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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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    Journalist threatened with legal actionJournalist threatened with legal action OTIS FINCK

    Walvis Bay businessman Johnny Doeseb has threatened to take legal action against investigative journalist John Grobler following comments he made on social media regarding the ongoing multimillion-dollar fraud and money-laundering case before the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court.

    Grobler ruffled feathers on Wednesday when he requested clarity on Facebook from anybody in Walvis Bay on whether Doeseb had been questioned in connection with an alleged N$3.5 billion tax-fraud scheme involving Chinese nationals and a customs official.

    Grobler wrote that phone calls made to the police and prosecutors in order to verify a rumour in this regard went unanswered. He wrote that the rumour had been heard from two separate sources.

    Doeseb immediately took on Grobler on his Facebook page.

    “I was never involved in any criminal acts since I started doing business 17 years ago and don’t dream of joining that trade. I made my millions fairly and legitimately. Your post lacks substance and is totally defamatory. I will never become a criminal like that apartheid brothers of yours [sic],” he said.

    Doeseb said Grobler never contacted him for comment on the allegation and he would “take him to the cleaners”.

    He said he had instructed lawyer Sylsken Makando to take legal action against Grobler.

    Doeseb is the chairperson of the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Walvis Bay and also the Namibia Premier League.

    Apology

    Grobler apologised to Doeseb in a second Facebook post, but Doeseb refused to accept it, stating that his legal representative had advised him not to comment.

    “I apologise for casting any aspersion on your probity, but with the tax scams in Walvis Bay proliferating faster than cockroaches in a dumpster it is hard to tell who is still clean in that town and who is not,” Grobler wrote.

    “It’s the company that you keep that leads to certain confusion, you know. I am sorry. I just needed to know if there was any truth in the rumour. It’s a pity you had to stoop to such ugly racism though. Insulting my parents, who both happen to have detested HF Verwoerd, is such a cheap shot.”

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    Analysts favour Senegal at AfconAnalysts favour Senegal at Afcon Ghana tipped to be strong Various football experts in the country have tipped Senegal as the hot favourite for the 2017 African Cup of Nations, which is scheduled to start this week in Gabon.

    The 31st edition of the African Cup of Nations will see 16 teams challenging each other for Africa's greatest football trophy.

    Gabon will open the competition on Saturday with a game against Guinea-Bissau, while 2015 Ivory Coast begin their assignment against Togo.

    Most of the teams in the competition are equipped with European-based players who ply their trade at top clubs.

    There will be a strange feeling to the competition, given the absence of one of Africa's greatest football nations Nigeria, who failed to make it to the tournament.

    When asked about their favourite teams in the competition, football analysts said that the Senegalese side looks like a force to be reckoned with this time around.

    Tura Magic executive member Isack Hamata said: “My views on AFCON 2017 are that Cameroon would have been my obvious choice to win the Afcon 2017, but the withdrawal of eight key European-based players from the squad has seriously limited their chances of making any impact at the competition.

    “Senegal, even without Liverpool's Sadio Mane is firm favourite to at least reach the finals, but the two finalists of 2015, Ghana and the eventual winners Ivory Coast will not simply roll over and die.

    “Ghana has retained the majority of their players from the previous Afcon and Ivory Coast who are boosted by the inclusion of Wilfred Saha, will be out to show Africa that their victory two years ago, was no fluke.

    “The north African giants, Tunisia and Morocco have not had a serious impact on continental football in the past four years. This is their chance to stake their claim for African dominance.”

    Hamata also said that he was worried that many of the players who play in Europe will bring tired legs to the tournament.

    He feels that some of the players just go through the motions and do not bring out their best football, which they reserve for their European clubs.

    “We recall that CAF decided in 2010 to move the Afcon tournament from even to odd years. That has helped African teams' performance in the World Cup competitions, but it has helped little in terms of getting fresh legs in the Afcon tournament.

    “Many European-based players will be participating in Afcon with an eye on their respective leagues, and also avoiding injury while representing their countries.

    “What we can expect to get is half-hearted performances as we have seen in the past from some of the so-called great African players.

    “We have also seen how some players are very happy for their countries to lose early in the competition, which allows them to go back to their European league clubs. That does little for the development of football or to generate excitement at the Afcon tournament.

    “It is difficult to find a solution to this since CAF has no say over how the European leagues must be run and whether they should suspend programmes while their African players are playing in Afcon.

    “The players should just show extra commitment to their continent and play as hard and well as we know they are able to,” Hamata said.

    FNB Orlando Pirates coach Woody Jacobs also shared the same views as Hamata, stating that the 'Lions of Teranga' have a very good chance of winning the competition given the depth in their squad.

    Jacobs also feels that the North African sides which include Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria will not be a walk in the park for the West African nations.

    “I think there is plenty of talent on display at this year's competition, which gives the tournament an exciting prospect.

    “My money at the moment will be on Senegal, because I watched them play against Namibia and they showed great strength,” Jacobs said.

    Retired award winning sports journalist Hector Mawonga however disagrees with the two analysts, suggesting that Ghana looks good.

