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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

older | 1 | .... | 219 | 220 | (Page 221) | 222 | 223 | .... | 1152 | newer

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    Budget cuts: Too little too late? Budget cuts: Too little too late? JEMIMA BEUKES

    Academic Omu Kakujaha-Matundu has suggested that the government should have pursued a fiscal consolidation path as far back as 2008, as the economy showed signs of strain in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

    This follows a circular from the Namibian Police announcing that it had suspended recruitment for the next three years because of budget cuts.

    The force has been confronted with a number of budget cuts since the beginning of the year.

    The 2016/17 budget for the Safety and Security Ministry was cut to N$5.1 billion, down from N$14.3 billion in the 2015/16 financial year.

    Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga was quoted as saying last year that the police had been told not to buy a single vehicle for the next three years.

    Earlier this month, the police issued a memo stating that all those whose student fees were being paid by the force would have to start paying for themselves in the 2017/18 financial year.

    The police are not the only government agency that must bear the brunt of this tightening of the public purse. In September last year the finance ministry issued a directive to all government ministries to freeze the awarding of new tenders and feasibility studies or surveys.

    According to Kakujaha-Matundu Namibia’s financial woes will undoubtedly increase unemployment, which will compromise President Hage Geingob’s war on poverty.

    “If the government is going to struggle like this it must downsize and instead of providing jobs, jobs in the public sector will disappear,” he argues.

    He added that it was unlikely that this state of affairs would completely destroy the president’s track record, but it might be dented and the nation might lose a bit of confidence in Geingob.

    “I think he was aware of how the economy was doing and yet he still went ahead and promised too much. Since 2008 the economy has showed signs of strain,” the economist said.

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    Sanlam says pension claims are falseSanlam says pension claims are falseWRP’s leadership battle rages on The insurance company says there are no payouts due to former SWATF members but the ex-soldiers say deductions were made for a group scheme without their consent. CATHERINE SASMAN



    The Sanlam Group has categorically denied that it is in the process of facilitating pension payouts to former SWATF members, as is alleged by a group who is currently registering former soldiers for the purported payouts.

    Tertius Stears, Sanlam Group chief executive officer, in a statement this week cautioned the public that such information is “completely false” and “totally misleading” adding there is “no pension payout administered by Sanlam to any former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers”.

    “Members of the public and especially the former SWATF and Koevoet are strongly advised that should they receive similar communication in the form of a letter, email or text notification, to be cautious and not hesitate to contact Sanlam since this information is false,” Stears stated.

    A group calling itself the ex-South-West Africa Territorial Forces is currently registering former soldiers for the alleged pension pay-outs at the Frans Indongo Building in the city centre from the parliamentary offices of the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), which is occupied by the two WRP members of parliament Samuel Fleermuys and Benson Kaapala.

    Hordes of former soldiers have reportedly already registered and a steady stream is continuously going to the offices to get registered.

    The national coordinator of the registration process, George Smieer, said the pension claims being made stem from deductions made from the ex-soldiers’ salaries for a pension group scheme agreed to by the former South West Africa government and Sanlam in 1981.

    He claimed that former soldiers did not sign up to join the group scheme and that the money was deducted without their consent.

    Smieer said this money was supposed to have been paid out at independence in 1990 but that this has not yet happened.

    He presented a payslip dating 1988 of a former SWATF soldier which shows that deductions were made on items such as “A/Sanlam”,” SAW Ass” [Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag Assuransie] (or South African Army Insurance), and “SWAGM-Stig” [Suidwes Afrikaanse Gebiedsmag Stigting] (SWATF Foundation).

    According to Smieer, 28 names have already been forwarded to Sanlam for the payouts. He said these payments were to be “processed” before the end of this month.

    REGISTRATION PROCESS QUESTIONED

    Questions have been raised about the manner in which the registration process is being carried out.

    At registration, ex-soldiers are presented, among others, with a form which they have to sign that purportedly gives Fleermuys permission to get “SWATF payroll information from the Ministry of Finance” so that Fleermuys “can claim” the respective ex-soldiers’ “pension fund (money) from insurance companies”.

    They are then requested to provide their SWATF force numbers and rank with a certified copy of their identity documents.

    Sources, however, claimed that it is also required from the ex-soldiers to bring along their voters cards to the registration process.

    Smieer denied vehemently that this is a recruitment gimmick by Fleermuys, as was suggested by some sources, saying it was only required if the ex-soldiers cannot present any other proof of identification.

    “The registration has nothing to do with the WRP or any other political party. We are using the WRP offices because we currently do not have our own office. The WRP is merely helping us out but we are in the process of finding our own office,” said Smieer.

    Smieer added: “We do not want to provoke anyone. This is only about withdrawals made from our salaries.”

