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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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    Fiscal consolidation crucial, analysts sayFiscal consolidation crucial, analysts sayJunk status can be avoided Two local economists talk about Namibia's credit rating and their expectations of economic growth this year. In light of Swapo's elective conference slated for later this year, Namibian Sun asked economist Klaus Schade of the Economic Association of Namibia and PSG equity strategist Eloise du Plessis whether the temptation to open the fiscal taps would prove too much for the treasury.

    Both believe that fiscal consolidation is crucial in view of ratings agencies Moody's and Fitch's assessment of the country's position. In their reviews issued last year, both revised their outlooks from stable to negative, but kept their ratings of sovereign debt at Baa3 and BBB- respectively.

    “Government is committed to fiscal consolidation in order to reduce the budget deficit and the public debt to gross domestic product ratio. The consolidation is inevitable in order to avoid a downgrading of Namibia by international ratings agencies to below investment rating or junk status,” says Schade.

    He believes that the fiscal adjustments will put the construction sector under pressure. The commissioning of three new mines and buildings by the government and the private sector spurred on growth.

    “The necessary adjustments to the national budget will put pressure on the construction sector in particular. The sector has performed extremely well over the past few years owing to private- and public-sector investments.

    “The developments of the new mines (Tschudi copper mine, B2Gold mine, Husab Uranium mine) and other substantial private-sector investments have been completed. Combined with the budget cuts this will result in a contraction of the construction sector and in retrenchments,” Schade says.

    Regarding growth, he is not too optimistic. “Overall, economic growth will remain sluggish this year. However, there remain a number of uncertainties on the global level concerning the policies the Trump administration in the USA will pursue and the course the Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union's 27 [member states] will take.”

    Du Plessis agrees, saying: “Moody's says it is concerned about the risk of the intended changes to the budget not being followed. The rating agency states that its previous stable outlook was based on the assumption that the government would stabilise the public debt ratio at below 40% of Gross Domestic Product. In light of this, it is crucial that the Ministry of Finance continue to run a tight budget.”

    She adds: “Namibia can keep its rating if the debt levels stabilise and lower, which is dependent on higher tax revenues and growth. A lot of this is determined by the commodity cycle. We have seen some commodities recover, but the price of uranium, on which the contribution of Husab to GDP growth hinges, is still low.”

    OGONE TLHAGE

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  • 01/19/17--14:00: Gambian crisis deepens
  • Gambian crisis deepensGambian crisis deepensJammeh silent on any departure While president-elect Adama Barrow has tweeted that Jammeh's time is over, Jammeh has not made any move to depart. Yesterday morning the Twitter world woke up to the following tweet from Gambian president-elect Adama Barrow: “My dearest Gambians — the presidency of Yahya Jammeh is officially over. The new era of Gambia is here at last.”

    But Jammeh is going nowhere. After more than two decades in power, he faced the prospect of a military intervention by regional forces, as the man who once pledged to rule the West African nation for a billion years clung to power.

    A few minutes after a midnight deadline set by the West African regional bloc to step down, there was no word from Jammeh.

    Earlier, a military commander with the regional bloc known as Ecowas announced that troops were positioning along Gambia's borders.

    “The mandate of the president is finished at midnight,” declared Seydou Maiga Moro, speaking on Senegalese radio station RFM on Wednesday. “All the troops are already in place,” he added, saying they were merely waiting to see whether Jammeh would acquiesce to international pressure to cede power to President-elect Adama Barrow.

    As midnight approached, Jammeh met with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on the crisis. The Mauritanian plane left Gambia shortly before midnight.



    Special charter flights

    Thousands of Gambians have fled the country, including some former cabinet ministers who resigned in recent days. Hundreds of foreign tourists were evacuating on special charter flights, though some continued to relax poolside despite the political turmoil. Gambia is a popular beach destination in winter, especially for tourists from Britain, the former colonial power.

    The downtown area of the Gambian capital, Banjul, was empty late on Wednesday, with all shops closed. But there was no visible military presence apart from a checkpoint at the entrance to the city, despite the threat of incoming forces.

    In another sign of the international pressure, Nigeria confirmed a warship was heading toward Gambia for “training,” and RFM radio reported that Nigerian military equipment had begun arriving in Dakar in advance of the midnight deadline. Ghana also has pledged to contribute militarily.



    Barrow's inauguration

    The regional bloc was seeking the UN Security Council's endorsement of its “all necessary measures” to remove Jammeh.

    “There is a sense that the whole situation rests in the hands of one person, and it's up to that person, the outgoing president of the Gambia, to draw the right conclusions,” said Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog, the current council president.

    Jammeh, who first seized power in a 1994 coup, has insisted that his rule was ordained by Allah. He initially conceded defeat after the December vote, but after reports emerged suggesting he could face criminal charges linked to his rule, he reversed himself a week later.

    The opposition vowed on Wednesday to go ahead with Barrow's inauguration, though there were no signs of preparation at the Banjul stadium where it was supposed to be held. It was unclear whether Barrow would take the oath at a Gambian Embassy outside the country or if he would return.



    Peaceful change

    “Those who resist peaceful change, effective 12 midnight tonight, shall face definite consequences, to their peril,” said Mai Ahmad Fatty, Barrow's special adviser, in a Facebook post on Wednesday in which he urged Gambians to stay indoors. “Anyone with firearms tonight shall be deemed a rebel, and will certainly become a legitimate target.”

    As other longtime West African strongmen have died or been forced to step down in recent years, Jammeh has remained a rare exception — even launching a campaign to anoint himself “King of Gambia.”

    In 2007, he claimed to have developed a cure for Aids that involved a herbal body rub and bananas. Alarming public health experts, he insisted Aids sufferers stop taking antiretroviral medications.