    “It is sad that we only have one Southern African team playing in the competition given that the likes of Zambia, South Africa and Namibia all failed to qualify.

    “I do believe that Ghana is the hot favourites given the amount of depth and talent which is in their squad. Senegal is almost a one-man team, because if Mane is not playing well, they fail to come up with a plan B.

    “I do expect them to progress far in the tournament and I do think they have enough to win it, because we also have Algeria and Egypt who have always done well throughout the competition's history,” Mawonga reiterated.

    Jesse Jackson Kauraisa.

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    Oshimbaba wins Hotline football tourneyOshimbaba wins Hotline football tourney The Oshimbaba Football Club (FC) were crowned champions of the annual Hotline Football Club tournament after beating Baloyi FC 3-0 in the final last Saturday.

    They took home N$3 000, a floating trophy and gold medals.

    The tournament took place from 28 to 31 December 2016 and while initially slated to end on 30 December, had to be extended by a day due to the overwhelming number of entries received.

    Baloyi FC, as the runners-up, received N$2500 and silver medals.

    The third prize of N$1500 and bronze medals went to Omadenga FC, while Oluno Correctional Services FC took home N$1000 after coming in fourth. In the semi-final encounters, Oshimbaba humiliated Omadenga with a 5-0 defeat, while Baloyi defeated Oluno Correctional Services 5-4 on penalties following their 0-all draw during normal time.

    Omadenga beat Oluno Correctional Services 1-0 in the third and fourth position play-off.

    Ongenga Constituency-based Hotline Football Club (FC) organised the tournament, in which 18 teams from Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshana Region took part.

    Hotline FC was established in 1996 by Nangolo Kondja, who received a trophy at the end of the tournament in recognition of keeping the club alive for the past 20 years.

    Kondja said he was happy to receive this trophy and that it was an unexpected honour.

    “This is a sign of the commitment that you the organisers have observed in me and I will not cease to assist you in whatever the need might be, I am very delighted,” he said.

    He advised youngsters to follow in the footsteps of former players of the Hotline club that played in the Ohangwena Regional Second Division League.

    The tournament had several sponsors including Bonifatius Haufiku of 777 Investment CC and Kaudevali Joseph of Kaude Salon and Barbershop.

    Former players of Hotline FC were the tournament's main sponsors, having sponsored cash of N$8 000.

    NAMPA

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    Namibia brings junior chess medals homeNamibia brings junior chess medals home The Namibia junior chess team brought back three medals from Lusaka, Zambia after participating in the 2016 African Schools Individual Chess Championships from 10 to 18 December 2016.

    A media statement from the Namibian Chess Federation (NCF) made available to Nampa on Thursday said the championships were attended by hundreds of African junior chess players, whose aim was to be the best in their different age categories and bestowed with a Fide title of the World Chess Federation.

    Namibia sent 11 representatives.

    Ottilie Hinda, 6, won a silver medal and became Namibia's youngest female player to attain a Women's Candidate Master (WCM) title.

    This is the lowest available ranking.

    Jamie-Nicole Beukes also won a silver medal in the under-9 category and similarly attained a WCM title.

    Dante Beukes proved why he is highly rated in his age group by winning a gold medal and improving his rating from Male Candidate Master to Fide Master.

    Players can only attain the Fide Master ranking after winning six of the nine tournaments they participate in over a calendar year.

    By so doing, Beukes is the youngest and second Namibian chess player to attain this title. He is the only Namibian player to change chess titles since Leonard Müller did so during the Zonal Championships in Botswana in 1995.

    Kevin Gurirab and Aldo Horn lost out on medals by finishing just outside the top three positions.

    The other representatives were Lure Horn, Caro Horn, Patience Tsuses, Anthony van der Meer, Meundju Katjariua and Phillip Mootseng.

    Junior chess in Namibia is on an upward trend despite lack of funds and is becoming a force to be reckoned with amongst school sports, said the statement.

    The NCF is making efforts to get the public as well as private stakeholders on board to participate in the sponsorship of chess in Namibia to have participants attend and host regional and international tournaments.

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    Maradona defends Tevez's big money move to ChinaMaradona defends Tevez's big money move to China Argentinean football legend, Diego Maradona, on Saturday defended Carlos Tevez, who recently took a big money transfer to China's Shanghai Shenhua from Boca Juniors.

    According to Maradona, Tevez “did what he had to do” by going to China and “did not defraud anybody.”

    Carlos Tevez was transferred to Shanghai Shenhua in December where he will earn around 40 million US dollars a year, despite pleas from his fellow players and fans of Boca Juniors for him to stay. Boca Juniors made 11 million dollars from the transfer.

    “The fans of Boca should thank him for coming back (in July 2015 from Juventus), but it is time that a money goes to a player, and not a manager or businessman,” said Maradona in an interview with sports newspaper, Ole.

    Maradona also criticized another Boca Juniors legend, Juan Roman Riquelme, who recently stated he would not have gone to China.

    “If China had offered £50 million dollars to Riquelme, he would be speaking Chinese today. Carlitos (Tevez) did not defraud or scam anybody. He simply offered an amazing offer and he has nothing to feel bad about,” added the Mexico 1986 World Cup champion. “Riquelme and Maradona would have done the same.”