    Registration a “scam”

    The leader of the WRP, Hewat Beukes, said the registration exercise is a “comprehensive scam concocted” by Fleermuys who allegedly intends to present the registered names as WRP members and his and Kaapala’s supporters.

    Beukes and others are attempting to have Fleermuys and Kaapala removed as WRP parliamentarians, claiming that neither of the MPs are members of the party anymore and say the WRP parliamentary offices are being used illegally for the registration process.

    Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi however, has so far refused to have the two removed, claiming that there are two factions in the party. Katjavivi has also refused to disburse parliamentary funds to the WRP.

    The Beukes group has launched a national and international campaign against the denial of Katjavivi to remove Fleermuys and Kaapala and on 12 January, wrote a letter to Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein to cease all payments to Fleermuys and Kaapala until such time that the issue of all payments due to the WRP and its nominated parliamentarians, is resolved.

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  • 01/17/17--14:00: Battle lines drawn
  • Battle lines drawnBattle lines drawnCourt battle over phosphate mining intensifies Phosphate mining in Namibia shows no signs of being shelved as the company involved has turned to the courts, accusing the government of delaying tactics. ELLANIE SMIT
    The legal battle regarding a controversial proposal to mine phosphate off the Namibian coast has intensified, with Namibian Marine Phosphate also turning to the courts over the matter.

    But the minister of environment and tourism is delaying the proceedings in an appeal lodged against him and four other respondents in the marine phosphate mining saga.

    Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) has filed a notice of motion at the High Court to appeal a decision by environment minister Pohamba Shifeta to withdraw an environmental clearance licence that had been issued for marine phosphate mining.

    The other respondents in the matter are community activist Michael Gawaseb, the environmental commissioner and the secretary to the appeal panel.

    Shifeta announced last year November that the environmental clearance granted for offshore phosphate mining would be withdrawn after hearing an appeal made by Michael Gawaseb, who is a trustee of the Economic Social Justice Trust.

    The environmental clearance was issued by the environmental commissioner in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Theofillius Nghitila, for NMP’s Sandpiper Project, located about 120km southwest of Walvis Bay.

    Namibian Marine Phosphate aims to appeal Shifeta’s decision before the High Court on 3 February.

    In the meantime the company has filed further documents with the High Court requesting the ministry to deliver the records of Gawaseb’s appeal to the registrar of the court.

    That was requested on 8 and the record of proceedings should have been submitted to the court by 21 December. According to the latest documents no such record of proceedings has been delivered and no reply has been forthcoming from the ministry.

    “The provision of the record of proceedings is of course a critical requirement for the continued prosecution of the aforementioned appeal. Without it the appeal will not be able to proceed,” NMP stated in the court documents.

    Its founding affidavit states that the lodging of the appeal by Gawaseb against the granting of an environmental clearance licence to NMP and the hearing thereof were irregular and improper.

    It argues that Gawaseb’s appeal was lodged too late and that the minister erred in hearing the appeal.

    According to the affidavit Shifeta also alternatively erred in not dismissing the appeal on this basis.

    The affidavit says NMP was not informed of the appeal in terms of the applicable regulations and it was also not informed of the appeal hearing or afforded an opportunity to make representations thereafter.

    This violated its rights in terms of the Namibian Constitution as well as its common-law rights, the company claims.

    According to the affidavit Shifeta allowed the presenting of evidence and NMP was not afforded the opportunity to question or cross-examine this evidence.

    The affidavit also says that Shifeta allowed Gawaseb to make submissions to him and present facts to him in circumstances where the Environmental Act does not allow for or envisage such procedures and NMP was not allowed to object.

    It also says the minister did not have the authority to make a finding directing Gawaseb to “invent any form of notifying the public.”

    According to the affidavit the minister erred in finding that Gawaseb had the necessary standing to lodge and prosecute the appeal and in not dismissing the appeal.

    It says a further error was made by not requesting further information and instead the minister irregularly relied on “inadmissible, irrelevant hearsay and opinion-based evidence with no proper factual underpinnings” and without advising NMP.

    It says Shifeta made a mistake in not finding in favour of NMP and making findings that are not tangible by law.

    Another case, in which three organisations representing the Namibian fishing industry asked the High Court to set aside the decision to grant an environmental clearance certificate to NMP, and also to declare that a mining licence issued to the company was invalid, was postponed last year.

    A case management hearing on the matter is scheduled to take place before Judge Harald Geier on 24 January, by when the parties involved in the case should indicate to the court how the litigation between them should proceed.

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    Windhoek school taps open againWindhoek school taps open again JANA-MARI SMITH

    Water supply to 25 Windhoek schools was restored by the City of Windhoek on Monday after a temporary suspension was ordered last week due to a large debt owed by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.

    The City of Windhoek yesterday confirmed that water supply to all affected schools was restored after a payment plan had been agreed with the ministry on Monday.

