, while sharp currency devaluations elsewhere in Africa weighed on profit.

    Sales in the six months to June 2019 rose 6.5%, driven by the South African supermarkets, which saw revenue grow by 7.4% in the second half and 9.4% in the final quarter, the Cape Town-based group said in a statement.

    "The market share gain in the most recent quarter is testament to our core South African business being back to full operational strength," chief executive Pieter Engelbrecht said.

    Shares in Shoprite jumped 15% in early trade before paring gains to trade 7.35% firmer at R156.30 at 1026 GMT.

    ‘Really good news’

    "The really good news is the second-half of the year was significantly better and the best bit of information there was South Africa supermarkets which showed really nice turnover growth," FNB Wealth and Investments portfolio manager Wayne McCurrie said.

    Annual sales in Supermarkets South Africa are seen rising 4.9% on better customer and volume growth, as well as an improvement in "on-shelf availability and promotional effectiveness", the company said.

    Shoprite, with more than 2 800 stores in 15 countries, said it expected basic headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the 52-weeks ended June to be between 774.2 cents and 832.5 cents per share, a drop of 14.3% to 20.3%, compared with the restated figure of 971.4 cents during the same period a year ago.

    "The rout of the first half was so deep that for the full-year their earnings are still going to be down, but the market is looking ahead to the momentum that was seen in the last quarter of their year," Sasfin Wealth Equity analyst Alec Abraham said.

    Rest of Africa

    The retailer blamed the earnings warning on currency devaluation in markets such as Angola - its biggest operation outside South Africa - a trading loss outside its home market, higher minimum wages and rent and electricity costs at home.

    As a result of the currency depreciation in Angola and other large countries such as Zamiba and Nigera, sales for the rest of its Africa operations declined 7.7% in the full-year and posted a trading loss for the period.

    "Trading conditions in the rest of Africa remain relentless as the results attest," Engelbrecht said. – Nampa/Reuters

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    Alan not aware of Windhoek lossAlan not aware of Windhoek loss The Association for Local Authorities (Alan) says its 57 members will be provided with an audited financial report at its annual general meeting this October and that the voluntary body is unaware of Windhoek's decision to resign.

    In a response provided to Namibian Sun yesterday morning, Alan president Katrina Shimbulu said the association had not yet “received a communication in writing from the City of Windhoek on the decision taken at council regarding Alan”.

    She said the association was not aware of the decision at all.

    Her comments came in the wake of Namibian Sun reporting that the Windhoek municipality, one of Alan's highest-paying members, had resolved to resign from the association instead of renewing its annual N$150 000 membership fee.

    The resolution, taken behind closed doors at its monthly council meeting last week, stated the municipality would “resign from Alan until they put their house in order and provide the necessary financial reports as requested, upon which council will re-join.”

    The council documents, seen by Namibian Sun, underlined the municipality had “on several occasions” requested Alan to provide its activity and financial reports but that the “association has failed to submit any reports for the past years”.

    “It is important and critical when it comes to financial matters that as Alan we have with no doubt presented audited financial statements to the members during the annual general meetings,” Shimbulu told Namibian Sun. She added that the last AGM took place at Walvis Bay in October last year. She further said Alan had, “as per our statutory compliance … been submitting financial audited reports and we will continue to do so in light of good governance.”

    She said the next report was due to be submitted to members at the next annual meeting in October. Shimbulu also informed Namibian Sun that she wanted to put it on record that “since the last elective congress Alan has provided audited financial report (sic) to be precise on five to eight July 2016.”

    She said that report was submitted to the Alan congress and approved. She invited the media to visit the Alan offices to inspect the report.



    Paid membership

    She confirmed the association currently has 57 local authority members and that the annual membership fees vary. She said the last Alan congress passed a resolution that some fees range between N$100 000 and N$150 000 for an annual membership, the category in which the City of Windhoek falls.

    The second fee category is N$50 000, while town councils pay N$30 000 and village councils are invoiced N$10 000 per year.

    “It is important to note that membership fees are not approved by Alan board or the Alan executive committee. It is a congress resolution that all local authorities have to pay membership fees to Alan,” she said.

    In a February 2019 letter addressed to Windhoek mayor Muesee Kazapua, Shimbulu had said Alan would provide the requested reports once available.

    By late July the reports were still pending, as per council documents.

    Shimbulu said the voluntary association, which is not an official government institution, provides a number of services to members.

    She said Alan acts as a liaison between central government and all local authorities on a number of issues, helps promote and market its members.

    Jana@namibiansun.com

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Burden lifted at Rundu schoolBurden lifted at Rundu school Ndama Combined School, which is faced with serious overcrowding, this week received a donation of chairs and desks, which will reduce the number of learners attending lessons while seated on the floor.