    Tevez, 32, will now be the highest paid player in the world.

    Maradona admitted that Boca Juniors would suffer as “Tevez is irreplaceable.”

    “There is no player to be bought to replace him. Many are spoken of but nobody is in his class,” concluded the legend.

    NAMPA/XINHUA

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    BPI cedes control of Angola's top bankBPI cedes control of Angola's top bank Portugal's BPI bank last week ceded control of Angola's top lender to a telecoms company run by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the country's president and dubbed Africa's richest woman.

    After months of pressure from the European Central Bank to give up its majority stake in line with a tightening of rules, BPI sold 2% of the Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA) to Angola's largest phone operator Unitel to bring its stake down to 48.1%.

    Unitel - run by the daughter of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos - now holds a controlling stake of 51.9% of the leading bank in oil and diamond-rich Angola, a former Portuguese colony.

    Isabel Dos Santos was in any case already one of the main shareholders in BPI, along with Spain's CaixaBank.

    The 28 million euro (US$29.7 million) sale of the 2% stake allows BPI to reduce its exposure to Angolan government debt, which the ECB deemed too risky under new European banking laws that came into force in 2015.

    The central bank gave BPI until April 10 last year to reduce its risks, before allowing a delay.

    Smaller shareholders in BPI had previously complained that the sale of the 2% stake unfairly benefitted Dos Santos due to her large interests in both BPI and Unitel.

    The sale to Unitel has been seen as a means of securing Dos Santos' backing for a bid by CaixaBank, Spain's largest bank, to take over BPI.

    CaixaBank has for months been trying to work out a deal with Dos Santos, who owns an 18.6% stake in BPI, to move the takeover bid forward.



    NAMPA/AFP

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    China sets biggest yuan increaseChina sets biggest yuan increaseMajor one-day increase in more than 11 years China raised the exchange rate for the yuan against the US dollar by 0.92% from the previous day, the biggest one-day increase in more than 11 years. China on Friday hiked the yuan against the dollar in its biggest one-day increase since 2005, after the greenback fell against leading currencies the previous day.

    Markets in Asia were largely flat after a day of little change in Europe and on Wall Street, but Samsung shares were boosted as it tipped soaring profits while Toyota dipped following a threat from Donald Trump over a new vehicle plant in Mexico.

    The People's Bank of China (PBoC), which has been battling to shore up the sagging yuan, fixed it at 6.8668 to the greenback, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System, which operates the national foreign exchange market.

    The 0.92% hike was the strongest daily increase since July 2005, and comes after the yuan recently flirted with the 7.0 to the dollar mark, a threshold not crossed in more than eight years.

    China's currency has been under pressure from uncertainty over the health of the world's second largest economy, massive capital outflows and the sharp rise in the dollar following Donald Trump's election victory and anticipation of US interest rate hikes.

    Beijing only allows the tightly controlled yuan to rise or fall two percent on either side of the daily fix, to prevent volatility and maintain control over the currency.

    China said last week it would almost double the number of foreign currencies it uses to determine the official value of the yuan, thereby diluting the role of the dollar as authorities seek to arrest the yuan's fall and project an image of stability in the unit.

    In markets, Toyota shares dropped more than three percent at one point after US President-elect Trump threatened the carmaker with import taxes over the new vehicle plant.

    “Build plant in US or pay big border tax,” Trump tweeted of the company's plans.

    In a statement issued after the tweet, Toyota said it looked forward to “collaborating with the Trump administration” to serve consumer and industry interests.

    Shares in the Japanese automaker declined as much as 3.11% after the opening bell, later paring losses to close 1.68 percent lower at 6 930 yen.

    Other automakers also sagged, with Nissan declining 2.20% to 1 173 yen and Honda down 1.90% to 3 501 yen.

    Meanwhile Samsung rose almost two percent on news that it expects profits to soar by nearly 50% in the December quarter, as strong memory chip prices push earnings to their highest point in three years despite a smartphone recall fiasco.

    Brisk sales of memory chips and smartphone screens had been expected to boost the company's bottom line but the outcome exceeded analyst expectations.

    Tokyo was slightly down overall as the yen strength weighed on sentiment and following declines on Wall Street.

    The US currency was trading at 115.85 yen in afternoon trade, up from its earlier low of 115.07 yen, but sharply down from 118.12 yen seen on Wednesday.

    A stronger yen hurts the profitability of Japan's major exporters, hitting demand for their shares.

    Shanghai stocks also closed down less than half a percent, ending a three-day rising streak, dragged lower by a sell-off in small companies, dealers said. Hong Kong was flat in afternoon trade.



    NAMPA/AFP

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    Samsung tips profits to leap 50%Samsung tips profits to leap 50%Forecasts fourth-quarter profit at over three-year high The upbeat outlook comes despite a slight fall in revenue and the anticipated US$2.1 billion profit hit from the withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 premium smartphone in October. Samsung Electronics said last week it expects profits to soar by nearly 50% in the December quarter, as strong memory chip prices push earnings to their highest point in three years despite a smartphone recall fiasco.