    According to sources, after at least two letters were sent to school administrators in December and January, asking that all outstanding accounts be settled, the first taps were closed last week Wednesday in a final bid to resolve the issue.

    Sanet Steenkamp, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Education, confirmed yesterday that water supply to 25 schools had been cut off since last week.

    She said discussions “at the highest level” took place to address the issue urgently, with a final agreement reached on Monday.

    Steenkamp said the ministry made “a substantial payment to the City” on Monday and agreed to an additional payment to be made on Friday.

    She would not comment on the total amount outstanding. Reliable sources claimed that the ministry’s municipal bill exceeded N$20 million.

    The City of Windhoek would not comment on the outstanding amount either, citing a confidentiality agreement.

    Steenkamp said the outstanding debt was linked to the government’s “stringent austerity measures” and the decentralisation of funds, which were not released in bulk anymore and slowed down payments.

    “The resources are there and so is the willingness to engage the service providers as well as the commitment to settle accounts and payments that we owe others,” she said.

    Steenkamp said the decentralisation of funds provided “more leeway in prioritising what areas are critical that require intervention and payments.”

    Nevertheless, as a result, “the release of funds is not at the same speed as it used to be.”

    Steenkamp said the problem was confined to the Khomas Region. Late last year, in September or October, 20 schools in the Kavango East region faced a similar situation, which was “handled immediately,” she said.

    A list of affected schools was not made public, although reports indicated that they included the Windhoek Technical High School, Augeikhas Primary School, Centaurus High School, Acacia High School and Augustineum Secondary School.

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    SPWC to back female candidates SPWC to back female candidates JEMIMA BEUKES

    The Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) says it will unequivocally support any female candidate nominated for the top four positions when the ruling party holds its elective congress towards the end of the year.

    SPWC secretary Eunice Iipinge says there is no doubt that Swapo women are capable of taking up leading positions within the party structures.

    Two of the top four positions are expected to be filled by women in line with the party’s 50/50 gender representation policy that was adopted in 2013.

    At the moment, Swapo deputy secretary-general Laura McLeod-Katjirua is the only woman serving in the top four.

    In an interview with Namibian Sun yesterday, Iipinge emphasised that it was the women’s council’s duty to support fellow women interested in leading positions such as the post of vice-president.

    She was, however, quick to add that at this stage there have not been any nominations.

    She also lamented the patriarchal system and traditional beliefs that drag down efforts to uplift the social status of women.

    “What can be so difficult for women to run the country?” she asked, adding that women too must benefit from the spoils of liberation.

    According to her, most policies drafted during party conferences are gender blind and most male comrades are oblivious to this.

    “Men are comfortable and they enjoy their benefits and are not concerned with gender equality. But who does not want a house, a Mercedes-Benz or a farm? Why can these benefits accrued to such positions not go to women?”

    She is adamant that criticism levelled over the last few years that the SPWC was not relevant, was unfounded.

    “We are as relevant as the Swapo Party is relevant. We must make sure policies are gender neutral. The SPWC has workshops and even one-on-one meetings in order to uplift women,” she said.

    Speaking on the scourge of gender-based violence Iipinge advised young women to stop “abusing the love” of their boyfriends and to stand on their own feet.

    According to her the SPWC condemns violence against women but does so in a way that educates society about unity, equality and love so that people do not harm each other.

    “You do not want a situation where a woman has five boyfriends, one pays the flat and the others pay for the other things. Young women must respect themselves,” she urged.

    She added that the SPWC was doing enough to ensure the uplifting of women in society but that women must emancipate themselves from mental slavery.

    “We have been sensitising people, we have been doing studies and informed women that they are biologically different than men but that socially we’re all are equal,” she said.

    According to her the high rate of gender-based violence in the country is a result of what she terms as a transition from a “mind of hatred” during the apartheid era to freedom and equality for all.

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    HopSol, Benjamin bring hope to footballHopSol, Benjamin bring hope to football A youth soccer league targeting players between the ages of 9 and 19 was launched this morning in Windhoek. The HopSol Youth League is an initiative of former Brave Warriors captain Collin Benjamin. The league will be sponsored by HopSol for the next three years to the tune of N$1 million. The retired Benjamin said the targeted children will be those from the less privileged communities. For now the league will run in Windhoek only and will target local schools. Benjamin explained that depending on the availability of girls, they will also be included in the league but for now they will only start with the boys. About 700 young players are expected to play in the league, which will kick off towards the end of February. The Ramblers, SKW and Van Rhyn Secondary School fields have been identified for league games. At the moment it will be run as a private league, but according to Benjamin, they will seek the blessings of the NFA.
    KAINO NGHIITONGO



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  • 01/18/17--14:00: HopSol catches ’em young
  • HopSol catches ’em youngHopSol catches ’em youngRetired footballer passionate about skills development A youth soccer league has been launched by retired Brave Warriors player Collin Benjamin and playing street soccer will soon be a thing of the past for boys in Windhoek. KAINO NGHITONGO



    Windhoek’s children are being targeted as beneficiaries of the HopSol youth soccer league that was launched yesterday by retired footballer Collin Benjamin.