    MJ Tanko Investment donated 60 chairs and 31 desks to the school, as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.

    In March, Namibian Sun exposed the serious challenges the school is faced with, such as having 114 learners in one class, and many pupils sitting on the bare floor, because of a lack of furniture.

    The school this year enrolled 2 247 learners and has a teaching staff of 49.

    MJ Tanko Investment managing director Mechitilde Mupiri said they learnt about the challenges at the school, and together with her team, they felt it was appropriate to donate the furniture.

    “It is sad to sit inside the office knowing that there are over 2 000 learners at a school, who do not have a proper chair or school desk to work on.

    “That is why together, with my team, we decided to make this donation,” Mupiri said.

    The products came from South Africa and are valued at about N$145 000.

    School principal Fillipine Munkanda welcomed the donation, saying it will relieve the school's burden, as far as learners sitting on bricks and on the floor is concerned.

    “We are happy for the donation and at least some children will not sit on bricks and on the floor,” Munkanda said.

    Kavango East education director Fanuel Kapapero thanked MJ Tanko Investment.

    Kapapero used the opportunity to call on well-established regional businesses to also plough back into the community.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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    NEEEF is on its way - GeingobNEEEF is on its way - GeingobTo be tabled before year-end In an attempt to provide investors with policy certainty, President Hage Geingob told an economic summit that the contentious NEEEF Bill will be tabled before the end of the year. The much-anticipated New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) Bill is expected to be tabled before the end of the year, President Hage Geingob told investors who are attending the Namibia Economic Growth Summit, currently under way in Windhoek.

    In an attempt to provide investors with policy certainty, he told the gathering yesterday: “We have understood concerns raised by the private sector on NEEEF, in particular on the ownership pillar.

    “We also are aware that finalising the bill will provide policy certainty, which in turn should reduce capital outflow and unlock domestic and foreign direct investments.”

    The framework had initially contained an ownership pillar that would have forced businesses to cede a 25% equity stake to previously disadvantaged Namibians.

    This pillar had been met with stern opposition, and was removed. Geingob said the other pillars of the framework would remain intact.

    “The compulsory 25% equity stake has been removed. However, all other pillars will remain and be taken into account for enterprises doing business with government and applying for natural resource licensing,” he said.

    The tabling of the NEEEF Bill was not a means to take ownership away from advantaged Namibians, he explained. “As we forge ahead towards a new economic identity that is reflective of a more equitable post-independence Namibia, I should make it categorically clear that it is not our intent to take away from those who have, but rather to grow the Namibian economy so that more Namibians can own and manage productive economic assets,” Geingob said.

    He also announced plans to make entry into Namibia easier for businesses and tourists, with the planned introduction of an electronic visa at Namibia's ports of entry.

    “Pertaining to the tourist, business and resident visa regulations, government has introduced some of the following measures to simplify entry requirements; including, but not limited to, the introduction of an e-visa or visa at entry point, at a nominal fee,” he said.

    Provision would also be made for easy access into Namibia for highly skilled professionals, he said, while a multiple entry visas for businesspersons was being considered for a five-year period.

    The investment summit will end later today. Geingob appointed a high-level panel on the economy that is chaired by former Old Mutual Africa executive Johannes !Gawaxab.

    The panel organised the summit and is expected to raise in excess of N$1 billion over a year, following the conclusion of the summit.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    Chinese demand for Angolan oil reboundsChinese demand for Angolan oil rebounds‘Teapots’ driving sales Angola's medium-to-heavy grades have drawn higher demand in 2019 as US sanctions removed comparable Venezuelan and Iranian varieties. As refiners increase their efforts to look for alternatives to present bunker fuel, Angolan grades will improve. - Ehsan Ul-Haq, Lead oil analyst: Refinitiv. Noah Browning - Angolan oil sales are bouncing back from a dismal summer as Asian refining margins have recovered and demand is rising ahead of a major change in marine fuel standards in 2020, traders say.

    Crude from Africa's second-largest exporter after Nigeria flowed to its top customer China in the lowest volumes in nearly five years in July, Refinitiv Eikon data shows.

    "August is shaping up to be even weaker than June and July, but September has a strong tone," one major seller of Angolan crude told Reuters.

    "We believe the levels in demand we are seeing for September are related in part to the interest in specific grades suitable for refining into IMO-compliant bunker fuels," the seller said, adding that the Cabinda, Kissanje and Hungo grades especially suited to the new fuels were selling fast.