    The world's largest memory chip and smartphone maker estimated its operating profit in the October-December period at 9.2 trillion won (US$7.8 billion), up 49.8% from a year earlier.

    The news sent Samsung shares rising 1.9%.

    Brisk sales of memory chips and smartphone screens had been expected to boost the company's bottom line but the outcome exceeded analyst expectations of a fourth-quarter profit of some 8.4 trillion won.

    "This is well beyond market expectations", Gred Roh, an analyst at HMC Investment Securities told AFP.

    The strong result came despite a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7, after owners reported some devices overheating and bursting into flames, in a crisis that damaged the reputation of the world's largest smartphone maker.

    Strong sales of organic light-emitting diode screens for smartphones and a weaker won also contributed significantly to the earnings growth, analysts said.

    The result was the largest since the third quarter of 2013 when the company reaped a 10.2 trillion won operating profit.

    "The company benefitted from strong demand for memory chips and hectic sales of its high-end smartphone screens using organic light-emitting diodes (OLED)", Roh said.

    Chip prices are expected to continue rising in coming months and may surge more than 30% in the first quarter alone, he said.

    The depreciation of South Korea's won against the dollar also contributed to the gains, as Samsung settles most of its component sales in the US currency, he added.

    Kim Dong-Wan at Macquarie Securities said global memory chip markets made a turn for the better in the third quarter last year, thanks to soaring demand for high-powered mobile devices.

    Profit margins for OLED screens were hovering at more than 20 percent and Samsung has no competitors in plastic OLEDs supplied to iPhones, he added.

    Fourth-quarter sales were estimated at 53 trillion won in the quarter, down 0.6% on year, Samsung said.

    Samsung predicted its operating profit for the whole of 2016 would rise more than 10% on-year to 29.2 trillion won.

    IBK Securities analyst Lee Seung-Woo said apart from its memory chip sector, IT and mobile businesses also outperformed market.

    Song Myung-Seop, an analyst at Hi Investment & Securities, said Samsung's first-quarter operating profit this year was likely to reach 9.5 trillion won, thanks to strong semiconductor and display sales.

    The rebound in profit suggests Samsung is fast recovering from fallouts from the recall its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphones last year.

    In October, it reported some 30% profit plunge following the recall crisis.

    The decision to discontinue production of a model aimed at competing with arch-rival Apple's iPhone was a devastating move for a company that prides itself on the quality production of cutting-edge technology.

    NAMPA/AFP

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    Toyota shares drop after Trump threat on Mexico plantToyota shares drop after Trump threat on Mexico plant Toyota shares dropped more than 3% Friday after US President-elect Donald Trump threatened the carmaker with import taxes over a new vehicle plant in Mexico.

    Shares in the Japanese automaker fell as much as 3.11% after the opening bell before paring losses to move 2.21% lower at 6 893 yen after the first half hour of trade.

    Other automakers also sagged, with Nissan declining 2.08% to 1 174.5 yen and Honda down 2.01% to 3 497 yen.

    Toyota became the latest company to face Trump's wrath when he tweeted “NO WAY” to the firm's plans for a new manufacturing plant in Mexico.

    “Build plant in US or pay big border tax,” Trump said.

    The president-elect - who takes office on January 20 - campaigned in part on bringing manufacturing jobs back to America's heartland and allegations of unfair trade.

    As well as the Trump salvo, Toyota shares were also under pressure as exporters across the board were hit with a fall in the dollar against the yen, which can damage their profitability.

    The US currency stood at 115.47 yen on Friday morning, compared with 115.89 yen in Tokyo on Thursday and sharply lower from 118.12 yen seen in Tokyo on Wednesday.In a statement issued after the tweet, the company said it looked forward to “collaborating with the Trump administration” to serve consumer and industry interests.

    “Production volume or employment in the US will not decrease as a result of our new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico announced in April 2015,” it said.

    The company employs 136 000 Americans and maintains 10 manufacturing facilities in the United States.



    NAMPA/AFP

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    Major water crisis hit Groot AubMajor water crisis hit Groot Aub Residents of Groot Aub, a settlement situated about 56km south of Windhoek, still experience water shortages four years on.

    The problem persists because water levels in the two boreholes have dropped due to lack of rain.

    The boreholes belong to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry that works together with the Khomas Regional Council to maintain the boreholes used by about 6 000 people.

    Disgruntled residents told Nampa last week that the situation has become a burning issue and a solution must be found.

    Henry van Wyk, 51, who resides in the Oshakati informal settlement, said they cannot even use toilets because the water taps are opened sometimes as early as 03:00.

    “When nature calls you have to run to the bushes to relieve yourself. This is dangerous for the kids and women,” said an irritated Van Wyk.

    Rina Ellitson, 50, resides in one section of Oshakati where she said water only comes after four to five days.

    The taps here open between 03:00 and 04:00.

    People use dirty water here from the wells they dug, said Ellitson.

    “We all know that if you don't have water, you cannot really do anything especially us who have children to take care off,” she said.

