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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

older | 1 | .... | 259 | 260 | (Page 261) | 262 | 263 | .... | 1152 | newer

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    Animal health under spotlightAnimal health under spotlight The 22nd conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)'s Regional Commission for Africa is underway in Swakopmund.

    The OIE is the inter-governmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide.

    It is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and in 2016 had 180 member countries, including Namibia.

    Fifty-four representatives from member countries such as Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Uganda will during the five-day conference discuss ways to improve animal health.

    OIE Director General Monique Eloit said there is a need to develop specific strategies to fight diseases in Africa at regional level.

    Eloit said the focus is on fighting and eliminating diseases such as rabies and ovine rinderpest.

    “Our gathering here allows countries which are struggling to control animal diseases to learn from those doing better. I believe if one country can do it, we all can,” she said.

    Agriculture minister John Mutorwa noted that animal health should be given the same attention as human health.

    He said humans depend on animals for food, thus they should be kept healthy to avoid disease being spread from animals to people.

    He said education is equally important in this area as many people do not know much about animal health.

    “If we educate our people, we will be able to control the spread of diseases,” the minister said.

    Chief veterinary officer in Namibia, Adrianatus Maseke said if animal disease is minimised, food availability will increase.

    He said in the case of Namibia and many other African countries, livestock farmers produce but cannot sell as they do not meet certain trade requirements. This is mostly because the health status of their animals are not up to standard.

    “To avoid hunger and poverty we need to develop strategies which eliminate diseases and implement policies which will allow farmers to sell their livestock,” Maseke said.



    NAMPA

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  • 02/21/17--14:00: Shape up or ship out
  • Shape up or ship outShape up or ship out It seems we have officially entered the golden age of mudslinging if the factional infighting within the ruling party, Swapo, is anything to go by.

    There is so much at stake at the Swapo elective congress at the end of this year and there is enough reason to believe that much of the infighting being experienced among members is definitely linked to the succession battle.

    With the mother body's congress looming large, the succession field clearly remains open within the youth league and the Swapo Party's Elders Council (SPEC). Not surprising, the youth league has been split for quite some time now, with loyalists of former secretary Elijah Ngurare and current acting SPYL boss Veikko Nekundi squaring off at the slightest provocation.

    The deep-seated differences among so-called cadres are highly disturbing and go to show that very few youth leaders are prepared to put Namibia ahead of self-interest and party politics.

    The unity and spirit of camaraderie that once existed among members is now a thing of the past.

    The SPYL is now nothing but a platform for personal attacks and its influential members are being used to fight battles of the elders.

    It is very sad that our current crop of youth leaders have done little to mobilise and unite young people of this country in achieving common goals.

    The youth of this country are languishing in despair.

    Poor leadership and constant bickering by those who are supposed to represent their interest has disappointingly further trapped them in the world of victimhood.

    With so many problems facing our nation, it is incumbent on the youth leaders to provide direction to the top political and government leadership in order to move our country forward.

    The young people are educated and are aware of their needs in society and thus should not use petty politicking to sabotage the dreams and aspirations of thousands of youth looking up to them in this country.

    If you can't stand the heat in the kitchen, then make way for those who are willing to lead to the best of their ability.

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    Accountant admits stealing N$5.8mAccountant admits stealing N$5.8mMoney was spent on a Windhoek mansion A South African-born accountant has admitted guilt on fraud charges involving over N$5 million. A former accountant at two building supplies dealers has confessed that he stole N$5.8 million from his employer, which he mostly spent on a mansion in Windhoek's Olympia suburb.

    A tearful Peter Tyran Kohler, 46, admitted to fraud charges involving N$5.8 million yesterday during cross-examination.

    The South African citizen further informed the court that the stolen money was mostly used on his house.

    Kohler worked as store accountant at both the Pennypinchers Timbercity branches in Windhoek and Ongwediva respectively about six years ago when the crime was allegedly committed.

    He admitted to 218 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, involving an amount of about N$5.8 million.

    A portion of the money was spent on his mother's house, her medical expenses and living costs, Kohler explained before Judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday.

    The judge has postponed the case to 7 March for sentencing. State prosecutor Ingrid Husselman, during the cross-examination of the accused, conceded that Kohler showed remorse but stressed that he did not cooperate with the complainant as he did not show them how he actually committed the offence.