    New rules

    From 1 January, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) rules for marine fuel, also called bunker fuel, will bar ships from using fuels containing more than 0.5% sulphur - compared with 3.5% currently - to reduce air pollution.

    "As refiners increase their efforts to look for alternatives to present bunker fuel, Angolan grades will improve," said Ehsan Ul-Haq, lead analyst for oil research and forecasts at Refinitiv.

    Angola's poor performance this summer came as backwardation in the oil market has made prompter deliveries more expensive and discouraged shipping crude long distance, while China stocked up on similar Iranian crudes ahead of US sanctions and refining margins stayed low.

    Traders said the pace of exports to China for July was roughly in line with June but deteriorated further the next month.

    "We bought even less in August," a major Chinese buyer said.

    Angola's medium-to-heavy grades, which tend to yield larger quantities of middle distillates such as gasoil and jet fuel, have drawn higher demand in 2019 as US sanctions removed comparable Venezuelan and Iranian varieties.

    Differentials rose to all-time highs before beginning a months-long slide in June. Traders say the situation is now steadying as refining margins have improved.

    Independent refiners

    Asian margins have lifted in recent weeks, pushing up demand from Chinese independent refiners - known as "teapots"– for crudes from Russia, Oman, Brazil as well as Angola.

    "Angolan demand is driven by Chinese teapots that started to buy again this month," one trader said. "Teapots basically reduced to stopped buying crude for two months prior. After margins improved, they changed their mode."

    Margins for gasoil, the base for diesel and jet fuel, hit an eight-month high of US$17.09 a barrel on Monday.

    "[Angolan oil's] fate will also depend on distillate prices in the next few months," added Ul-Haq of Refinitiv. "If distillate prices continue to move higher, using Angolan crudes could be a good option."– Nampa/Reuters

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    Trump warns Beijing not to wait on trade dealTrump warns Beijing not to wait on trade deal Washington – US president Donald Trump warned China Tuesday against waiting to complete a trade deal with Washington, just as negotiations began in Shanghai to resurrect stalled talks with Chinese officials.

    "My team is negotiating with them now, but they always change the deal in the end to their benefit," Trump tweeted.

    "China is doing very badly, worst year in 27 - was supposed to start buying our agricultural product now - no signs that they are doing so. That is the problem with China, they just don't come through."

    The negotiations are the first face-to-face talks since Trump agreed to a truce with Chinese president Xi Jinping at June's G20 summit.

    Washington and Beijing have so far hit each other with punitive tariffs covering more than US$360 billion in two-way trade.

    The US economy "has become MUCH larger than the Chinese Economy is last 3 years," Trump boasted.

    Election

    The US president suggested that China "should probably wait out our Election to see if we get one of the Democrat stiffs like Sleepy Joe. Then they could make a GREAT deal, like in past 30 years, and continue ... to ripoff the USA, even bigger and better than ever before."

    The reference is to the 2020 presidential election and former US vice president Joe Biden, the current Democratic Party front runner for the nomination.

    "The problem with them waiting, however, is that if & when I win, the deal that they get will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now... or no deal at all. We have all the cards, our past leaders never got it!" he added.

    Trump later told reporters: "We're either going to make a great deal or we're not going to make a deal at all."

    He also reiterated his belief that China wants to delay a deal until after next year's election.

    They "pray that Trump loses and then they'll make a deal with a stiff," he said. – Nampa/Reuters

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    National interest, not 'brotherly pleas'National interest, not 'brotherly pleas' There is no doubt that China has become an essential development partner to our country. Recent investments in the mining sector have cemented this critical partnership. It is safe to say that the relationship between Namibia and China is closer than never before. It is a rapidly deepening trade, investment and growth relationship, which has also been frowned upon by many, including ordinary Namibians, who feel hard done by.

    There has been a great deal of resentment among locals, who are not comfortable with some of the partnership arrangements with Chinese firms. Many have decried the fact that Chinese companies, contracted to do work in Namibia, are still importing labour on a large scale.

    This is being done at the expense of many Namibians, who are languishing in poverty and sitting idly at home without jobs. Another issue that has been a bone of contention is the stinking attitude of some Chinese companies towards trade unions, amid various violations of workers' rights. However, as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, China has a clear agenda of what exactly it wants to do with mineral-rich Africa.

    One wonders if Namibia has an effective strategy in place as well, given our sluggish economy, which requires all the help it can possibly get.

    Be that as it may, what is important now is not a 'brotherly plea', as suggested by economic planning minister Obeth Kandjoze, but a frank demand for Chinese companies to add the necessary value, including transferring skills to local communities. Every deal must be conducted based on the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

    There must be a clear policy in place to help us protect our own national interest, instead of advancing the political and economic interests of the Chinese.