    Speaking at the launch, Benjamin said Namibia was blessed with an abundance of soccer talent but lacked sufficient grassroots development.

    The youth soccer league is an initiative of the BKK Auas Sports Trust that aims to create a platform for soccer development among youth aged nine to 19, with a financial boost by HopSol Solar Power of N$1 million for three years.

    “I am passionate about addressing this social challenge and using soccer as a tool to drive changes within our society,” Benjamin said.

    “I believe it is imperative that for soccer to advance and for talented athletes to be identified, proper and structured development programmes should be in place and each in its own capacity and level.”

    He said the creation of the youth league was an initiative to provide a platform for soccer development, “as we want to broaden the current scope of organised football and diversify, and basically revive the culture of school rivalry.

    “When I was growing up I did not have the chance to play in school competitions but that is what we want to revive, we want schools to play against each other and we want the whole location talking about it,” said Benjamin.

    He said the BKK Sports Trust wanted to create an atmosphere for proper talent and skills development by offering regular playing opportunities and developing every individual’s talent in the process.

    HopSol Solar Power’s chairman, Robert Hopperdietzel, expressed the company’s desire to utilise the youth league to develop talented players who can compete with the best in the world.

    “We would like to use sport as a vehicle to remove at least 1 000 children from the streets and create future soccer icons who can place Namibia on the global map,” he said.

    About 700 players from different clubs and schools are expected to participate in the league this year.

    Each age group is expected to have 10 teams. No registration fees will be charged but commitment will be demanded.

    The league will seek co-sponsors to help with transport for the teams.

    At the moment only boys will take part but Benjamin said depending on the number of interested girls, they too would be welcome to take part.

    The league will start on 24 February and end on 28 October. Matches will be played at the Ramblers, SKW, DTS and Van Rhijn soccer fields.

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    Budget headaches for sport planBudget headaches for sport plan The Ministry of Sport is expected to approve the proposed National Sport Plan soon, says its permanent secretary, Alfred Ilukena.

    The plan was drafted at the Namibia Sports Commission's (NSC) National Sports Conference in 2014, with the aim of creating a winning sporting nation.

    One of the major projects of the plan is the categorisation of sport codes.

    Introducing sport in all the regions is another point stipulated in the plan.

    The NSC presented the plan to the ministry for approval.

    The commission's chairperson, Joel Matheus, said earlier this month that they were waiting for Minster Jerry Ekandjo to approve the plan.

    “Yes, we did receive the sport plan and we have been busy doing some evaluation and requested a few things which needed to be changed on it,” Ilukena said in a telephonic interview.

    However, a source in the ministry expressed concern about the implementation of the plan in view of the government's budget cuts.

    The Ministry of Finance has been cutting the budgets of government departments in an attempt to stabilise the economy.

    Therefore, the source predicts that it is going to be difficult for the plan to be approved, given the financial constraints.

    “I must tell you that there are tough times ahead and many people within the Ministry of Sport are divided on the idea of approving the plan while the budget might possibly not suit the wishes of the Sports Commission.

    “Some people feel that there is no point in approving the plan because it might not even be implemented this year due to budget cuts,” the source said.

    Ilukena admitted that the budget cuts had complicated the situation, but said it would not stop the ministry from approving the plan.

    He believes it is important to get the plan approved despite the unstable economy.

    “The document can be approved and perhaps the implementation process will wait until there is a suitable budget available.

    “I do feel that it is important that the sports commission sit with an approved plan given that it will make the implementation process easier and faster once there are funds available,” Ilukena said.

    JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA

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    Ireland turns it against Namibia Ireland turns it against Namibia ESPN SPORTS MEDIA

    A fiery start by Namibia's opening pair was wasted thanks to a middle-overs intervention by spinners George Dockrell and Jacob Mulder as Ireland rallied back in the field to hold Namibia to 146, eventually chasing down the target with two balls to spare in a five-wicket win.

    The victory ended Ireland's six-match winless streak in T20Is and kept them alive for a spot in the semi-finals while Namibia's second defeat of the tournament made them the first team eliminated from contention for a spot in the knockout round.

    Louis van der Westhuizen blazed his way to 50 off 25 balls as part of an 81-run stand in just 8.4 overs.

    But he and fellow opener Stephan Baard fell in the space of six balls and despite being well-positioned at the halfway stage at 89 for 2, Namibia could only muster another 57 off the final ten overs.

    Teenage left-arm fast bowler Joshua Little produced an excellent final over, taking his two wickets while conceding just two runs by mixing his pace to perfection.