    She said Kohler did not sacrifice anything to compensate the complainant for the loss except his pension.

    His house has since been seized by his former employer, according to Husselman.

    According to the state, society expects the accused to be severely punished for the offence and that such punishment would bring respect to the country's judicial system.

    “The accused used the stolen money to sustain a luxurious lifestyle over five years.

    He had over this period the opportunity to stop indulging himself in the criminal activity but did not do so,” Husselman argued. Liebenberg at this stage remarked that the fact the accused pleaded guilty to the charges means much.

    “He took the court into his confidence and should be in some way credited for that.

    This will not distract the court from the seriousness of the offence but normally impacts on the period of sentence,” he observed.

    Husselman further conceded that it will not be far-fetched for the court to suspend part of the sentence. Meze Tjituri, the defence lawyer on behalf of Kohler, pleaded for a partly suspended sentence.

    “Prison sentence not exceeding six years will meet the requirements of the administration of justice,” he argued.

    He claimed that his client appropriated N$50 000 over a period of five years from 2009 to 2014.

    Liebenberg said that there is currently a civil claim instituted against the accused alongside the criminal proceeding.

    “There is however a dispute over the amount,” he said.

    However, he added that there is nothing before the court that the accused is in a position to pay back the N$5.8 million in the immediate or near future.



    FRED GOEIEMAN

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    Stiffer sentences for wildlife crimesStiffer sentences for wildlife crimes Cabinet last week approved proposed amendments to the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act.

    The amendments will increase fines and prison terms for the possession and trade of controlled wildlife products such as elephant tusks and rhino horns.

    Information minister Tjekero Tweya on Friday announced the approval of the amendments to the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act of 2008.

    He said the cabinet had referred the amendment bill to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation for further scrutiny before its tabling in the National Assembly.

    Approached for comment, environment minister Pohamba Shifeta said once the bill was passed, any foreigner convicted of trading in wildlife products, irrespective of whether they were sentenced, would be deported.

    “They will not be allowed back into Namibia,” he said.

    In an interview with Namibian Sun earlier this month, the minister had expressed concern about the dated law. At the time Shifeta said proposed fines would range from N$100 000 to N$25 million. Currently the maximum fine is N$200 000.

    Shifeta said poachers easily paid the fines and then simply committed the same crimes again.

    “The problem is that they just pay fines and continue their business. To them it is peanuts what they pay. For them it is business as usual - as if nothing happened.”

    He reiterated that foreigners convicted of wildlife crimes should be deported immediately after serving their sentences. They should not be allowed back into the country to commit more crimes.

    Shifeta said the business of poaching was like drug addiction. “It is very difficult to rehabilitate someone. A person involved in these activities will continue even after they were arrested because the payment is so high.”

    He elaborated on the workings of poaching syndicates and said five known syndicates were currently operating in Namibia.

    “These have tentacles and that is where we need to break them, by giving heavy sentences and fines. We need to harm them so that they find it difficult to start again.”

    According to him the kingpins of these syndicates are from abroad and they recruit Namibian middlemen and footsoldiers to commit the poaching.

    He said the ministry took wildlife crime very seriously and therefore all possible avenues would be exploited to bring those involved to book. During the interview he also said that it would be better to have a separate court just for wildlife cases. Prosecutors should be trained in the prosecution of wildlife crimes and magistrates should be made aware of the importance of such cases.

    – Additional reporting by Nampa

    STAFF REPORTER

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    Trade facilitation, industrialisation talks for SACUTrade facilitation, industrialisation talks for SACU Southern African Customs Union (SACU) executive secretary Pauline Elago yesterday paid President Hage Geingob a courtesy visit to brief him on developments pertaining to the union.

    Updating the president, she said SACU remained committed to distributing revenue collected to its member states despite the low economic growth witnessed in the southern African region.

    She also said that trade facilitation and industrialisation talks would feature high on the custom union's agenda when the SACU council of ministers meet to deliberate on trade issues in the region and used the opportunity to dispel the notion that South Africa was not getting its fair share of the revenues.

    “We are hoping the council of [trade] ministers will pick up the pace to discuss the SACU revenue-sharing formula. The council has agreed that there are certain principals that will guide the agenda, we will therefore have to see,” she said on the side-lines of her visit to the president.