    Two years later, his government rounded up nearly 1 000 people it accused of being witches, forcing them to drink a hallucinogen that caused diarrhea and vomiting. Two people died, according to Amnesty International. More recently, Jammeh seemed bent on increasing Gambia's isolation on the world stage. In 2013 he exited the Commonwealth, a group made up mostly of former British colonies, branding it a “neo-colonial institution.”

    He also issued increasingly virulent statements against sexual minorities, vowing to slit the throats of gay men and saying the LGBT acronym should stand for “leprosy, gonorrhoea, bacteria and tuberculosis.” And in October, Jammeh said Gambia would leave the International Criminal Court, which he dismissed as the “International Caucasian Court.”

    A timeline of the Gambian crisis:

    Jammeh concedes defeat

    December 1: Gambians vote.

    A day later the electoral commission announces that Barrow has won, to scenes of jubilation on the streets.

    Jammeh concedes defeat, congratulating Barrow for his “clear victory”, adding: “I wish him all the best and I wish all Gambians the best.”

    December 5: Gambian opposition leader Ousainou Darboe, who was jailed in July for taking part in a protest, is freed on bail with 18 others. In the following days some 40 other members of the opposition are also freed.

    December 6: The electoral commission says that Barrow has won the election more narrowly than originally thought, and with a lower turnout. He garnered 43.2% and Jammeh 39.6% of the vote. Third party candidate Mama Kandeh took 17.1%. December 9: Jammeh announces he has changed his mind, saying: “In the same way that I accepted the results faithfully believing that the Independent Electoral Commission was independent and honest and reliable, I hereby reject the results in totality.”

    December 13: Ecowas heads of state are sent to Gambia, but do not manage to persuade Jammeh to acknowledge his defeat. A new mission takes place a month later.

    December 31 Jammeh accuses Ecowas of declaring “war”.

    January 4, 2017: The army chief reaffirms his loyalty to Jammeh.

    January 9: Jammeh fires 12 ambassadors after they called for him to step aside. Several ministers have since been fired or resigned.

    January 10: The Gambia's chief Supreme Court justice says Jammeh's legal challenge against the result will not be heard for several months.

    January 13: The African Union (AU) urges Jammeh to respect the results and quit power peacefully, warning of “serious consequences”. It says it will not recognise him “as of 19 January 2017”.

    January 15: Senegalese President Macky Sall announces that he has agreed to “welcome Gambian president-elect Adama Barrow in Dakar until his inauguration,” on January 19. January 16: The Gambia's top judge pulls out of hearing a bid by Jammeh to halt the inauguration.

    January 17: Jammeh declares a state of emergency, saying foreign powers had created an “unwarranted hostile atmosphere, threatening the sovereignty, peace, security and stability of the country”.

    January 18: The Senegalese army says it is ready to intervene in Gambia if there is no solution to the crisis. Senegal asks the UN Security Council to approval any Ecowas military action in The Gambia to force Jammeh to cede power.

    – Additional reporting by

    Nampa/AP

    NAMPA/AFP

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  • 01/19/17--14:00: Zim cops raking it in
  • Zim cops raking it inZim cops raking it in Zimbabwe's police officers are raking in about N$800.6 million from roadblock fines each year - and it's making them extremely unpopular.

    ...And that doesn't include bribes.

    The figure is all the more significant given Zimbabwe's small population of around 14 million.

    The private News Day on Wednesday quoted top home affairs official Melusi Matshiya confirming the figure and the fact that roadblock fees are retained for use by the police force and other departments in the ministry including the immigration department.

    He said all the money collected was “properly accounted for”. Zimbabwe's police demand fines are paid on the spot, despite the current cash shortages. Locals complain that police sometimes pre-set speed cameras and extort fines for nebulous offences like not having a long enough piece of reflective tape along the side of a cab or having a dirty car.

    By way of comparison, the UK was reported in 2014 to have amassed a total of N$746 million from speeding fines over a four-year period, according to the Telegraph.

    The state ZBC broadcaster said on Tuesday that police will soon have swipe machines at roadblocks so that fines can be paid with a bank card.



    NEWS24

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    Down memory lane to better daysDown memory lane to better days Nothing beats the good old days. Oh yes, back then life was simple with fewer worries. In fact, the only worries our parents had back then were whether it would rain enough to let the grass grow.?\, like many others of my generation and the generations before me, was raised by a strict granny, whose idea of fun was talking out loud to herself. Granny would talk so loud that one would think she was having an argument with herself - waving her hands in the air and making fist gestures?Yeah, I was raised by the old-school type of granny who would first give you five of her best lashes before asking questions. If you land in trouble; like steal something from the neighbours - granny would first beat you, and then hand you over to the neighbour to do the same.?I never quite understood how she could always ask visitors to spank us on her behalf. She did the same to my younger brother one day after he refused to finish his delicious dish of pap en dikmelk.?Granny asked the male visitor to teach the boy a lesson, at which the man grabbed my brother by the ankles and beat the living hell out of him. That was the last time granny ever asked someone to deal with that boy for her.?I was not exactly skilled at many of the household chores at the village. For instance, I couldn't span a donkey cart even if my grandfather was standing right behind me. For a young Herero man, that is Morse code for – you are in big trouble – when the old man stands right behind you and watches your every move.?Those damn donkeys were stubborn - you try and harness them and all they do is look at you with blank eyes as if you are speaking Greek! My grandfather would, of course, always come to the rescue and give me one of those you city boys are good for nothing speeches.?Eish... it was hard fitting in; back in the city I didn't quite belong as I was not exactly 'thug' material. Whenever we went out hunting for girls, my friends would always look cooler than me - even if I was wearing a clean and well-pressed pair of pants. Their manner of speaking just seemed to impress the ladies more - and it wasn't even real English!In the village, I wasn't exactly God's gift to farming either! Grandpa, being the old-fashioned man he is, never believed in changing for the better.?For instance, I never quite got the rationale behind Grandpa's philosophy of never allowing us to swim in the pans on some days. Well, I couldn't swim even if my life depended on it, but that is a story for another day altogether. Fellas, I grew up in the Omaheke Region - the largest concentration of water in that region is the Okombepera village dam!Grandpa would look at the sky and the shadows and just decide that it was not going to be a good day for swimming. What Grandpa knew of swimming was as fatal as a black mamba's bite! When someone stays in the village for long, you get to appreciate the finer things in life - like eventually getting to read the 'Did you Know' on the back of those Chappies bubblegum wrappers.?In fact, Grandpa would never share those Chappies with anyone. Whenever we asked him why he didn't want to share, he would say: You kids have just eaten a whole plate of pap and omaere. You are not hungry at all - go and play! It didn't help even when we tried explaining that the bubblegum was not meant to satisfy a person's hunger, but was merely for pleasure. Eish, those were the days!Whenever I see these dudes driving posh cars and living in upmarket suburbs because they hate Katutura, Mondesa or Kuisebmond, I always wonder if they never had grandparents like mine. I always say it is good to work your way out of poverty and climb the corporate ladder, but eliminating such precious memories from your history is fatal.?