    Ireland lost Paul Stirling and Captain William Porterfield inside four overs and could have been three down inside the Powerplay when Kevin O'Brien took on Gerrie Snyman's arm at midwicket for a dicey run.

    O'Brien, on four with the score 48 for 2, gave up as the throw came at the non-striker's end but narrowly missed.

    It allowed his partnership with Stuart Poynter to eventually reach 48, Ireland's biggest of the match, and set them up to chase down the target, with Gary Wilson striking a nerveless 38 not out off 28 balls.

    Legspinner Mulder took some punishment from van der Westhuizen in the seventh over, yanked over square leg and then driven over long-off for a pair of sixes in a 17-run over.

    Mulder was taken out of the attack and replaced by Craig Young at the Pavilion End, who beat the burly left-handed batsman for pace on an attempted pull and induced a return catch.

    Porterfield then brought Mulder back from the Scoreboard End in the 14th over, and with two right-handers to bowl to, he caused problems for Namibia.

    Craig Williams lofted a catch to long-off on Mulder's second ball back, the first in a string of six dots.

    Four of those were bowled to Gerhard Erasmus, whose frustration reached a tipping point in Mulder's next over when he skipped down the track but couldn't reach out to a delivery bowled well wide of off stump as Wilson whipped off the bails for Mulder's second wicket.

    He wound up conceding just 10 off his final three overs in what was a match-turning spell.

    Jacob Mulder delivered a decisive spell to restrict Namibia to 146.

    Namibia only conceded 14 extras in their first two games, but most of them have come at crucial moments.

    Erasmus, who took a spectacular one-handed catch on the midwicket boundary earlier to dismiss O'Brien, took an easier grab at long-off on the next ball.

    However, he forgot about the free hit and flicked the ball in the air in mini-celebration to allow Wilson back on strike for a crucial second run.

    Another misfield at midwicket ended the over to allow two more for Wilson as Namibia continued to unravel.

    Following the dismissal of O'Brien in the 11th over, left-arm spinner Bernard Scholtz bowled a maiden in the 12th to heap pressure on new batsman Greg Thompson, including a pair of very strong lbw shouts that were turned down.

    He conceded eight in the 14th over, at which point he had figures of 3-1-13-0. However, captain Sarel Burger took him off in favour of Frylinck for that crucial error-filled 16th and Scholtz never came back for a fourth.

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    U-17 netball team to compete in SAU-17 netball team to compete in SAExposure matters for young players The assistant coach of the national under-17 netball team, Natasha Thakur, is confident that the team will do well in South Africa. The national under-17 netball team is gearing up to compete in the 2017 Netball Quad Series in Durban, South Africa, at the end of January.

    The netball challenge is an iconic event in African netball, with the world's top four netball teams competing. This competition pits South Africa's Spar Proteas, the England Roses, New Zealand's Silver Ferns and the Australian Diamonds against each other to be crowned champions as part of the Vitality Netball International Series.

    The Namibian team is an invitational team at this year's challenge and will compete in the youth category against U-17 teams from South Africa.

    Namibia was invited to the competition after winning gold at the Confederation of Schools Sport Associations of Southern Africa Ball Games that was held in Botswana in 2016.

    Speaking to Nampa on Thursday, Natasha Thakur, the team's assistant coach, said they would have a four-day training session before travelling to Durban next week due to financial constraints because the trip was not budgeted for.

    “Players will be paying for themselves but I am confident the team will compete well despite the few days of training because these players know each other well,” she said.

    Thakur said the games would give the players much-needed exposure.

    Last year, they competed in a netball competition in South Africa and became the first Namibian youth netball team to win a medal in South Africa.

    The Namibian team will travel to South Africa on 24 January. Their first game will be on 26 January.



    NAMPA

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    Rivaldo agrees to join Barcelona's Legends projectRivaldo agrees to join Barcelona's Legends project Former FIFA World Player of the Year Rivaldo has agreed to act as a global ambassador for his former club Barcelona.

    The 44-year-old Brazilian discussed his role with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu during a visit to Camp Nou on Tuesday.

    “I am always happy to be back at the Camp Nou,” Rivaldo was quoted as saying by the Brazilian news service Uol Esporte.

    In a statement on their official website, Barcelona said Rivaldo had been offered the chance to be a part of the FCB Legends squad, which will play friendlies around the world to promote the club's brand.

    “I made history in my five years [here],” Rivaldo said. “The club is always in my heart. I told the president that I am available for the club and that I can play. I feel good. I train every day and I'll be ready for matches that Barcelona play around the world.”

    Rivaldo, a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, represented Barcelona from 1997 to 2002. He won two La Liga championships, a European Super Cup, a Copa del Rey and was voted FIFA World Player of the Year in 1999.

    NAMPA / XINHUA

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    Ibrahimovic 'invaluable', says RashfordIbrahimovic 'invaluable', says Rashford The experience of playing and practising with Zlatan Ibrahimovic has proved invaluable for the young Manchester United players, who should make the most of the charismatic striker's presence at Old Trafford, according to teammate Marcus Rashford.