    “We want to build on what SADC has regarding industrialisation and what kind of tariff-sharing mechanisms will be put in place for all its members.”

    On South Africa's grievance and whether discussions regarding a broader slice of the cake would be granted, she said, “There is always this notion that there are transfers to BLN countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia).

    There is a provision for revenue-sharing. It is just not transfers, it is an arrangement. However there is an understanding that the formula needs to be reviewed. The discussion will be broader. There are a whole lot of issues that will need to be discussed.

    Sharing his thoughts, Geingob, a former trade minister said SACU remains critical.

    “Even with the crisis we have, SACU is important.”

    Namibia's share from the SACU pool was reduced by almost N$3 billion in the 2016/17 financial year, markedly lesser then it had received in prior years. Elago however said that Namibia's share would be satisfactory compared to the allocation given in the 2016/17 financial year, albeit a bit bigger. The latest national accounts compiled show that Namibia received just over N$17 billion in SACU transfers in 2015. Namibia receives as much as one-third of its income from the SACU revenue pool.

    SACU is one of the oldest customs union and comprises Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. Collectively, they are known as BLNS countries in trade circles.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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  • 02/21/17--14:00: Mugabe holds on
  • Mugabe holds onMugabe holds onVows to rule on despite health fears Yesterday, as Robert Mugabe celebrated his 93rd birthday, he affirmed his candidacy for the 2018 election. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, the world's oldest national ruler, turned 93 yesterday, defiantly vowing to remain in power despite growing signs of frailty and failing health.

    He celebrated with his staff in a private ceremony in Harare while supporters used state media to send their annual gushing messages of goodwill and congratulations.

    The main celebrations will be held Saturday at Matobo National Park outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, and are expected to attract thousands of officials and ZANU-PF party faithful.

    Large game animals are often slaughtered for the occasion.

    In previous years Mugabe has reportedly been offered elephants, buffalo and impala for the feast.

    Mugabe has ruled out any prospect of retiring soon, saying that ZANU-PF officials believe there is no “acceptable” alternative.

    “The call to step down must come from my party... In such circumstances I will step down,” the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper quoted Mugabe as saying in an interview aired late Monday.

    “They want me to stand for elections... If I feel that I can't do it any more, I will say so to my party so that they relieve me. But for now, I think I can't say so,” he said.

    “The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement, a successor who to them is acceptable,” Mugabe added. The veteran leader came to power when Zimbabwe won independence in 1980 and his rule has been criticised for ruthless repression of dissent, election rigging, and for causing the country's economic collapse. Several incidents in recent years have highlighted his advanced age - including a fall in February 2015 at Harare airport.

    In September of the same year he read a speech to parliament apparently unaware that he had delivered exactly the same address a month earlier. Despite growing calls to step aside, his party has endorsed him as its candidate for general elections next year, and he remains widely respected as a liberation hero by other African leaders. On Friday, his wife, Grace, claimed that Mugabe would be the voters' choice even after he dies.

    She has also vowed to use a wheelchair to transport him to election rallies if needed.

    Grace, 51, was appointed head of the ruling party's women's wing in a surprise move that could make her a possible successor to Mugabe.

    Another leading candidate is Mugabe's vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Last year, security forces brutally quelled a series of street protests in Harare, a rare public expression of opposition to Mugabe's regime.

    According to Bloomberg News, Zimbabwe's economic output has halved since 2000 when many white-owned farms were seized by ZANU-PF supporters, leaving the key agricultural sector in ruins.

    Mugabe described his wife Grace, an increasingly political figure, as “fireworks” because of her feisty remarks in his defence.

    In the Monday interview, Mugabe noted that his wife's remarks were shown on television.

    “Fireworks, isn't it?” he said to the interviewer, laughing.

    Grace Mugabe's political rise has been a source of consternation for opposition figures as well as some officials within the ruling ZANU-PF party who suspect she is positioning herself for an even more powerful role in the government. The president described her as “very much accepted by the people” and said the women's wing of the ruling ZANU-PF party had chosen his wife as its head because of her political ambitions.

    He described her as “well-seasoned” and “a very strong character”.