    Let's raise our glasses to the memories of yesterday.

    Until then…

    tjatindi@gmail.com

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  • 01/19/17--14:00: Austerity measures bite
  • Austerity measures biteAusterity measures bite“Money isn't the most important thing in life, but it is reasonably close to oxygen on the 'gotta have it scale' scale”.

    This is according to American author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. In reality, doctors and nurses understand better the “gotta have it” oxygen principle that saves lives. Today, the country finds itself grappling to be frugal but this frugality is coming with serious consequences.

    The media has reported in stories now and again about budget cuts in government ministries - some of which may prove to be catastrophic. Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga recently aired his concerns about budget cuts on the Namibian police force and the subsequent dire consequences that will derail the force's mandate and put law and order on tenterhooks.

    Worrying, is the sectors that the state's cost cutting axe has chopped. State assistance given to accused persons by appointed lawyers has not been paid and the lawyers are biting the bullet.

    Isn't that eroding the justice delivery system in this country? In recent years, government has gone all out to improve the education system and even went a step further by offering free primary and secondary education, a decision that was applauded. But according to the education ministry permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp, the red flags are up and she said in recent media reports that parents must get ready to assist.

    With the axe wielding above and descending upon critical government departments, one needs to ask if the Ministry of Poverty Eradication is ever going to be able to deliver on its mandate. At Koes in the deep south of Namibia, vitamin pills are now disbursed wrapped in pieces of paper because there is no packaging. And they are disbursed for flu as there is no Panado.

    Foreign nurses who only speak English are employed in areas where the patients and the nurses do not understand one another. How then do we serve and save the lives of these mostly remote-based citizens? As the financial situation seems to be on a definite path to the intensive care unit, the government needs to find its financial oxygen to save this nation. And quickly too.

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  • 01/19/17--14:00: N$5.8m theft case postponed
  • N$5.8m theft case postponedN$5.8m theft case postponedAccused defrauded Timbercity since 2009 The matter of Peter Kohler, a South African national accused of millions in fraud will continue on 6 February. The trial of the South African national who allegedly stole N$5.8 million from his Namibian employer Pennypinchers Timbercity is still not ready.

    The defence lawyer Miese Tjituri, appearing on behalf of Peter Tyran Kohler, is expected to file answering statements on the state's allegations on Thursday next week while the case was postponed to 6 February for further case management.

    Kohler is facing 218 fraud charges or alternative counts of theft in the Windhoek High Court.

    He allegedly committed this offence while he was employed by the Gunnar Jensen Building Materials Trust trading as Pennypinchers Timbercity during the period of 23 March 2009 to 7 February 2013 as the store accountant.

    He was then employed by the Chris Eloff Building Materials Trust trading as Ongwediva Pennypinchers Timbercity as the store operator (manager) from 8 March 2013 until 10 September 2015 from where he continued to perform his store accountant duties in Windhoek until 30 September 2013.

    According to the summary of substantial facts, at all material times he was, among others, tasked with the supervision of all accounting, financial, human resource, administrative and relevant compliance duties relating to Pennypinchers Timbercity Windhoek located in the Southern Industrial Area, as well as the Ongwediva Pennypinchers Timbercity, either through cheques, cash or in the form of electronic fund transfers and the accurate, complete and timeous recording and reporting thereof.

    His financial responsibilities included among others the capturing and authorisation of bona fide company expense payments.

    The accused had the user rights to capture and authorise electronic fund transfers from the Pennypinchers Timbercity Windhoek account at FNB and Ongwediva Pennypinchers Timbercity bank account, also at FNB.

    It is said that he during the period 9 October 2009 to 9 July 2015 used his position at Pennypinchers Timbercity to unlawfully and fraudulently transfer through the company accounts at FNB the amount of N$5.8 million to either one of his personal bank accounts at Bank Windhoek and ABSA, which monies he stole.

    Kohler is now facing charges of fraud (alternatively theft), following his arrest on 10 September 2015. The state alleges that he defrauded the company by transferring money into his personal account instead of the company's account.

    He is currently in custody after he was denied bail due to the fact that he is a foreign national facing a fraud case involving millions, therefore the risk of absconding exists.

    During his bail hearing almost two years ago, Kohler testified that he was married with three children and came to Namibia six years ago.

    The state is represented by Advocate Antonia Verhoef with Judge Christie Liebenberg presiding.



    FRED GOEIEMAN

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    Chinese with 18 rhino horns pleads guiltyChinese with 18 rhino horns pleads guilty The Chinese national, who smuggled 18 rhino horns through the Hosea Kutako International Airport and was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, has pleaded guilty to all charges against him.