    And the last thing we want to see is government leaders being apologetic when it comes to putting the interest of the country first. 'Brotherly pleas' must play second fiddle.

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    Teen commits suicide at schoolTeen commits suicide at schoolBody found hanging at netball court A young man hanged himself from the Rundu Secondary School's netball pavilion yesterday. An 18-year-old teenager committed suicide at Rundu yesterday morning. Bertho Johannes Hoflin's body was found hanging from the Rundu Secondary School netball court pavilion - the same spot where a 24-year-old man committed suicide earlier this year.

    Hoflin is from Rundu's Kehemu location. Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Kauna Shikwambi confirmed the incident.

    Shikwambi said the deceased hanged himself with a nylon rope from the netball pavilion, which is situated outside the school premises.

    The victim's next of kin have been informed.

    No suicide note was found at the scene and police investigations continue. On 27 February, 24-year-old Aiyambo Stefanus Nekaro, a resident of Donkerhoek, also committed suicide by hanging himself at the same spot.

    No suicide note was found and no foul play was suspected at the time.

    Surprisingly, both incidents took place on a Wednesday.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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    Senegal to crack down on huge plastic wasteSenegal to crack down on huge plastic wasteEnforcing law with stiff punishment Thirty-four African countries have tried to use laws to curb plastic use since South Africa banned plastic bags in 2003. When you reach major cities, you are greeted by ... visual pollution made of plastic waste as far as the eye can see. - Abdou Karim Sall, Environment minister: Senegal Anna Pujol-Mazzini - Tired of seeing Senegal's seascapes spoiled by ever-growing mounds of cheap plastic bags, authorities plan to crack down on polluters by imposing fines and further restricting plastic use.

    The West African country, whose beaches on the Atlantic attract tourists from all over the world, is one of the world's biggest contributors to ocean plastic despite having a population of just 15 million.

    A study in 2010, reported by the journal Science, put it 21st out of all nations for quantity of waste being dumped in the sea - with 254 770 tonnes, only just behind the United States, a vastly bigger economy with many times more people and coastline.

    Across Senegal, plastic containers are strewn across roads, often with goats and cows feeding on them, while rubbish can be seen floating in the sea.

    Globally, public awareness is growing about the harm being done by plastic, which hurts marine life and instead of biodegrading breaks down into ubiquitous microplastics.

    ‘Full force’

    According to science writer Mike Berners-Lee, of the nine billion tonnes of plastic ever produced, 5.4 billion has been dumped onto land or the sea - enough to shrink wrap the planet in clingfilm.

    In Senegal, a 2015 law banned the most common thin polythene bags, but was never applied. Grocers wrap individual items, even blobs of cheese, butter and coffee in copious plastic.

    "The law is not enforced. When you reach major cities, you are greeted by an unpleasant decor, a ... visual pollution made of plastic waste as far as the eye can see," environment minister Abdou Karim Sall told Reuters.

    "We will go around shops ... we have security forces who can support us. We're going to start enforcing this law in its full force," he said.

    Sall said the government would introduce a new bill in the coming months to ban a wider range of plastic, including thicker shopping bags, following similar moves in Kenya and Rwanda.

    ‘Dumping ground’

    Environmental officers will hold public gatherings to inform people about the negative effects of plastics for health, fishing and farming, Sall said.

    Then police will enforce a law which fines shopkeepers up to 50 000 CFA francs (US$85) for distributing the bags, a lot for a country with a GDP per capita of US$1 500, according to World Bank figures. Those manufacturing thinner bags risk six months in prison or 20 million CFA francs (US$34 000) in fines.

    Thirty-four African countries have tried to use laws to curb plastic use since South Africa banned plastic bags in 2003, according to the UN Environment Programme.

    In 2017, Kenya imposed one of the world's toughest bans on plastic bags, with up to four years in prison or US$40 000 fines for producing, selling or even using them.

    French supermarkets like Carrefour and Auchan also distribute plastic bags in Senegal, but as they are thicker the law doesn't yet affect them.

    Assietou Drame, spokeswoman for Auchan Senegal, said the supermarket aimed to "completely eliminate the sale of plastic bags" and offer paper bags instead. A Carrefour spokesperson said it normally gives textile bags but had temporarily run out.

    Taking the initiative

    A few Senegalese are meanwhile taking the initiative.

    On Dakar's Virage beach, restaurant owner Babacar Thiaw grew frustrated with seeing his employees rake the beach every morning only for the waste to return hours later.

    "Look at the beach, how beautiful it is, but at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., you come back and it looks like a dumping ground because people bring ... their plastic and they throw it anywhere," Thiaw said.