    During the interview, Mugabe often gestured to emphasise points. He spoke slowly and was slumped into a leather armchair for the most of the interview.



    NAMPA/AP/AFP

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    Minister hand-picks Meatco boardMinister hand-picks Meatco boardFarmers' nominations 'were invalid' Meat producers were shocked yesterday when the agriculture minister appointed a Meatco board without their input. Agriculture minister John Mutorwa yesterday announced the new Meatco board members, all of whom were appointed by him and none nominated by the company.

    This follows an allegedly illegal meeting by Meatco members on 12 August last year where new board members were nominated. These nominations were considered invalid.

    “The law is now punishing those members who went ahead with the meeting in August 2016 after it was postponed,” Mutorwa said yesterday.

    “If they were wise, they would not have responded emotionally and continued, in a challenging manner, with the meeting. The meeting was illegal without the presence of a chairperson and thus, I cannot accept their nominations.”

    He added that by 4 January, he had not received valid nominations from the members for the new board and because the former board's term had expired, he appointed a board according to the company's regulations, section 5(4).

    Meatco CEO Vekuii Rukoro did not want to comment on the procedures followed by the minister but did say that Mutorwa probably was correct in saying that the 12 August meeting was illegal. He did not want to comment on whether the Meatco executive would recognise the new board members.

    The new members are Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, Ronald Kubas, Ismael Ngangane, Sophia Kasheeta, Fanie Oosthuizen and Mushokobanji Mwilima. The new chair and deputy chair will be elected on Monday.

    Mutorwa says he consulted legal counsel and was advised that if there was no board and no chairperson, and if no nominations had been received, he could appoint a board.

    “I trust the advice fully,” Mutorwa said.

    The 12 August meeting was postponed at very short notice and no new date was set for a meeting where members could make their nominations. It is the ministry that should set such a date.

    Producers were enraged yesterday and said their right to nominate candidates of their choice had been taken away from them because no new date was set for the meeting.

    “The only conclusion we can infer is that this was done purposefully. We were told 45 minutes prior to the start of the meeting that it was cancelled and that after many of us had travelled far to Windhoek,” one farmer said.

    “We were never given a reason as to why the meeting was cancelled. If the minister and the chairperson say the 12 August meeting was illegal, why not set a new date?” he asked.

    Mutorwa had extended the board's term for three months from October last year. In January he appointed six temporary members. He was advised to appoint a permanent board in February.



    ELVIRA HATTINGH

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  • 02/21/17--14:00: Pupils sent home over hair
  • Pupils sent home over hairPupils sent home over hair Learners and their parents were spotted on Monday morning roaming around Ompunda village looking for barbershops, saying that the Otala Combined School principal, Kanisius Sheyanale, had sent home everyone who had turned up at school without fresh haircuts.

    Otala Combined School is in the Onamutai education circuit in the Oshana Region.

    The school on Monday introduced a new hair policy for all learners, boys and girls. However, parents say the new policy was not communicated to them and that is why their children ended up being sent home.

    Parents who spoke to Namibian Sun acknowledged that their children had told them about the new rule on Friday. Some parents said they ignored the message because their children already had short hair.

    “How is long hair preventing learners from studying? He was supposed to communicate to us in writing. On Friday our children came home and told us that long hair was no longer allowed at school, starting Monday. The timing was very short for us to prepare everything, and now we see them returned home,” said a parent.

    Namibian Sun spotted some learners, who claimed to be from distant villages, cutting each otwher's hair along the Ondangwa-Oshikango road during school hours.

    They claimed that they did not cut their hair over the weekend because they thought their hair was short enough.

    “This morning the headmaster visited each class, grade 1 to 10, removing all the learners who had not cut their hair, sending them home.

    “We were not told the required hair length and that is why some of us did not cut our hair. We decided to cut our hair with our stationery scissors so that we can go back to school – our homes are very far,” said one learner.

    Parents also complained that the principal was charging each learner at his school N$25 for hiring a security guard, and N$20 for school meals.

    “We thought school feeding was free. Learners here are charged school feeding money and security money every trimester. If we fail to give them money, he sends them back home until we give the money. Some of us have more than one child at school and it is expensive for us,” one parent complained.

    When approached for comment, Sheyanale said the learners and parents who complained were not from his school.