    Ye Zhiwei, 28, appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court in South Africa this week for dealing in rhino horn under the Endangered Species Act and will appear on 10 February again for sentencing.

    Ye was arrested at the airport after he departed from Windhoek on 23 November at 06:40.

    He was travelling in transit from Namibia on board a South African Airways flight to Hong Kong when the Hawks received an anonymous tip-off and discovered the rhino horns hidden in his luggage.

    The rhino horns were tightly wrapped in industrial cling wrap.

    The rhino horns weighed 43kg and were valued at around N$6.6 million.

    Only a few days after the arrest of Ye, a full-scale investigation was launched into activities at Hosea Kutako International Airport.

    The probe was ordered after it was discovered that the 18 rhino horns found in the possession of Ye had in fact been detected by scanners at the Namibian airport.

    This resulted in the arrest of a police Sergeant, Pendapala Abraham Iitula, 42, who was stationed at the scanners on the day and time that Ye was allowed to pass through with his luggage at Hosea Kutako International Airport and board the flight to Johannesburg. Iitula has appeared before the Katutura Magistrate's Court on a charge of defeating and obstructing the course of justice.

    He was granted bail of N$2 000 and the case was postponed to 3 February.

    Namibian police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga recently said that Zhiwei was actually invited by members of the Chinese business community to visit Namibia.



    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Managers unsettle factory workersManagers unsettle factory workersFishing workers demand replacement of bosses Managers at Embwinda Fishing in Walvis Bay are under fire for what workers say is disrespect and abuse. Workers from Embwinda Fishing, formerly known as Cadilu Fishing, handed over a petition to their management voicing their grievances against two of the company's employees.

    They are accusing their human resources manager Rosina Moshoehoe of “not respecting and listening to the workers grievances”.

    “Since Moshoeshoe was appointed as HR manager, many employees have been dismissed - even for offences which do not carry a penalty of dismissal.”

    The workers are also accusing her of nepotism.

    “We are demanding that vacancies be first advertised internally and that all workers must have the right to apply for the said advertisements. We also demand that recruitment for vacancies should be done through affirmative action procedures.”

    “She is always threatening workers and she also chases workers from her office, in front of shop stewards. We don't want to work with Moshoehoe - we want to work with someone who has a heart and was humble like our former HR manager.”

    The workers are also up in arms about Moshoehoe's dress code, accusing her of dressing like “she at home or going to a club”.

    They are demanding that she starts wearing 'corporate clothes'.

    In the petition, they also voiced their grievances against Miguel Antonio, operations manager at the company.

    He apparently also does not respect the workers and does not listen to their complaints.

    “We are working under pressure as he reduced the employees in the factory. Here one person is doing the work of four people. He refuses us to work overtime, and this causes the fish to rot in the chillers. This fish is then used for fishmeal.”

    “Nightshift workers' shifts have been cut short. These workers work short hours or sometimes they don't work at all. These types of arrangements don't promote decent work, while there is enough work for everyone. Fish then gets rotten and then goes for fishmeal.”

    “We need more workers in the factory as we are under tremendous pressure. It is also unfair to pay some employees performance bonuses while others do not receive anything.”

    They are saying they do not want to work with either Moshoehoe or Antonio.

    They are also demanding that the company appoint an employee instead of a labour consultant to chair disciplinary hearings.

    Moshoehoe does not wish to comment on the matter and calls Antonio remained unanswered.



    LEANDREA LOUW

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    Namcol disappointed with Grade 12 resultsNamcol disappointed with Grade 12 results The Namibia College of Open Learning says it is generally happy with the performance of the 2016 Grade 10 examination results, but it has expressed disappointment with the performance of the Grade 12 learners.

    Addressing journalists yesterday, Namcol director Heroldt Murangi said the institution's graded entries at D grade and above increased from 22.3% to 27.1% which is an increase of 4.5%. C-grade and above increased from 7.3% in 2015 to 8.7% in 2016 for the Junior Secondary Certificate.

    However, the National Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) results show a different picture. “We are happy to inform the nation that we were very content with the JSC results, but unfortunately not excited about our Grade 12 results,” said Murangi.

    “Our NSSC results show a poor performance at all grades and ranges A*-G.” Murangi attributed the poor performance by the NSSC candidates to learners enrolling for subjects but not turning up for the exam. According to the director, some learners do not sit for some of their examination papers and this causes incomplete results and poor performance.

    The lack of support from parents has also been cited as a contributing factor.

    Meanwhile, the college also introduced block tuition that will replace the current face-to-face sessions at selected centres countrywide.





    MICHAEL KAYUNDE

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    Learners ditch controversial schoolLearners ditch controversial school About 200 learners have left the Mennonite Brethren Community School at Omafo and only 14 learners have been enrolled in pre-primary for the current academic year.

    It is reported that a lack of trust followed the arrest of the founder 57-year-old Pedro Marcelino Moussongela on charges of human trafficking, rape and assault. Moussongela remains in custody after the Ondangwa Magistrate's Court on 9 January postponed his bail hearing to 8 February due to matters beyond the court's control. The number of learners has decreased sharply but the ministry of education has approved the school's registration as a centre for the junior secondary certificate examination.

    The school's acting principal Ngoie-A-Ngoie told Namibian Sun that by Tuesday the school had enrolled 449 learners from pre-primary to Grade 10, and registration was continuing.

    In October Moussongela told the court that his schools are collapsing as parents are taking their children away and government has withdrawn its subsidy.

    He said that the Mennonite Brethren Community School at Omafo has over 600 learners and 64 staff members. “This year's pre-primary enrolment is very disappointing. We used to have two classes, but this year the number is not even half a class.

    The number of Grade 1 learners has also been reduced to one class. Parents are discouraged and have taken away their children,” Ngoie said. He said that the ministry of education approved Grade 10 registration last year and this year is the first year they will write these examinations. He said they have two Grade 10 classes consisting of 55 learners.