    He decided to go "zero-waste", replacing plastic straws with metal ones, and by 1 August, reuseable glass bottles will replace plastic ones and ground coffee beans will replace capsules.

    "I told myself: I'll start doing something today that can inspire people tomorrow," he said. – Nampa/Reuters

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    ANC: SARB nationalisation won't affect mandateANC: SARB nationalisation won't affect mandate Alistair Smout - The plans of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) to nationalise the central bank will be implemented responsibly and will not affect the institution's mandate or independence, party officials said on Tuesday.

    Unlike most central banks in the world, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is privately owned, but the ANC resolved at party conference in December 2017 to move it into full state ownership.

    Party officials on Tuesday sought to emphasise that they would tread carefully after SARB Governor Lesetja Kganyago said last week that a debate over ownership of the central bank was increasing investor uncertainty and fuelling the risk premium attached to the country's debt.

    "Our position on the nationalisation of the reserve bank has not changed," ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule told reporters. "All the decisions which must be implemented, must be implemented in a responsible way," he added.

    Alongside the pledge to nationalise the SARB, a dispute has erupted within the ANC over whether or not to explicitly expand its mandate.

    According to the constitution, "the primary object of the South African Reserve Bank is to protect the value of the currency in the interest of balanced and sustainable economic growth", and since 2000, the SARB has used an inflation-targeting framework to achieve its monetary policy goals.

    Contradicting messages

    Magashule said a meeting of the ANC's national executive committee at the weekend emphasised the party's policy positions on the central bank's independence and constitutional mandate.

    Those comments struck a contrast to last month, when he said that the party had agreed to explicitly target job creation alongside inflation.

    His June comments were disputed by an official aligned with president Cyril Ramaphosa, and the disagreement unnerved investors in Africa's most advanced economy.

    The SARB has been privately owned since it was established in 1921. But its shareholders, which include South African banks like ABSA and Bidvest as well as private individuals, have no control over monetary policy, financial stability policy or banking regulation.

    The party's deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said the mandate of the SARB would not change as a product of the bank's nationalisation.

    "[The mandate] cannot change because of who the shareholder is, that's not the issue," Duarte said.

    "We stand behind the independence of the Reserve Bank."– Nampa/Reuters

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  • 07/31/19--16:00: Drama over plot
  • Drama over plotDrama over plot The Rundu town council was the scene of heated debates, when the sale of erf 1925, measuring

    2 292 square metres, situated in Extension 7, known as Kehemu, was discussed.

    Councillor Reginald Ndara, representing the Rundu Concerned Citizens Association (RCCA) expressed his utmost disappointment over the transaction, saying that during an era where thousands of people are landless, someone is being allocated a plot measuring over 2 000 square metres.

    Ndara wanted to know who surveyed the area and demarcated a residential plot of that size.

    He argued a plot of that size is ideal for business and not residential purposes.

    “You see, a single residential plot cannot be more than 1 000 square metres. This is 2 292 square metres, and if it was surveyed, by whom? We need to know who decided to demarcate a single residential plot to be this big. It is very rare to find a single residential plot of this size, which is why we need to know who surveyed it. How did it happen?” Ndara questioned.

    Acting Rundu CEO Herman Haingura explained the transaction was in line with a ministerial directive and that there was no problem with allocating a plot measuring over

    2 000 square metres, for residential purposes.

    “Your worship, let me clarify this, we are following the directive of the line ministry, which was issued long back, that in Namibia a residential plot must not be less than 300 square metres, but it does not mean that it cannot be more than

    1 000 or 2 000 square metres,” Haingura said.





    “This one was formalised a long time ago. For an erf to be more than 2 000 square metres, there is nothing wrong with that, but if it was below 300 square meters, then one could say something was wrong, but it was created that way. A lot of plots in that vicinity are of that size.”

    Ndara immediately countered by asking how many plots there are measuring over 2 000 square metres, while reiterating he still wants to know who serviced the area.

    All People's Party (APP) councillor Mathews Wakudumo also expressed concern over the transaction, even though he forms part of the management committee, which is in favour of the sale.

    Wakudumo said it is a hypocrisy for the council to compel people from other parts of the town to surrender their plots for demarcation of up to 300 square metres, yet it was allowing the sale of a 2 000-square metre plot to one person.

    Wakudumo was referencing Kaisosi township, where people had demanded bigger erven, but were limited to plots of 300 square metres.

    He asked why some were given the option of acquiring big plots at Kehemu, but this was not applied at Kaisosi, which had existed before Kehemu was established.