    “The parents and learners you show are not from here. All our learners are in classes and parents were informed of the school's new haircut policy in a meeting three weeks ago. Maybe you met the wrong parents with the wrong learners. I do not want to comment on wrong information from wrong people,” Sheyanale said.

    ILENI NANDJATO

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  • 02/21/17--14:00: Accused spat at magistrate
  • Accused spat at magistrateAccused spat at magistrate A Walvis Bay man was yesterday sentenced to three months' imprisonment after spitting at a magistrate.

    Magistrate Rivermo Williams sentenced Venancio Muller (36) to three months' imprisonment without the option of a fine for contempt of court.

    Police officers had to restrain and remove Muller from the stand after Williams denied his request that his bail be reduced from N$10 000 to N$5 000. Muller appeared in connection with a fraud and corruption case involving employees of the Inland Revenue Department at Walvis Bay.

    Williams withdrew Muller's bail after he started swearing and spitting at her.

    Muller's conduct resulted in the cancellation of his bail and a charge of contempt of court brought against him. During his appearance on the contempt charge, Muller opted to conduct his own defence and quoted Article 6 of the Namibian Constitution which refers to the protection of life.

    “I became angry after you refused to reduce my bail to N$5 000. I have a family to take care of and exercised my human rights to speak,” Muller told the magistrate.

    Williams instructed police officers to handcuff Muller during his appearance.

    “Why are you scared of me? I am only human. I was not myself and ask for forgiveness from the court for what I have done,” Muller pleaded in mitigation.

    He told police officers escorting him back to the holding cells at the court that he would be better off in prison than in the police cells.

    Williams postponed the fraud and theft case against the other accused to 9 May.

    Prosecutor Tuihaleni Hilikuete confirmed that another arrest had been made in connection with the case and said the suspect (accused number 14) would appear in court later yesterday. The first six suspects - a tax officer, a cleaner and four accomplices - were arrested on 27 and 28 December in Walvis Bay.

    Williams granted bail of N$10 000 each to seven of the accused. There are apparently at least 21 people involved in the scam, including three employees of the Ministry of Finance.

    OTIS FINCK

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  • 02/21/17--14:00: Namibia belongs to all
  • Namibia belongs to all Namibia belongs to all Swapo speaks out on ancestral land The ruling party has made it clear that no one has an exclusive right to any resources in the country. The Swapo leadership has finally broken its silence on the issue of ancestral land, saying the country belongs to all.

    During a Politburo meeting on Monday, the party leadership made it clear that no one had an exclusive right to any resources in the country.

    At a press briefing yesterday Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba urged Namibians to be patient until the second land conference later this year and not to stoke emotions by publicly announcing their sentiments on the land issue.

    “The political bureau noted the increasing cry for land by many landless Namibians. The political bureau also noted with concern the demands for ancestral land. It is our view that Namibia and her resources, land and minerals belong to all Namibians,” he said.

    This comes at a time when many Namibians claim they have been excluded from land ownership and accuse the government of running a skewed land reform process.

    It has seen the birth of civil movements such as the Affirmative Repositioning movement led by Job Amupanda and the newly formed Landless People's Movement in the south of the country, which explicitly advocates for the return of ancestral land to some Namibian tribes.



    Unity

    The party leader called on members to guard the party against “infiltration and destabilisation”, referring in particular to a tribal fight that broke out at Keetmanshoop recently.

    Mbumba also called upon Namibians, irrespective of their social status, to always strive for unity and shun tribalism and discrimination.

    “The political bureau noted with concern the increasing tendency of insults towards the leadership of the party. The president further called upon the leadership and rank-and-file membership of the party to combat retrogressive tendencies of tribalism, ethnicity, regionalism and personality cults,” said Mbumba.

    He said the party only dealt with culprits in groups and not as individuals when asked whether the party planned to take disciplinary steps against former deputy lands minister Bernadus Swartbooi, who had called lands minister Utoni Nujoma an “idiot” in parliament last week.

    Although he pointed out that every Namibian enjoyed the right to freedom of expression, Mbumba urged party members to exercise this right within the parameters of the party rules.

    “Everybody saw what happened, it was on television. It is good thing we have television in parliament these days. It is now for all of us to judge for ourselves whether what he said is right,” said Mbumba.