    “This is the most difficult moment for us. Moussongela as a visionary leader and founder of the school is needed the most to lead the school to achieve good results for Grade 10.

    “I do not have the capacity to do everything the school needs,” he said.





    ILENI NANDJATO

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    Child-molesting teacher quitsChild-molesting teacher quits A male teacher who was recently found guilty of indecently assaulting a grade 9 pupil in the Oshikoto Region is no longer in the employ of the ministry of education.

    Moses Shingo (56), who was employed as a teacher at Otjikoto Secondary School in Tsumeb, tendered his resignation on 17 January, according to education permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp.

    In December, Shingo pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault after he had requested that a grade 9 pupil unbutton her shirt, before proceeding to remove the girl's breast from her bra.

    He is also accused of fondling her nipple. He apparently wanted to see if the girl was pregnant.

    He was fined N$3 000 by Tsumeb Magistrate David Munzo.

    It was, however, reported that Shingo, who is the husband of the school principal, was back at the school after the court case and that the case had not been reported to the ministry's regional and head offices.

    According to Steenkamp, despite swift action taken against teachers charged with sexual harassment or sexual abuse of learners, the ministry learned with great dismay about Shingo's case.

    Steenkamp said the ministry condemned any form of sexual harassment or indecent assault by staff members.

    “It is a major transgression, one which infringes on the rights of the learners leaving them violated, vulnerable and traumatised.”

    She said it was established that Shingo had applied for early retirement after the case had been reported to the police. While processing the request the ministry learnt about the case of indecent assault.

    On 17 January Shingo resigned with immediate effect, citing “personal reasons”.

    Steenkamp said the ministry will address the school management's failure to report the case in accordance with the Public Service Act.

    Meanwhile, the DTA's secretary for education, Elma Dienda, this week said that sexual relations between teachers and learners was a worrying trend.

    “There are already enough obstacles to learning that children should not also have to live under constant fear of sexual harassment and assault by their teachers,” Dienda said.

    She said there was a misperception that sexual relationships between learners and teachers were permissible if there was consent.

    “It is an open secret that intimate relationships between teachers and learners are commonplace in Namibian schools, especially in rural schools.”

    She claimed teachers and school principals were aware of these relationships, but a culture of secrecy had developed and therefore no action was taken against offending teachers.

    The DTA called on the Children's Advocate to urgently investigate the incident involving Shingo and the troubling occurrence of sexual relations between learners and teachers.

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  • 01/19/17--14:00: AR throws down the gauntlet
  • AR throws down the gauntletAR throws down the gauntletStarts own project for informal settlements The Affirmative Repositioning movement says the Mass Urban Land Servicing Programme is going nowhere and it will forge ahead on its own. JANA-MARI SMITH



    The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) land activists yesterday announced their withdrawal from the Mass Urban Land Servicing partnership with, citing a lack of commitment on the part of the government.

    Two of the group’s founders, Job Amupanda and George Kambala, announced a list of alternative actions, underlining AR’s commitment to “dedicate 2017 to practical action and less on bureaucratised meetings after meetings”.

    The said activists from across the country were prepared to mobilise in order to “stop the practice of only the rich and politically connected who benefit from the national cake”.

    According to Amupanda and Kambala, AR activists are embedded in 4 000 villages and informal settlements, 121 constituencies, more than 50 local authorities and in all 14 regions of Namibia.

    Amupanda said the AR movement would change course this year.

    “We have spoken enough, dialogued enough and given the political elite enough benefit of the doubt,” he said.

    “The elites still do not get the message that they still rely on old propaganda and are not interested in changing economic policy to practically benefit the masses,” he said.

    “Land occupation remains an available option in this practical year of action. Indeed, it must not appear as if land occupation has been abandoned completely.”

    In July 2015, the government averted a mass land grab by partnering with the AR on the Massive Urban Land Servicing Programme, with a goal of initially servicing 200 000 plots countrywide.

    AR decided to pull out because “not only is there failure to meet the targets and observe the urgency of the housing crisis, there is evidently no consequences for those who deliberately fail the massive urban land servicing programme,” Amupanda said.

    He said the targets for the land servicing programme had been missed and “no single explanation was offered”.

    Kambala and Amupanda claimed that the failure of the land servicing programme was linked to a government strategy “to ensure that AR will not succeed” by means of deliberate bureaucratic delays and lack of consequences for inaction.

    The AR will instead focus on alternative programmes, including pushing for the implementation of a rent control board and a housing initiative for informal settlements, aimed at improving living conditions in these communities at no cost to residents.

    A letter addressed to the government was sent yesterday demanding urgent progress on the implementation of rent control boards, Kambala said.

    The letter warned that legal steps would be taken after 19 February if no further progress was observed in the next month.

    Amupanda said the estimated half a million Namibians living in informal areas had been “abandoned” by the government, except before elections, when they were courted for votes.

    “There is no intervention on the part of government and local authorities to decisively assist our people … who are still without basic services. Most of [them] have lived in informal settlements for far more than 26 years.

    “Those people have successfully occupied land, and we will reward them for this,” he said.

    The AR plans to mobilise local youth and raise funds to upgrade shacks with alternative building materials, install solar power and put up street names in the informal settlements.

    Amupanda warned that attempts to oppose the informal settlement upliftment programme would be met with resistance.

    “We hope nobody gets in our way because we are going to be very confrontational,” he said.

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    OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama group condemns class actionOvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama group condemns class action A splinter group from the OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama communities (ONCD) has distanced itself from a class action lawsuit filed by Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro, Chief David Frederick and the Association of the OvaHerero Genocide.