    “When you look at Kaisosi, people were forced to give their land and only have three portions of land - one for the person and two additional ones, which are 300 square metres. Now if we are talking of people having 2 000-square metre plots, how did we approach Kaisosi, where people gave up their land? There is no person in Kaisosi with a plot of that size. Why is this allowed in Kehemu? This is uncalled for,” Kudumo said.

    Management committee chairperson, Swapo councillor Anastacia Foya, then joined the debate.

    She called on members to put their grievances aside and approve the transaction, adding that Haingura should then revert back to the council on the issues raised by the councillors.

    Foya also expressed her disappointment with Wakudumo, who sits on the management committee, saying he was supposed to raise his concerns when they discussed the transaction.

    After more debate the recommendation was passed, as Rundu mayor Isak Kandingu, his deputy Toini Hausiku, Foya and Wakudumo supported it, while Ndara did not.

    Former Rundu mayor Verna Sinimbo and former deputy mayor Ralph Ihemba were not present.

    Ndara also raised his concerns over someone being allocated a piece of land at a price of N$10 per square metre in the same area, while others were paying N$30 to N$45.

    He said people should not discriminated against, based on their income levels, but that prices should be based on the extension in which they reside.

    KENYA KAMBOWE

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  • 07/31/19--16:00: Dogs dig up dumped baby
  • Dogs dig up dumped babyDogs dig up dumped baby Loide Stefanus, 38, appeared before the Okahao Magistrate's Court on Tuesday on a charge of concealment of birth.

    Inspector Linekela Shikongo confirmed to Namibian Sun that she was released on N$800 bail and the matter was postponed to 12 September.





    It is alleged that Stefanus gave birth to a boy in the early hours of Saturday morning. She is said to have wrapped his body in plastic, burying him near the fence of a nearby plot. Nampa reports that the baby may have been buried alive, although this is yet to be confirmed by an autopsy. Charges will be added if the baby was alive.

    Warrant Officer Anna Kunga of the police's public relations unit in Omusati Region told Nampa that dogs had dug up the tiny body which was discovered on Monday morning at around 07:00.

    Stefanus is said to be a domestic worker at Ongongolwa village.

    – Additional reporting by Nampa

    ILENI NANDJATO

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  • 07/31/19--16:00: 'God has spoken'
  • 'God has spoken''God has spoken'Katrina supporters overjoyed with N$50 000 fine “God has spoken,” was the common refrain repeated by supporters of former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa after she was fined N$50 000 for corruption. Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, whom the State had wanted a jail term for, has emerged from the jaws of justice with a N$50 000 fine.

    High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg sentenced the former education minister to a fine or 24 months' imprisonment yesterday in a courtroom filled with her supporters.

    They later danced into the streets to celebrate the sentence.

    Dressed impeccably in her signature white dress and doek, Hanse-Himarwa smiled when the judge announced her sentence.

    Her mother, Aletta Hanse, her husband, Ghenno Himarwa, National Council chairperson Margaret Mensah and other supporters were at her side.

    Her husband entered the courtroom clutching what looked like a white bank bag, while his wife waited with her closest allies to sign some court documents.

    Hanse-Himarwa's successor as Hardap governor, Esme Isaak, was close to tears outside the court building, as she thanked the Lord for the “fair sentence”.

    It was Hanse-Himarwa's tenure as Hardap governor that led to the corruption case.

    Just over three weeks ago, on 8 July, Judge Liebenberg had convicted the 52-year-old politician of corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification.

    This was in relation to her time as governor, when she instructed that two beneficiaries of a Mass Housing project at Mariental be replaced by two of her relatives.

    “Those who make so many comments and even instruct the court to imprison her, they have failed,” Isaak said.

    “God has spoken,” her supporters chanted.





    Clutching an embroidered shawl around her shoulders, another supporter, Petrina Tiboth, said she was thankful that God had closed this chapter for Hanse-Himarwa.

    “I am so happy. Our daughter and the rest of our families were under a lot of stress. But we remained on our knees, asking God for a fair punishment.”

    Former gender affairs minister Marlene Mungunda also thanked God.

    In his verdict, Judge Liebenberg said Hanse-Himarwa's case was different from those in which large amounts of money were stolen.

    “Although corruption is a serious offence, the nature of the offence committed in this instance is clearly distinguishable from other instances where the accused benefited from embezzling large sums of money for personal gain.

    “Though the court will follow the same approach, an appropriate sentence shall be determined by the nature and circumstances in which the offence was committed,” Judge Liebenberg said.

    He also cited the matter of policeman Samuel Likando, who was convicted of soliciting and taking a N$500 bribe at a roadblock east of Windhoek.