    When asked how the party would deal with Swartbooi - who is the patron of the Landless People's Movement - Mbumba stressed that the party would not tolerate card-carrying members joining any other movement.

    “We are serious when we say we want the party united. It is important to consider whether we want to break or build. If you want to be one of us then you must act accordingly,” he warned.

    Furthermore, the Politburo on Monday resolved to establish preparatory subcommittees to take charge of specific assignments relating to Swapo's elective congress later this year.



    JEMIMA BEUKES

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  • 02/21/17--14:00: ‘The public is left out’
  • ‘The public is left out’‘The public is left out’Trade union bemoans lack of govt consultation Tucna says the government pushes through laws without affording the public and experts the time and space to provide critical input. JANA-MARI SMITH



    The Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) yesterday slammed the way in which public consultations are handled by the government, specifically the cabinet and the National Assembly.

    “We have said it a thousand times before and we are going to say it another thousand times. Our government totally lacks the tradition of consultation,” Mahongora Kavihuha, secretary-general of Tucna, said at a press conference.

    Kavihuha criticised the way in which the government had pushed through a number of changes or introduced new bills or laws without affording the public and experts the time and space to provide critical input.

    “The Namibian government’s lack of proper understanding of consultations has been demonstrated in numerous instances,” Kavihuha said. He said this had led to mounting costs at the taxpayer’s expense.

    Kavihuha emphasised that the members of the National Council were an exception to the rule. He praised them for being committed to thoroughly scrutinising proposals that came across their desks.

    But he condemned the way in which the National Assembly and cabinet treated proposals or new bills.

    “You hardly ever see the National Assembly rejecting a bill,” he said, pointing out that the National Council had often put a stop to new bills if they did not pass scrutiny, with the help of public and expert consultations.

    Some of the issues that revealed a damning lack of consultation included the amendment of the Namibian Constitution, which increased the number of seats in parliament.

    The introduction of NEEEF and the Private-Public Partnership bills were other examples “where little or no consultations were engaged in”.

    He included the solidarity tax proposal, which he said was “nearly bulldozed or rushed through parliament and into the nation without any proper semblance of consultation.”

    The Land Bill was the latest example, he said, which led to “some unsavoury and rather ungentlemanly episodes in our parliament and has raised the ire of many Namibians.”

    He said although the government, led by the lands ministry, said thorough consultations had been undertaken, their critics claimed that a lack of consultation marred the proposed bill.

    “In our view, if government had properly carried through the consultations as they ought to have conducted, the standoff in parliament would never have happened.”

    Kavihuha said the lack of consultation was characteristic of a “semi-despotic nature”, and possibly could be traced back to the liberation struggle where “command and militaristic posturing were the order of things”.

    He said the government’s current modus operandi included conducting public meetings as a form of consultation, “where information is dished out in a hurry and where virtually no debates are entertained”.

    He described these consultations as “poorly attended information sharing sessions, nothing more”.

    He said when public consultations were scheduled, not enough notice was given, or they were held during working hours when only a few unemployed people could attend.

    In line with this, Tucna had submitted a proposal to the labour ministry two years ago following a study where they looked at best practices in social dialogue processes.

    No feedback on the proposal was received and it was not passed on to relevant authorities, Kavihuha said.

    Tucna proposed the establishment of an “institutional social dialogue structure rather than just coming up with many laws and each with its cost.”

    The proposed social dialogue structure is based on a web hierarchy of permanent positions through which information flow, including public input, is directed in order to ensure maximum feedback according to a structured formulae.

    The dialogue is based on an executive body, which in turn is in touch with numerous other bodies, including the prime minister, a parliamentary sub-committee and four committees representing public service and development, the labour market, a macro-economic committee and a trade and industry committee.

    According to Tucna, trade unions are usually neglected during public debates or discussions around the introduction of new policies and laws.

    “People believe that the trade unions only deal with labour market issues,” Kavihuha said. To the contrary, he said, trade unions were vital to discussions about all social economic issues and should have a seat at the table when such issues were addressed.

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    Poaching fines to increase to N$25 millionPoaching fines to increase to N$25 million The National Assembly yesterday approved an amendment to the Nature Conservation Ordinance to increase fines related to elephant and rhino poaching from the current N$200 000 to a maximum of N$25 million.