    Ellitson added that those with cars drive to the boreholes on the other side of the settlement or to Rehoboth, some 50km away, to fill their water containers.

    “The situation is not good for the elderly people who have no cars.”

    The Constituency Councillor for Windhoek Rural, Penina Inga Ita, said it is not only Groot Aub that has water shortages; “water shortages are experienced countrywide”.

    This is because of drought experienced over the past three years.

    The politician said the settlement has enough underground water but the challenge is it is used by a lot of people, including private farmers who drilled boreholes illegally.

    -Nampa





    PETER MURONGA

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    Possible sharp fall in food pricesPossible sharp fall in food pricesGood rains improve food security situation Consumers will likely have to wait until around March for price relief. Higher rainfall points to a sharp fall in food prices over the course of 2017, which should alleviate pressure, especially on low-income consumers further down the line, according to Herman van Papendorp and Sanisha Packirisamy of Momentum Investments.

    "Elevated food prices have eroded real wage gains for low-income consumers, while financial institutions have tightened credit lending conditions at this end of the market," said Packirisamy.

    Although economic times would likely remain challenging, John Loos, household and property sector strategist at FNB, indicated that good news for lower income groups in 2017 would be an alleviation of drought conditions and a meaningful slowing in food price inflation.

    He told Fin24 that last year the gap between high- and low-income groups widened. He thinks it was due to food expenditure being such an important factor for low-income groups.

    "Reports indicate some relief from the drought, but we are not out of the woods regarding the drought yet. If, however, one looks at the lower Producer Price Index (PPI) for agriculture, one can keep in mind that it normally leads the direction of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food," explained Loos.

    "So, we should start seeing lower food price inflation in the near term and if that comes down significantly, it could lead to some wage inflation being able to catch up."

    There has been a sharp slowdown in the PPI for Agriculture, from 20.6% year-on-year in June 2016 to 6.9% by November 2016. This provides Loos with some hope that the CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages will soon begin to see an inflation slowdown.

    He expects this to be key in slowing overall CPI inflation back into the 3% to 6% target range, from an expected average of 6.3% for 2016 as a whole to 5.9% in 2017.

    "This slowing in overall CPI inflation is not a major one, but is important in terms of our expectation that 2017 may not see further interest rate hiking," said Loos.

    Durable goods

    According to Packirisamy, consumers still seem unwilling to spend money on so-called big-ticket items like furniture, appliances and electronic goods.

    The Bureau of Economic Research (BER) found, for instance, that this weak uptake of durable goods is likely due to a subdued sentiment among consumers, rising interest rates and very little credit growth. Moreover, imported durable goods have become more expensive due to sustained rand weakness.

    Packirisamy pointed out that high-income earners - those earning above R14 000 per month - seem to be even more reluctant to buy durable goods.

    As for low-income consumers, Van Papendorp and Packirisamy remain cautious about spending in this category.

    "More clarity on the future political leadership in SA post the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) elective conference in December 2017 and further expected interest rate cuts in 2018 should provide a more encouraging backdrop for consumer spend in the medium term," they said.

    "Moreover, a bleak jobs outlook has persisted in an environment in which businesses have deferred spend on capital and labour in response to elevated political uncertainty and muted domestic demand."

    NEWS24

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    Debt traps threaten Nepal quake victimsDebt traps threaten Nepal quake victims Victims of Nepal's 2015 earthquake are at risk of slipping into debt as they face a second winter in temporary shelters, according to a monitoring group which says the government has been too slow to disperse reconstruction grants.

    Nearly 9 000 people were killed and over half a million homes were destroyed by the quake in April 2015.

    But 21 months on, thousands are enduring another harsh winter in temporary shelters, with an increasing number now being forced to take out loans to rebuild their homes.

    “There is a movement towards what we call a debt trap because people who have not been able to get on with their livelihood, with rebuilding homes or with income generation, have borrowed against future earnings,” said George Varughese, the Asia Foundation's Nepal director.

    Borrowing has more than doubled since the quake, with those in poorer districts often turning to money lenders who charge high interest rates, a survey by the group found.

    “What we have seen in other countries is that if you don't address a future debt crisis now, it will be too late to get them out of it later. One thing (that can be addressed) is ensuring that cash and credit are readily available. That's still not the case,” Varughese told AFP.

    Donors pledged US$4.1 billion after the earthquake - the strongest to hit the impoverished Himalayan nation in 80 years.

    But political wrangling over control of the funds and formation of the government body to oversee the reconstruction effort meant the first instalments of a housing grant were only paid out in March 2016.

    The National Reconstruction Agency (NRA) has now distributed the first 50 000 rupee (US$460) of a promised 300 000 rupee grant to around 450 000 households.

    But the NRA has not yet finalised the list of those eligible for payouts and more than 200 000 people have complained of their names being omitted.

    Sukuram Khayaju, a mason in the town of Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, recently borrowed 500 000 rupees from a local cooperative to rebuild his home.

    “How long could we wait?” Khayaju told AFP. “Everyone here has taken out loans. It is difficult to eat, how can we build houses?”