    The OvaHerero and Nama traditional authorities, who feel sidelined by the Namibian and German governments' negotiations on reparations for the 1904-08 genocide of OvaHerero and Nama people, have filed a federal class action lawsuit in the United States against the German government.

    Addressing a handful of followers, the ONCD yesterday said they had not been consulted on the lawsuit and were not party to it.

    “We urge the Namibian and German governments not to be detracted by the ongoing class action registered with the US courts. But to proceed negotiating in good faith towards an amicable resolution and closure of this deeply dark chapter in our history,” said ONCD chairman Gerson Katjirua.

    He commended the Namibian government and its special envoy on genocide and reparations, Dr Zed Ngavirue, for the progress made with the

    negotiations.

    Although the group have no definite demand at this point, they said they would “pursue other means” if the negotiations did not live up to their expectations.

    “We are not going to say anything about the type of action that we plan to take if negotiations fail. Negotiation is just one option but it will not be war,” said Katjirua.

    ONCD member Freddy Nguvauva further implored Vice-President Nickey Iyambo, who chairs the subcommittee of chiefs, to regularise the relevant channels of communication.

    “We are not kept in the dark, but quite some time pass before these meetings are held. He [Iyambo] was approached and promised that he would address it, but we still feel the need to bring it to this platform to register the urgency and seriousness of this issue,” said Nguvauva.

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    Land reform a hot topic at law conferenceLand reform a hot topic at law conferenceChief Justice calls on citizens to know their rights With an ever-increasing demand for affordable land, stability is threatened and the best course of action is for the law to awaken to the changing times. During the Society for Law Teachers of Southern Africa conference Namibia’s Chief Justice Peter Shivute highlighted the importance of the ownership of land.

    In his speech at the conference in Swakopmund on Wednesday, he said the ownership of land enhanced quality of life and represented a high degree of accomplishment.

    “Our constitution provides in Article 16 for the right of all persons in Namibia to have a sense of security by acquiring land or immovable property which they can own individually or in association with others, and which they can bequeath to their heirs as part of their legacies,” said Shivute.

    According to him this is an integral component of the fabric of society and contributes sustainably to social development.

    The devastating drought which affects nearly 39 million people in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), is the biggest threat to our land, according to him.

    “This state of affairs severely affects the agricultural output and means of sustenance for both our people and livestock. The need for survival becomes an even greater objective. As we are aware, the fight for survival on land has created numerous disputes, either in the form of livestock owners seeking pasture, or farmers looking for land for crop production,” said Shivute.

    He warned that this situation threatened stability and said the best course of action was for the law to awaken to the changing times, “so that we strengthen the enforcement of the environmental laws that seek to preserve our land, one of our greatest treasures”.

    “Our policy goals should be directed to preserve the natural heritage, biodiversity and life-supporting ecosystems in Southern Africa. I urge you to champion the cause to protect our environment, our land, so that this precious treasure has defenders for prosperity.”

    Shivute said institutions such as law faculties had the power to influence policy, law and strategy, and to generally ensure good governance.

    “The biggest challenge we are facing now is the provision of accessible and affordable land to all sectors in our communities. The challenge of landlessness is further interconnected with low income. Urbanisation has created high population densities which are placing greater demand on cities and towns for the provision of basic amenities. Consequently land is now earmarked for city and town expansions coupled with infrastructure development, which is a costly exercise that drives the cost of land to exorbitant prices.

    “The growing interest in land investments by local or foreign investors increases the value of land, out of reach of the locals who fall under middle-income to poor communities, and let us not forget that these people make up the majority of our populations,” he said.

    According to Shivute there is also a need to inform the public of their rights concerning the registration of land they occupy and the security that lies in that registration.

    “It is important for citizens to not only know their rights but also to enforce them, so that we start building a wider reservoir of public opinion. Doubtless, public opinion sways government policies. This in turn paves the way for good governance,” said Shivute.

    Professor Lazarus Hangula said in his welcoming remarks that comprehensive and informed debates at the conference would contribute to the improvement of legal education in Namibia and the rest of Africa. He said improving the capacity of legal educators to offer quality legal education would also ensure access to justice for all people in Africa, whether rich or poor.

    JESSICA BOTES

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    Defence splashes on armoured carsDefence splashes on armoured carsGovernment mum on new purchases The Namibia Defence Force has bought eight high-tech armoured vehicles, plus four weapon systems, from South Africa's Denel. The Ministry of Defence is adding new armoured vehicles to its fleet in a deal that could cost taxpayers dearly.

    The army will soon take delivery of eight high-specification RG32M military vehicles and four lightweight remote weapon systems bought from South African arms manufacturer Denel.

    It is, however, unclear at this stage when the ministry made the purchases. Defence minister Penda Ya Ndakalo refused to answer questions yesterday.

    One RG32M military vehicle reportedly costs in the region of N$3.5 million. The estimated cost of the four self-defence remotely operated weapon (SDROW) systems could not be established yesterday.

    Approached for comment, Ya Ndakolo said the ministry was not answerable to the media.

    “This is not the right platform when we deal with equipment purchased by the force. It is not our culture and therefore we have no comment,” he said.

    Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein also declined to comment and referred Namibian Sun to the Ministry of Defence.

    He said a budgetary allocation had been made and that there was discretion regarding certain purchases because of security concerns. “You will have to enquire from the Ministry of Defence. Given the risk of security, some purchases do not pass through the Tender Board or the Ministry of Finance,” Schlettwein said.



    State of the art

    Defence Web yesterday reported on its website that Denel was on track to deliver RG32M armoured patrol vehicles and SDROW lightweight remote weapon systems to Namibia in the next four months.









    “The contract is a substantial one and will see eight RG32M vehicles and four SDROW weapon stations exported,” Denel said in a statement.

    Johan Steyn, Denel Vehicle Systems chief executive, said delivery would be made by the end of March.