    “It is distinguishable from the present case for two reasons: Firstly, the matter came on appeal, and as far as it concerns the powers of a court of appeal to interfere with the sentencing discretion of the trial court, it is settled law that those powers are limited.

    “This the court acknowledged in its judgment when stating at paragraph 31 that while the sentence of four years' imprisonment, of which half was suspended, was rather on the harsh side, it was not found to be startlingly inappropriate, or induces a sense of shock,” he said.

    The judge added that there was no basis in law for the court to interfere with that sentence.

    “As pointed out to counsel during arguments, the approach to sentencing by a court of appeal is different from that of the trial court. Secondly, as stated in the judgment, it involved a police officer on duty at a roadblock, who extorted cash money in the amount of N$500 from a member of the public by threatening to place him under arrest and lock him up unless he paid over the money.

    “Dealing with similar cases, the court remarked that these cases clearly showed that corruption committed by police officers is treated as serious by the courts, and that the norm was not to impose fines, but imprisonment. It is for that reason that the court, on appeal, said: 'It would be wrong for this court to ignore the guidelines on sentences and the general thread apparent from sentences in cases decided in recent years, in regard to a particular offence'.”



    'Remove her'

    Popular Democratic Movement Youth League (PDMYL) secretary-general Bensen Katjirijova said the trial had “demonstrated to us that no one is above the law, but more importantly, the impartiality of our judiciary”.

    He said the PDMYL believed that the sentence “reflected the best possible outcome that the State could get, in light of all the aggravating and mitigating factors that were presented”.

    “However, we are of the view the National Assembly cannot continue to accommodate convicted criminals from the Swapo Party. It seems like the National Assembly is now the dumping ground for disgraced Swapo politicians to come spend the last days of their controversial political careers.

    “We therefore call on the Swapo Party to do the honourable thing and remove all convicts from the National Assembly. Members of the National Assembly must demonstrate the highest ethos and values. Having people like Katrina Hanse-Himarwa in the National Assembly does not serve the decorum of the National Assembly well,” Katjirijova added.

    Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa declined to comment yesterday.

    In terms of Article 47 of the Namibian Constitution, an MP can only be disqualified from serving in parliament if he or she is sentenced to imprisonment of more than 12 months without the option of a fine.

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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    South African unemployment hits 11-year highSouth African unemployment hits 11-year high Highest since global financial crisis There were 6.7 million people without jobs in South Africa in the three months to the end of June. The labour force is currently growing by around 101 000 people per quarter, where as the economy is creating on average 53 000 jobs per quarter. – Innocent Dutiro, Chief executive: Adcorp Mfuneko Toyana - South Africa’s unemployment rate jumped to its highest since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, data showed on Tuesday, piling pressure on a shrinking economy and president Cyril Ramaphosa’s pledge to deliver a turnaround.

    The increase in joblessness was preceded by a sharp rise in jobless claims from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) between 2018 and 2019. Claims rose 21% to R9.2 billion, the labour department said.

    "The increased payment in the unemployment benefit could be attributed to retrenchments that have plagued the country due to subdued economic growth," the department of unemployment and labour said.

    In February, national treasury said unemployment payments would increase to nearly R16 billion by 2021, and while that would be matched by growth in the fund's assets, it would be offset by liabilities of other social security funds like the Road Accident Fund, which is R242 billion in the red.

    Retrenchment

    Job cuts across a host of sectors are set continue into the next few years. On Tuesday, state power firm Eskom reported a more than R20 billion annual loss, making mooted staff cuts in the region of 7 000 almost inevitable.

    At a 2018 job summit that formed the centrepiece of his recovery pledge, Ramaphosa promised to create 100 000 new jobs, but analysts doubt he can achieve the target.

    Second quarter unemployment rose to 29% from 27.6% in the first quarter, driven by job cuts in private households, transport and mining, data from Statistics South Africa showed.

    It was the highest jobless rate since 2008 when the quarterly survey started, statistician general Risenga Maluleke said, adding it would be difficult to create jobs in a shrinking economy.

    There were 6.7 million people without jobs in the three months to the end of June, compared with 6.2 million people in the prior quarter, Statistics South Africa said its quarterly labour force survey.

    "The labour force is currently growing by around 101 000 people per quarter, where as the economy is creating on average 53 000 jobs per quarter," chief executive of Adcorp Innocent Dutiro said. "This means the economy is generally absorbing only one in two potential workers."

    Investors spooked

    Last week two ratings firms warned of the impact on an already dire economic growth outlook of the R59 billion bailout for state power firm Eskom, sending the rand tumbling and raising the price of debt.