    Nepal's central bank has offered families loans at a subsidised interest rate of two percent, but only about 100 people have taken up the scheme, which has been criticised for being needlessly bureaucratic.

    The NRA hopes to begin payments of the second tranche of the housing grant soon but has repeatedly missed deadlines for agreements with victims.

    “We are making progress and speeding up the process to complete our tasks,” NRA chief Sushil Gyewali told AFP.



    NAMPA/AFP

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  • 01/08/17--14:00: Pot smokers to defy Trump
  • Pot smokers to defy TrumpPot smokers to defy TrumpMarijuana activists plan to smoke 4 200 joints in a massive protest at Donald Trump's Washington D.C. inauguration. Light up at his inauguration Marijuana legalisation advocates plan to pass out joints – 4 200 of them - at Donald Trump's inauguration, defying the president-elect and the seamless Republican rule he's bringing to Washington.

    Since February 2015 it has been legal here to grow up to six cannabis plants at home and possess up to two ounces of pot, so long as you are 21 or older.

    But it is illegal to smoke the stuff in public, and especially to buy or sell it. That is because Congress, which largely oversees the US capital, barred it from regulating sales of marijuana.

    So pot's legal status in Washington is fragile. And it could vanish altogether if the upcoming Republican Congress votes simply to cancel the legalization that was approved here in a referendum.

    “By giving away marijuana at inauguration, we're setting up the battle flag,” said Adam Eidinger, 44, initiator of the 2014 pot referendum and founder of the DC Marijuana Coalition. “We're about to lose our right.”

    At his home, six pot plants are growing out on the balcony. A fire burns in the fireplace as three colleagues - Elizabeth, Natalie and Felicia - roll joint after joint on a coffee table.

    Eidinger reckons 4 200 joints are about four pounds (just under two kilos) and worth around US$20 000.

    To abide by the limit on how much any single person can possess, the reefers will be handed out by 50 people on Inauguration Day, January 20.

    Elizabeth takes about a minute to roll a joint, and Felicia just 40 seconds. It is just pot, with no tobacco mixed in. Adam has contributed from his own private stash of high power pot, rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in cannabis.

    The goal is for everyone to light up on the National Mall precisely four minutes and 20 seconds after Trump begins his inauguration speech from the steps of the Capitol to the vast crowd that will gather below. 4/20 is a universal code for marijuana lovers.

    There is just one problem: Marijuana is still illegal on any federal land, such as the Mall. So the people who get the free joints will have to make a decision.

    “They can go home and smoke it and watch the inauguration on TV. Or they can choose to commit an act of civil disobedience, and smoke on the Mall and make a statement,” said Eidinger.

    Asked if they will fire up, the three joint rollers answered, Greek chorus style, “oh yeah.”



    NAMPA/AFP

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    Zimbabwe sells at least 35 elephants to ChinaZimbabwe sells at least 35 elephants to China Zimbabwe's wildlife agency said last week it has sold 35 elephants to China to ease overpopulation and raise funds for conservation, amid criticism from animal welfare activists that such sales are unethical.

    This once-prosperous country's economy has fallen apart, and Zimbabwe's government has said it needs to sell wildlife to support its people and conservation efforts. The government also has sought to sell its ivory stockpile for millions of dollars.

    The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority did not say how much China paid for the 35 elephants but said it was “turning to friendly countries to extract value out of our wildlife.”

    This is the first time Zimbabwe has confirmed the December 23 sale since activists announced a plane was carrying the animals to China.

    The wildlife agency didn't say whether the elephants were adults, which has been a concern for some conservation groups.



    Lack of transparency

    “Why is it done clandestinely and then announced two weeks later? Because we know that at times calves have been taken away from their mothers, conditions have been atrocious and the money, no one really knows how it is used,” said Johnny Rodrigues, whose Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce has been vocal about elephant sales to China.

    A similar outcry followed similar sales in 2015.

    The statement by Zimbabwe's wildlife agency said its conservation efforts have been affected by restrictions on selling the country's ivory stockpile and on trophy hunting of certain species.

    In 2014, the United States banned the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe, citing a lack of transparency in the use of conservation funds generated by their export.

    Zimbabwe's wildlife agency has said this wildlife-rich southern African country has 36 000-plus more elephants than it can support.

    The 35 elephants were captured from Hwange National Park and flown to China's Shanghai Exhibition Park, Beijing Wildlife Park and Hangzhou Wildlife Park, the agency said. It said it followed international regulations in the sale, adding that it previously sold other animals to Europe and the United States.