    The RG32M can operate in a variety of roles and offers a balance of protection and mobility. The vehicle carries five crew members with kit and special-purpose equipment.

    The four side doors and roof-mounted hatches allow easy entry and exit for both normal and emergency use.

    In its most recent annual report, Denel had made mention of the delivery to Namibia, saying a contract had been signed “with an African country for the supply of RG32M navy patrol vehicles,” indicating they will be taken into service by Namibia's navy.

    The SDROW is a lightweight weapon system fitted with either a 5.56 or 7.62mm light machine gun or the Denel PMP Inkunzi Strike 20x42mm weapon.

    Denel did not indicate which weapon system was selected by the NDF.



    'Impressive'

    South African independent military expert Helmut Heitman was impressed with the purchase.

    “It depends what the army will use it for but I can tell you it is a very good vehicle, nice for patrolling. If a crisis breaks out, say in Angola, it would be nice for patrolling along the border.

    “That vehicle would be my choice. It is an easy vehicle and maintaining it will not be a big challenge, perhaps because support in South Africa is not far,” he said.

    According to Heitman, the RG32M is used by the Finnish and Swedish armies, while the Irish army took delivery of the vehicles recently.

    He was surprised that Namibia had purchased the vehicles from a South African manufacturer, a first in the NDF's 27-year history.

    According to Denel, the SDROW is designed for easy installation on a variety of vehicles and platforms.

    The system can be operated remotely by a single crew member inside the vehicle cabin.

    The secretive defence spending has been frowned upon by many in recent years, while the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Defence has also been criticised.

    In the current financial year, defence received about N$7.2 billion.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    Namib Mills lowers food pricesNamib Mills lowers food prices Namibian consumers can look forward to some relief amidst reports of soaring inflation and government budget cuts.

    Next week Namib Mills will announce a price decrease effective in February on its products. This is the first price decrease in more than a year.

    While the company would not elaborate on further details, a full announcement is expected on next week Friday.

    Experts speculate that the cost of grain products will drop due to healthy harvest predictions.

    According to Dawie de Klerk, chairperson of the Agronomic Producers' Association, Namibia is estimated at this early stage to produce a third of its own maize requirements, roughly 46 000 tons, this year.

    “Maize prices are surprisingly stable for this time of the year, especially taking into account the latest harvest estimates in South Africa,” said De Klerk.

    According to him crop farmers are very positive about the rains. “We really need it to rebuild the industry after last year's poor harvest.”

    Namibians last year suffered hefty food price increases that were way above the official inflation rate.

    In August, Namib Mills spokesperson Ashante Mannetti told Namibian Sun that the prolonged drought of the past few years had put significant pressure on the affordability of grains as maize and wheat are traded on the free market, which is driven by demand and supply. “In cases where supply decreases, prices will go up, but should demand decrease, the price should come down. Recent droughts have had the effect that food inflation increased faster than the average inflation,” she said at that stage.





    By August last year the price of Namib Mills' Top Score maize meal had increased by 16%, mainly because of the drought, while wheat products such as bread and pasta had increased by 14%.

    Manetti explained that the high wheat price was also partly due to drought, but mainly because of a weaker Namibian dollar.



    “The whole Southern African region is a net importer of wheat, as wheat is more effectively grown in colder climates such as Canada, Germany and Russia.”



    She said the most important factor to keep an eye on was rainfall in the maize-producing areas of Namibia and South Africa. Market prices are starting to drop as weather forecasters are predicting normal rainfall for the 2016/2017 season.



    De Klerk said Namibia's dry-land maize harvest was expected to reach 46 000 tons this season.



    The country's maize consumption over the past three years was about 155 000 tons per year.



    Going into more detail about the expected harvest, De Klerk said the Maize Triangle and the Otavi Valley were still very dry up to the end of December.



    During the past two weeks farmers have been planting. But, because of financial pressure resulting from last year's poor harvest, not all farmers in these areas could afford to plant all their fields.



    About 5 000 hectares of maize will be planted this year, De Klerk said.



    Should there be sufficient follow-up rains the harvest could average three tons per hectare, otherwise it will be about 2.5 tons per hectare. That means a harvest of between 12 500 and 15 000 tons, explained De Klerk.



    “The possibility of a record harvest is therefore not excluded.”



    He said in the east of the country farmers were still planting. Indications were that about 2 600 hectares of maize would be planted on dry land and 1 500 hectares under irrigation.



    “If the rain continues it will result in about 7 000 tons of maize.”



    In the Hardap Region only 700 hectares of maize were planted and the expected harvest is 7 000 tons. He said the reason for this was because large areas were planted with lucerne during the drought.



    With regard to the Green Schemes, De Klerk said planting started late and maize was still being planted. The schemes usually plant about 2 800 hectares under irrigation and 900 hectares on dry land. That means an estimated harvest of between 15 000 and 17 000 tons can be expected there.



    ELLANIE SMIT

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     Namibia ceases to recognise Jammeh Namibia ceases to recognise Jammeh As the deadline draws close for former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh to step down or face military intervention, the Namibian government has issued a clear endorsement for President Adama Barrow today.
    In a statement issued by the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Permanent Secretary Selma Ashipala-Musavyi congratulated Barrow on his inauguration in Senegal this week.
    “Namibia has henceforth ceased to recognise the legitimacy of Mr Jammeh. We look forward to working with the Government of President Adama Barrow for furthering our longstanding bilateral relations and cooperation,” the statement read.
    Ashipala-Musavyi called on the international community to help efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in ensuring that the “will of the Gambian people is respected and brining normalcy to The Gambia.”
    An initial deadline set for Wednesday demanding Jammeh to vacate his seat was extended until today noon, with UN-backed regional troops already in the country, ready to intervene.
    Last ditch-mediation talks are underway to persuade the former president to step down and peacefully hand over power to Barrow.