    Ibrahimovic, who joined on a free transfer in July, has had a flying start to his United career and, with 14 Premier League goals, the 35-year-old is the joint top scorer, along with Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea's Diego Costa.

    “For the young players to see his character and the way he approaches every game is invaluable. Some players can't bring that when they move clubs,” Rashford told British media.

    “We have to try to learn from him while he is here and take what we can from his game.”

    The 19-year-old also praised the influence of captain Wayne Rooney.

    “Zlatan and Rooney are the two that stand out. I grew up watching Rooney play week in, week out at Old Trafford, so those are the two that you look at and try to emulate,” he added.

    United are sixth in the league, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea after 21 games, and they travel to face ninth-placed Stoke City on Saturday.

    NAMPA / REUTERS

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    Els backs Tiger's latest comebackEls backs Tiger's latest comebackThere is still belief in Woods Tiger Woods has received great support from the golf world after years of frustration. Four-time major winner Ernie Els believes age is no barrier to success for Tiger Woods as the American great embarks on his latest comeback attempt after crippling injuries have blighted his last three seasons.

    Woods experienced mixed results on his return to action after 15 months out in December but the 41-year-old 14-times major winner has committed to a busy schedule, starting at next week's Farmers Insurance Open, as he targets a return to full-time play.

    “I am in my late 40s and he is just getting into them. There have been a few cases where we have won majors in our 40s, it doesn't happen that often but it does happen,” Els, who was 42 when he won the 2012 British Open, told reporters on Wednesday.

    “If players like me, Darren Clarke and Mark O'Meara won (majors) in our 40s, surely Tiger thinks he can do it to. I am sure it's on his agenda,” the South African added as he prepares for this week's Singapore Open.

    “Mentally, he is as strong as anybody but he needs to find some momentum at his favourite events and if he gets that, he can start believing again. I would love to see him play like he did back in the 90s, but I am not sure that is going to happen.”

    Els also believes golf has benefited greatly from Woods's rise to prominence since the American turned professional in 1996 and more regular appearances in a landmark anniversary year would only pique interest among fans and the media further.

    “It's been 20 years since he won his first major at the Masters and it's quite amazing what he has achieved,” Els added.

    “He has won 14 majors in that span and he was injured for at least three or four of those seasons, so it's really a major for every year he has been healthy as a professional. That's incredible.

    “We would not be playing for the money we play for if it wasn't for Tiger, so we have to thank him for that, for what he has done for the game and it can only be good if he plays well.”

    The South African added that with golf boasting a bumper crop of top players at their peak, such as Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, an in-form Woods would only add more value to the circuit.

    “There's a lot of excellent players out there, some of them playing great golf, so it will be great to see if Tiger can get back in the mix at some of the big events and create even more of a buzz,” Els said.

    NAMPA / REUTERS

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    Call for collaboration in diamond sectorCall for collaboration in diamond sector Speaking at a reception for customers of its Global Sightholder Sales business during the first Sight of 2017, Bruce Cleaver, De Beers' group chief executive officer highlighted the importance of all parts of the diamond sector working together, following the unpredictable events of a volatile year in 2016.

    Commenting on the value of different parts of the diamond pipeline finding ways to work together more effectively, Cleaver said: “We have made some good steps in this direction, with greater collaboration across the value chain to stimulate demand, to share industry insight and to support pipeline efficiency. But we must continue on this path and maximise the impact of our combined efforts to grow industry value.”

    Cleaver said, however, that it was vital for all parts of the value chain to benefit from industry progress, noting that: “None of us in the diamond industry can succeed sustainably in isolation. We must find ways to progress together, and we must continue to view challenges and opportunities from each other's perspectives.”

    Highlighting areas of opportunity for the sector, Cleaver said: “With the industry's medium- to long-term fundamentals being so positive, clearly there is opportunity for investing in financially robust and transparent diamond businesses.

    “The commercial environment in which we operate is changing rapidly and if we can find ways to compete more effectively in this evolving environment, then the change becomes a great opportunity.”

    Alongside making a commitment for De Beers to continue its investment in both proprietary and category-based consumer marketing activities, Cleaver went on to say that De Beers would launch a new and improved diamond verification instrument later in the year to help maintain trade and consumer confidence.

    “Our new Automated Melee Screening instrument, the AMS2, will be a significant leap forward in the technological response to product integrity challenges and we believe the AMS2 will play a major role in bolstering confidence across the value chain.”





    STAFF REPORTER

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    Shoprite shows exceptional growthShoprite shows exceptional growthAnalyst says group well positioned Africa's largest food retailer reported a double-digit increase in sales in the second half of 2016. The Shoprite Group reported excellent growth for the six months to December 2016, increasing turnover by 14% from N$62.5 billion to N$71.3 billion unaudited results show.