    NEWS24

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  • 01/08/17--14:00: Shot of the day
  • Shot of the dayShot of the day WE GOT YOU: Six month-old baby elephant 'Clear Sky' rests her head on the shoulder of one of her guardians during a short break in a hydrotherapy session at a local clinic in Chonburi Province last week. After losing part of her left foot in a snare in Thailand, the baby elephant is now learning to walk again -- in water. The six-month-old is the first elephant to receive hydrotherapy at an animal hospital, a few hours from Bangkok. The goal is to strengthen the withered muscles in her front leg, which was wounded three months ago in an animal trap laid by villagers to protect their crops. Photo: NAMPA/AFP

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    Lack of control bogs the mindLack of control bogs the mind The arrest of several suspects for fraud and corruption at Walvis Bay for money laundering and defrauding the Receiver of Revenue since 2013, a period of three years, is disturbing to say the least. What is telling about the entire issue, is the fact that it is suspected that these practices have been going on for three years. This is what is known and whether this has been going on for longer and indeed whether it is more widespread, is not known – by now we suspect this is only the tip of the iceberg. What is most disturbing however is that there is very obviously a total lack of control at the Inland Revenue offices. Once again how widespread this is, one cannot tell, because if the necessary checks and balances had been in place and working in the first instance, this problem would never have occurred. Financial control is crucial to the people of Namibia. It is indeed good that some semblance of action is finally taking place, kudos to the authorities for doing their work, these individuals should be promoted and honoured – salute! However, the vrot must be brought to book and imprisoned. The money laundering case from Ondangwa must also be dealt with decisively and these individuals, whoever they may be must also be brought to book and imprisoned – for good measure we can proverbially “throw away the key”. Namibians are sick of corruption and all the while, many Namibians live below the poverty line – what kind of message are we sending to the poor and our future generations when we allow suspected murderers and rhino poachers like Gerson Kandji to be released on bail. What kind of example are we setting for the poor and our future generations when we allow thieves to get away with millions, if not collectively billions of dollars pilfered from our state coffers? Are we not sending the wrong messages and setting the wrong examples? If criminals are not brought to book and imprisoned, we are sending a very dangerous message that crime is OK in Namibia. Is this what we want?

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  • 01/08/17--14:00: ANC marks 105th milestone
  • ANC marks 105th milestoneANC marks 105th milestoneWe must stop tearing one another apart - Zuma The ANC president slammed ill-discipline and factionalism during the party's 105th anniversary celebration yesterday. The ANC has called on party members to stop fighting one another and instead focus on priorities like jobs and fighting crime and corruption.

    Addressing a packed Orlando stadium yesterday, President Jacob Zuma said the party had heard people's cries that the ANC “are too busy fighting each other and not paying sufficient attention to their needs”.

    “We must give our people hope and unite against our common enemies which are unemployment, inequality and poverty, and not against one another,” Zuma said.

    He was delivering the January 8 statement by the National Executive Committee to give party supporters the plan of action for the year.



    Challenges to unity

    In the full statement, the party admits that it is plagued by “serious challenges to its unity threatening its position as leader of society”.

    “Divisive tendencies such as factionalism, gatekeeping and manipulation of internal processes exist at all levels of ANC, the ANC leagues, the Alliance and the mass democratic movement,” the statement reads.

    It said these tendencies inhibit the party's ability to give decisive leadership to society.

    “Our own research and interactions with members of the ANC demonstrates clearly that the people abhor the apparent preoccupation with personal gain.”

    The theme for the January 8 statement is 'Unity in Action' following a turbulent 2016 that saw public spats by senior leaders divided over Zuma's leadership and calls for a consultative conference following an 8% decline in electoral support.



    Elective conference

    The divisions are expected to heighten ahead of the December elective conference.

    The party has called on its leagues to lead the push for unity.

    “The ANC leagues are the coalface of our organisation representing specific constituencies within our movement, they must lead programmes to unite the people,” Zuma said.

    The divisions have extended to its alliance partners Cosatu and SACP, unhappy about the government policies and party direction.

    “Our task is also to unite the alliance as said by President [OR] Tambo during [Moses] Mabhida's funeral to guard the alliance jealously and not to tear ourselves apart.” Zuma said.





    NEWS24

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    Seychelles' first president Mancham diesSeychelles' first president Mancham dies Seychelles' founding president James Mancham, who spent only a year in office before being ousted in a coup, died yesterday aged 77, his nephew and staff said.

    The former politician and lawyer, who spent his years in retirement writing several books and promoting his island nation, was found dead at home.

    “This morning his wife told us that Mr Mancham was not moving and we did the necessary to get him transported to hospital,” one of his security guards Philippe Figaro told AFP.

    “Doctors confirmed he was dead,” said the former president's nephew Derick Pothin.

    Mancham, who initially opposed the Indian Ocean archipelago's breakaway from British rule, won the country's first election by a small margin in 1976.

    A year later he was overthrown in a bloodless coup by his prime minister, France-Albert Rene, while he was attending a Commonwealth conference in London. Rene set up a one-party socialist state.

    In 1981 South African mercenaries led by notorious British soldier-for-hire in Africa Colonel “Mad Mike” Hoare planned a coup to return the pro-Western Mancham to power.

    The group entered the country disguised as a beer-drinking tourist party called “The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers.”

    However their plan came undone when an airport inspector found a weapon in their luggage and a gunfight broke out.

    The men then hijacked an Air India flight and forced the pilot to take them to Durban in South Africa to escape.

    South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission later found the apartheid government - keen to do away with leftist powers on the continent - had been involved in planning the attack.

    After his ouster, Mancham fled into exile until 1993, when multi-party democracy was restored in the islands.

    Mancham again vied for the presidency in 1998 but lost to Rene.