    JANA-MARI SMITH




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     Two Chinese men caught with rhino horns Two Chinese men caught with rhino horns Two Chinese men were arrested after they were found in possession of rhino horns in Windhoek this morning.
    Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga told Nampa that the investigation is still at an infant stage and could not divulge more information regarding the matter.
    “Poaching remains a serious criminal situation in Namibia; it seems poachers are failing to understand our warnings,” he said.
    Ndeitunga said most of the poachers are Chinese nationals, while Namibians are also involved in poaching at places such as the Etosha National Park.
    In November last year, a Chinese man was arrested in South Africa after he was found with 18 rhino horns worth N$6.6 million. It is suspected the horns were smuggled out of Namibia.

    NAMPA

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  • 01/22/17--14:00: NPL clubs remain dormant
  • NPL clubs remain dormantNPL clubs remain dormantMajority of local clubs not training Premier league players are sitting idle at home because their clubs have not yet started training due to the uncertainty about when the league will kick off. Several Namibia Premier League (NPL) clubs have opted not to start training, saying that it would be an unnecessary expense in the absence of a firm date when the league will start.

    Earlier this month, NPL officials disclosed that the league was struggling to find the N$21 million sponsorship deal it desperately needed to start the league.

    Blue Waters, Black Africa, Life Fighters and Tura Magic officials have put training on hold.



    Black Africa

    Chairman Bonny Paulino feels that it is not logical for the club to start training while there is no kick-off date for the league. The former league champions suspended training last year after it was announced that the league would remain on hold pending a sponsorship deal.

    “I do not think there is any reason for us to practise because we already know that there is no football happening.

    “I feel that we will waste the players' time and the fact that there is no money makes it even more difficult.

    “I also do not see the need for the NFA Cup to start while the league is not on, given that the players will start demanding payment,” Paulino said.



    Tura Magic

    Tura Magic coach Paulus Shipanga said he was awaiting orders from the club management.

    The coach confirmed that the club was still not training and that players had been calling him in desperation. “I can tell you right now that there are still no activities for us at the moment because of the current situation.

    “I am still waiting for a call from the manager on what direction we should take.

    “The players have not been training and I do not see any activities happening anytime soon given the situation which the league finds itself in at the moment.”



    Blue Waters

    Robert Shimooshili of the Walvis Bay club believes it is not worth training under the current league leadership.

    He said the club had told its players to keep fit on their own until a solution was found.

    “It is about time that the current NPL leadership steps down because they have been useless for some time now.

    “Our club will not be able to start practising because we feel it will be pointless at the moment.

    “I think it is time that the current NPL leader steps down because its reputation has been tarnished.

    “Sponsors will not invest in a place where leaders have been in newspapers for all the wrong reasons lately,” Shimooshili said.



    Life Fighters

    Newly promoted Otjiwarongo club Life Fighters have been dormant for the past couple of months since gaining promotion to the premier league. Chairman Anton Kake cited various reasons for the club's inactivity, including the fact that the league has no starting date.

    “We have financial troubles here because I am currently the only one making a contribution to the club.

    “Therefore, we will not be able to have training sessions because we are unable to afford facilities.

    “The other reason is the one we always know about - the league's sponsorship problems,” Kake said.



    Some clubs still believe

    While other clubs seemed to have given up hope that the league will kick off soon, others refuse to give up and have started training.

    Citizens FC, Young Chiefs FC and Unam FC are all active.



    Citizens FC

    Citizens FC chairman David Goagoseb says his club began training last week. He feels it is important for players to remain active.

    “We are a football club and have to keep training until there is no more hope left.

    “The boys have been busy because you can never know when things will change for the better.

    “However, it remains a very difficult and depressing time for all of us even if we are trying to shake it off,” Goagoseb said.



    Young Chiefs FC

    A spokesman for Oshakati-based Young Chiefs says his club has been preparing for local tournaments in the north.

    “So far, we have been keeping ourselves fit with training and playing local games.

    “As we speak, we are preparing for rural tournaments which will see us playing against local teams until something comes up.

    “The thing is that we have to stay focused and hopeful that the league is going to start someday.”



    Unam FC

    A member of the University of Namibia Football Club, Evaristus Evaristus, also said that his club had started training.

    “The boys started training last week in preparation for anything that could happen in the next few weeks. “I have been on leave for a while, but it was communicated to me that the boys are optimistic,” Evaristus said.

    JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA

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  • 01/22/17--14:00: NRU's GM post under scrutiny
  • NRU's GM post under scrutinyNRU's GM post under scrutinyUnion to focus on its structures The rugby union will focus more on its other structures and on getting a high-performance centre fully operational rather than appointing a general manager. The Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) will possibly not appoint a general manager this year, acting CEO Elizma Theron has said.

    This is after the rugby union decided to change various management and operational structures in an attempt to develop the game.

    Theron said the decision was not final, but it was probably the best thing that the NRU could do at the moment, despite announcing last year that it was looking for a local candidate for the position.

    “We have not advertised the position yet for the reason that we might possibly not have to appoint a general manager.

    “We are busy with the finalising of structures in the NRU and our plan is to not to advertise the position.

    “There will be structures that will suit the union even if some of the positions will be removed,” Theron said.

    Former general manager John Williams resigned last year, citing personal reasons.

    Williams returned to South Africa after having been the union's general manager since January 2015.

    The role of the general manager has been similar to that of the director and he/she reported directly to the CEO. NRU president Bradley Basson also confirmed that the union would be focusing on finalising the structures rather than appointing a general manager.

    Basson said: “We want to change things here and improve our structures which include the full operation of our high-performance centre.

    “I do believe that that position will remain on hold until further notice given the operations that are currently under way at the union.”

    The rugby union announced late last year that it had secured the services of high-profile Welsh coach Lyn Jones following the resignation of former Currie Cup coach John Williams.

    JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA

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