    The Group's non-South African supermarkets recorded sales growth of 32.3% assisted by higher inflation and achieved in the face of low commodity prices and forex shortages in certain countries. Growth on a like-for-like basis was 14.2%.

    Taken at constant currencies, sales grew by 51.7%.

    Last year may have been a difficult year for retail in Africa but consumers still came in droves to Shoprite, which reported double-digit sales growth on the continent in the six months to December.

    In a welcome surprise, the group's non-South African supermarkets recorded sales growth of 32.2%, a result that was achieved in the face of low commodity prices and forex shortages in certain countries.

    Africa's largest food retailer reported a 10.7% increase in sales from its local operations supported by good festive trading.

    Growth on a like-for-like basis was 7.4% with internal inflation averaging 7.4% for the period.

    Absa Wealth & Investment Management analyst Chris Gilmour said Shoprite had done remarkably well outside of SA.

    “This speaks well about how well positioned they are in the rest of Africa. It's an outstanding result,” he said.

    Overall, non-South African supermarket growth on a like-for-like basis was 14.2%. Taken at constant currencies, sales grew 51.7%.

    Cratos Wealth senior analyst Ron Klipin said Shoprite had shown consistent strength and its competitors would be hard-pressed to produce better numbers.

    “Africa was the star performer; those operations are looking very good indeed. Furniture looks strong as well despite the National Credit Act having had some impact on that sector.

    “I would say its numbers look well ahead of its peers,” Klipin said.

    Shoprite's core market is the lower-income consumer.

    Shoprite said its furniture division grew sales 10% for the period.

    The other operating segments had achieved growth of 10.5%, mainly driven by the OK Franchise division's strong performance, the company said.

    These will be the last results with Whitey Basson at the helm. Basson retired at the end of 2016.

    New CEO of the group, Pieter Engelbrecht, is a mere 18 days into the top job.

    The responsibility now falls on him and his management team to flesh out a possible deal with Steinhoff.

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    Langer Heinrich production declinesLanger Heinrich production declines Uranium miner Paladin Energy has reported a 7% decline in uranium oxide production at its Langer Heinrich mine during the three months to December.

    The Langer Heinrich mine produced 1.2 million pounds of uranium oxide during the December quarter, with the volume of ore milled down 5% on the last quarter, while the average plant feed grade also decreased by 2% over the September quarter.

    Total uranium sales during the three months under review reached 1.52 million pounds of uranium oxide, with average selling prices of US$26.26 per pound, generating gross sales revenues of $40.1 million. This was a 166% increase over the previous quarter's revenue, as spot prices increased from the US$19.72 per pound recorded in the September quarter.

    Paladin told shareholders that lower uranium sales of between 700 000 pounds and 800 000 pounds are expected in the March quarter, due to the timing of deliveries under a major contract.

    The Kayelekera mine, in Malawi, remained under care and maintenance during the quarter under review.

    MINING WEEKLY

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    Team Namibia project to assist SMEsTeam Namibia project to assist SMEs Team Namibia will soon embark on an 18-month business development project to increase the production and trade capacities of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

    In an interview with Nampa on Tuesday, Team Namibia marketing officer Faith Arnat said the project targeted micro and small entrepreneurs with promising business ideas. The formal or informal businesses must be located in Katutura, Khomasdal or Otjomuise.

    She said Team Namibia wanted to assist beneficiaries in identifying competitive and viable business opportunities, with an emphasis on mobilising local funding and operational business management.

    “The project is aimed at helping Team Namibia achieve its mandate of increasing the consumption of local products and services by investing in the quality output of Namibia's SMEs and ultimately enhance our country's capacity.”

    Arnat said the project was a pilot with a purely practical and success-oriented concept that addressed existing challenges of small businesses in informal settlements.

    Selected beneficiaries will participate in a knowhow transfer programme that will consist of workshops and practical mentoring at their existing setups where they will be expected to apply the business knowledge gained.

    Arnat said 25 beneficiaries would be selected. Application forms are available at municipal offices in Katutura. Applications close on 31 January.

    The project is funded by the embassy of Finland to the tune of N$1.9 million.

    “The project's funding by entities such as the embassy of Finland will aid in developing Namibia's SME sector and the next generation of business leaders,” Arnat said.

    She encouraged Team Namibia's members to meet their financial obligations to the organisation.

    NAMPA

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    Deep cut in construction spendingDeep cut in construction spendingBuilding plans of N$108m approved Stockbroking firm IJG Securities forecasts a contraction in construction activities for 2017. STAFF REPORTER



    A total of 131 building plans were approved in Windhoek in December, with a value of N$108.2 million.