    The Seychelles comprise some 115 islands scattered off the east coast of Africa, whose white sandy beaches and turquoise waters have made it a magnet for wealthy foreigners, some of whom also enjoy the country's reputation as a tax haven.



    NAMPA/AFP

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    MVA starts Opotuli road safety campaignMVA starts Opotuli road safety campaign The Motor Vehicle Accident MVA) Fund on Friday launched the 'Opotuli' road safety campaign for travellers returning to their respective destinations.

    Opotuli means “we are here” in Oshiwambo.

    It aims to make sure road users abide by the traffic laws.

    The campaign's partners include the Namibian Police and the Private Sector Road Safety Forum.

    MVA Fund acting spokesperson Sidney Boois there will be an increase of traffic on the main routes as most business operations commence today and most schools open this Wednesday.

    “The checkpoint is there to check whether drivers and vehicles are in compliance with the road (traffic) system,” he said, referring to the Windhoek-Okahandja and Windhoek-Rehoboth police roadblocks.

    Boois explained that road users are aware of the laws, however, their attitude and behaviour prove different.

    Chief Executive Officer of the Private Sector Road Safety Forum Horst Heimstadt explained the campaign is a good initiative but he is not sure drivers realise the dangers of accidents when travelling.

    “They claim to forget to check their vehicles, which should be done to prevent road accidents, but they do not forget to fill their petrol tanks,” Heimstadt said.

    Conditions of tyres, windshields, lights and wiper blades are some of the things drivers should check before using the vehicle.

    The Fund also handed out two baby-safety car seats to Fritz Reynecke and Loide Ayihengo, who were both stopped at the Windhoek-Okahandja roadblock for a routine check.

    Reynecke, who was driving from Swakopmund to Windhoek, said he was happy with the gift.

    He said the road is full of vehicles and most motorists were abiding to the laws.

    “I am glad because I had a bigger car seat which does not fit into the car, so I am happy I received a smaller one,” said Ayihengo, who was driving from Rundu to Rosh Pinah with her two-month-old baby.

    Vehicle dealer, M&Z Motors, handed over 10 child car seats to the MVA Fund in Windhoek during November last year in an initiative to prevent the risk of critical injury or fatality of infants and toddlers not strapped into child car seats.

    Receivers of the car seats will be contacted after three months for an interview to be possible road safety ambassadors in their areas.

    Operation Opotuli activities will be conducted along the B1 and B2 routes. The B1 runs from Noordoewer on the South African border to Oshikango on the Angolan border and B2 runs from Okahandja to Walvis Bay in the Erongo Region.

    Nampa

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  • 01/08/17--14:00: Reserve force to the rescue
  • Reserve force to the rescueReserve force to the rescueTwenty-nine members of the police reserve force were roped in to help fight crime over the festive period in Erongo. Officers praised for curbing festive season crime The officer responsible for community policing in Erongo Region, Warrant Officer Ileni Shapumba, attributed the relatively quiet festive season to hard work and efforts of 29 members from the police reserve force.

    “They joined us from the Khomas and Oshikoto regions and were deployed in Swakopmund and Henties Bay.

    Their presence contributed to the success of our mission to ensure the safety and security of residents and holidaymakers throughout the festive season,” he said.

    Deputy Commissioner Tobias Gerber echoed the same sentiments and said reserve force members complemented local police officers with crime prevention efforts. They worked alongside police officers in three teams consisting of ten members each that worked three shifts.

    The festive season crime combating operation focused primarily on random body searches, foot and vehicle patrols, putting up mini roadblocks and rendering VIP protection duties.

    It resulted in the arrest of some suspects in Mondesa.

    One person was arrested and charged with malicious damage to state property after a police vehicle was hit with rocks on 9 December while three individuals were caught and charged with housebreaking.

    Fines to the value of N$11 750 were issued.

    Twelve fines for contravening the liquor act were issued, one for driving without a valid driver’s licence and one for permitting someone to drive a vehicle without a valid driver’s licence.

    No injuries were sustained and no loss of government or personal properties occurred for the duration of the operation.

    Knives (49), screwdrivers (5), an axe, a panga, a blade, scissors (5), an ultra-high voltage prodder, a cricket bat, an axe handle, a toy gun, sharpened iron bars (4), dagga (5 pokes), instruments used to smoke drugs, a remote control, cellphones (12), cell phone batteries (11) and cellphone chargers (2) were confiscated.

    “The coast is renowned for the high number of assault-related incidents, robberies and murders which occurs at drinking spots. The large quantities of dangerous weapons we confiscated bears testimony to the violent nature of some of the residents,” said Shapumba.

    Crime statistics indicate 260 cases were reported in Erongo in December 2016.

    He also thanked strategic partners who assisted the police with sponsorships such as soft drinks, meals and accommodation for officers on duty at for example roadblocks during the December holidays.

    “Safety is an indispensable need for all. While the police are tasked with ensuring safety and security those who assist us in kind enable us to stay focused and to prevent crime. These type of operations will be an ongoing effort to complement crime prevention efforts at the coast,” he concluded.



    OTIS FINCK

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