    That added to pressure coming from Ramaphosa’s political battles with factions inside the ruling African National Congress (ANC), further dimming growth prospects in the continent’s most industrialised economy.

    The unemployment data also showed about 8.2 million, or 40.3%, out of 20.4 million people aged 15-34 years, were not in employment, education or training, underlining the social and political dangers posed by the high jobless rate.

    Labour unions which supported Ramaphosa's campaign have threatened to embark on strikes over retrenchments.

    "The national treasury and SARB’s superstitious fixation with narrow bands of inflation-targeting and budget-deficit are at the expense of industrial expansion and job creation," said spokesman of trade union federation Cosatu Sizwe Pamla.

    "The current environment is not helping where you have government pouring billions into bailing out state firms. And when companies see the political infighting that’s going on it’s not encouraging," said Wayne McCurrie of First National Bank.

    "What companies and investors respond to is demand in the economy and unfortunately there is none of that, and consumers aren't spending because many don't have jobs, so it's hard to see where a recovery will come from," McCurrie said. – Nampa/Reuters

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  • 08/05/19--16:00: Maltas Club reaches out
  • Maltas Club reaches outMaltas Club reaches out Ester Kamati

    In conjunction with First National Bank (FNB) Namibia, the University Centre for Studies in Namibia (Tucsin) and Dinapama Manufacturing and Supplies, the Maltas Club embarked on a trip to Tsumkwe Secondary School from 25 until 28 July.

    They offered not only academic support to the learners, but also social and emotional support, focus groups and one-on-one sessions. The Maltas Club has since 2013 established a relationship with pupils from Tsumkwe, specifically those in grades 10 and 12, through preparing them for their final examinations. Evidently, this relationship is growing.

    Over 100 learners were tutored in various subjects including mathematics, geography, English and entrepreneurship by Maltas Club members and students from the University of Namibia (Unam) and the International University of Management (IUM) during the four days.

    School principal Ben Kaumbungu expressed his gratitude to the Maltas Club for their efforts in reaching out and assisting the learners.

    According to Maltas Club founder, Dr Wilfred April, most of the current grade 12 learners were coached when they were in grade 10 two years ago and have showed significant improvement since then.

    The club undertook the initiative with three goals in mind: To reassure the learners that they can achieve even their wildest dreams, to ensure that they are confident enough with the curriculum to make a success of the examinations, and lastly, to instil self-confidence in them to enter the world of work and university and plough back into their community. Additionally, they intend to work with the learners for at least four weeks in 2020, to ensure that their grades are improved and maintained.

    With the aim of the learners becoming changemakers, the Maltas Club facilitated a conversation in which the pupils were encouraged to speak about the changes that they would like to see at their school and in the Tsumkwe community as a whole.

    Karu Njarakana, a member of the Maltas Club was impressed with the culture and way of living of the San, and even traded his Maltas gear for San leather at the end of an excursion that was undertaken by the team in the hope of gaining a better understanding of the community.

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  • 08/05/19--16:00: Top-rated money app launched
  • Top-rated money app launchedTop-rated money app launched Nedbank took the next step in its digital banking evolution by launching its top-rated Money App technology in Namibia.

    According to the bank, the new Nedbank Money App Africa (Money App) is not merely an upgrade on its existing mobile banking technology, but a fundamental rethinking of its mobile banking platform centred on customer needs.

    “Introducing the new Nedbank Money App is another step towards fully digitising the banking experience for customers. Not only does our new app provide best-in-class user experience in terms of mobile banking, it is also the first banking app in Namibia that allows clients to freeze and unfreeze their bankcards straight from the app. This provides significant convenience and improved security for customers,” says Richard Meeks, executive of retail and business banking at Nedbank Namibia.

    Clients can also activate their cards for international travel, cancel and re-order cards using the new Nedbank Money App.

    The new app will replace the current version, which existing clients can continue using until September of this year.

    Data

    The Money App does not deplete clients’ mobile data – meaning they can use the banking app even when they have no data left for internet use. Moreover, customers will benefit from an improved banking experience and enhanced interface, better security with fingerprint login functionality, and the ability to link and delink bank accounts from an online banking profile.

    Some of the features customers can look forward to include showing or hiding accounts, a dashboard view, setting up recurring payments and ATM limits, loan repayment calculators, as well as an ATM and branch locator.

    “In many aspects Nedbank Namibia is a pioneer. We were first with online applications, enabling a cross-bank payment platform called PayToday through local partners, as well as offering an alternative to ATMs with the cash-out solution at cashiers of major retail grocery stores,” says Meeks.

    Nedbank will soon launch a new simplified bank account – another first for Namibia.

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