    For the 2016 calendar year the City of Windhoek approved 1 872 building plans, well below the 2 467 plans approved in 2015. Cumulatively 2016 witnessed the approval of N$1.95 billion worth of plans, also well below the 2015 figure of N$2.2 billion, according to IJG Securities.

    “The 12-month cumulative number of building plans approved ticked up slightly at the end of 2016. On a 12-month cumulative basis, 1 872 building plans were approved, 24.1% less than the same measure for December 2015.

    “This figure has nearly halved from the peak in September 2013 to lows last seen in 1997. As a leading indicator for economic activity in the country this reinforces our view that we will see negative economic growth for the 2016 reporting period,” said IJG.

    “A lack of serviceable land has often been cited as the reason for the slowdown in building plans. The municipality has indicated that there is a high demand for land, but little land left around Windhoek that can be developed.

    “As a result, additions to existing property have exceeded new construction fourfold. However, the slowdown in additions points to less potential value in additions or possibly saturation of the available space,” said IJG.

    “At the beginning of 2016, the outlook for construction was relatively positive due to several large government projects expected to commence within the year. We revised this view several times during 2016, and our suspicions were confirmed at the most recent midterm budget. Government has cut both the development and operational budgets quite aggressively,” the stockbroking firm said.

    “Spending on construction was cut by a material N$1.5 billion in this financial year alone and a moratorium has been placed on all government construction projects going forward. This should have a negative effect on economic activity in general, but the construction sector in particular. Thus, we continue to forecast a contraction in the construction industry for 2017,” IJG concluded.

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    Public warned against fake moneyPublic warned against fake money The Bank of Namibia has become aware of a video circulating on social media in which three suspects are arrested by the police in connection with counterfeit banknotes.

    In the video, the three suspects are seen using a photocopier to replicate N$200 and N$100 notes. The police have confirmed the authenticity of the video.

    Said the central bank: “The three male Namibian suspects were caught red-handed at one of the suspects' corrugated-iron shack in Oshitenda, Katutura, where they were reproducing the counterfeited banknotes.

    “A tipoff from the public led the police to the suspects. Consequently, the suspects were arrested last week Wednesday and appeared in court on Thursday, 12 January 2017 in connection with contravening Section 25 of the Bank of Namibia Act, read together with the Prevention of Counterfeit Currency Act (16) of 1965.”

    The face value of the counterfeit money was N$28 100. Only three genuine banknotes were found at the scene. All of the fake notes were confiscated.

    “As far as can be ascertained, no financial loss has been incurred by any individual or institution. Most importantly, none of the security features which appear on the Namibian banknotes have been reproduced on the counterfeited banknotes,” the central bank said.

    “Members of the public are once again reminded to follow the three basic steps in checking the security features on banknotes. Take a careful look at the overall colours, the portraits and the serial numbers and lift the banknotes up to the light and discover perfect see-through features and watermarks.

    “Flip the banknotes to check for colour-changing, dynamic features, and for glossy prints. Check the multi-coloured security thread on the reverse. Feel the unique banknote touch and raised prints by running your fingers on both sides of the banknotes, especially on the words BANK OF NAMIBIA and the Braille dots for visually impaired people.”

    STAFF REPORTER

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  • 01/18/17--14:00: GIPF mum on MTC purchase
  • GIPF mum on MTC purchaseGIPF mum on MTC purchaseFinancing remains unclear The government has not yet approached the state pension fund in connection with financing its planned purchase of a 34% stake in MTC. The government has not yet approached the Government Institutions Pension Fund as possible financier of its planned purchase of a 34% stake in MTC.

    Although the government has not made any announcement, the GIPF's name came up several times last year when news of the planned purchase first broke.

    Responding to a query this week, GIPF chief executive officer David Nuyoma said: “No negotiations have taken place between GIPF and the government or Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holding (NPTH) regarding the purchasing of MTC shares, therefore the fund has no comment on this matter.”

    Early in December, finance minister Calle Schlettwein said if the GIPF would fund the acquisition, the 34% stake would be “warehoused” by the fund “The shares will be warehoused by the GIPF. MTC is a well-managed company,” he said, alluding to the government's liquidity problems. The minister of public enterprises, Leon Jooste, said in December regarding the planned purchase: “Options have not been finalised on how to finance this transaction, obviously you can go to the commercial banks or whatever, with the GIPF being an option.”

    Information minister Tjekero Tweya announced the government's intent to purchase the remaining 34% stake held in MTC early in December. He said at the time: “The government, through NPTH, reserves the right to retain ownership of the full 100% of MTC until further cabinet approval.”

    Currently 66% of MTC is owned by the government through telecommunications holding company NPTH. The remaining 34% stake has changed hands several times, starting with Swedish-backed entities Telia and Swefund.

    In 2006, Portugal Telecom purchased the 34% stake in MTC, paving the way for the entry of current managing director Miguel Giraldes. Portugal Telecom has since also exited, making way for Brazilian firm SAMBA.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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