    The period of imprisonment for convicted rhino or elephant poachers would be increased to a maximum of 25 years, up from 20 years.

    These changes are a milestone for the minister of environment and tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, who has long campaigned for harsher penalties for illegal hunting of protected and endangered species.

    The amendment bill provides for an increase of fines related to all other specially protected species from the current maximum of N$20 000 to N$10 million, and prison sentences of from five to 10 years.

    The amendment would increase the maximum fine related to all protected species from the current maximum of N$4 000 to N$500 000, or a prison sentence of four to five years. The maximum fine for illegal hunting of all other species would be increased from N$2 000 to N$500 000, or a prison sentence of five years, up from two years. Shifeta said the new fines were based on studies and comparisons with penalties in neighbouring countries.

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    Chinese on San resettlement farmChinese on San resettlement farmGovernment probes subletting allegations Beneficiaries of land reform say they are not benefiting from a project set up without their knowledge or input. The ministry of land reform is investigating allegations that a San resettlement farm is being illegally sublet to Chinese nationals.

    However, a former unionist has denied allegations that he is illegally subletting the piece of land to a Chinese company.

    The ministry has been investigating the claims since last September and it is expected that a report will be discussed by the end of March.

    The report is yet to be finalised.

    “There is no illegal subletting here. Allegations are just allegations. One has to be very careful about allegations,” commented Alfred Angula, former secretary-general of the Namibian Farm Workers Union (Nafwu).

    The Chinese company Aochen Farming (meaning 'good hope') has since April last year installed 20 greenhouses of 1 800 square metres each on Portion 14 of Ludwigshafen No. 480, about 13 kilometres north of Tsumeb, on which nine San families were resettled in 2009.

    It is producing a variety of vegetables that are sold at supermarkets in Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo and Ondangwa.

    The rub is that members of the resettled community claim that they were never informed of the project and that they do not benefit from it.

    “We do not have a problem with the project or the Chinese, but how did they get here and what is going on? We are the resettled and we have the right to know what is going on here,” says one of the resettlement beneficiaries, Matheus Kauswoab.

    Another member, Moses Gaeseb, says he feels positive about the project, “as long as things are going right”.

    Sources preferring anonymity say the ministry has instructed the enterprise to cease all operations because infrastructure has been installed without permission.

    Operations, however, continue undisturbed.

    Angula acknowledges that he did not seek permission from the ministry before the greenhouses were installed. He says there is no formal agreement or partnership between him and Aochen Farming since the enterprise is in its pilot phase.

    “I said for now let us concentrate on a pilot project and once we are happy with the development we can apply,” Angula says.



    Resettlement

    When the Ohlthaver & List Group sold the farm to the government in 2008 Angula, presumably in his capacity as Nafwu representative, reportedly intervened and insisted that the farm labourers be resettled there.

    The nine families of Gaeseb, Kauswoab, Festus Harabib, Johannes Aap, Booitjie Koebeb, Markus Kamati Sosa, Andreas Kamati, Elifas Haraseb, and Jan Tsam were resettled there in 2009.

    A 2009 supplement of the lands ministry indicates that the farm was awarded to the Ludwigshafen Worker Trust.

    Angula says he formed this trust in his personal capacity, not as a Nafwu representative, with the trustees being the resettlement beneficiaries.

    Angula has also installed himself as the chairperson of the trust.

    He is still the chairperson of the trust and insists that the farm was in fact not allocated to the San community, but to the trust.

    “The farm belongs to the trust,” he insists. “There are San people who used to work there who are beneficiaries of the trust.”



    Enter Aochen Farming

    Tao Wang says he is the sole owner of Aochen Farming because he was the sole investor in the project. So far he has invested more than N$6 million in the project.

    He realises that it is government land on which the project is run, but seemed perplexed when asked if he knew that a San community was settled on the farm.

    Wang said he had so far only dealt with Angula. He would, however, not say what Angula's cut in the deal is.

    Nafwu's current general secretary, Roco Nguvauva, is under the impression that Nafwu has some stake in the Aochen project and feels that the union should be paid dividends.

    Wang says no dividends have so far been paid to anyone because the project is not making a profit yet.

    Wang also does not know if money has to be paid for the use of the land, only saying that Angula is taking care of that part of the business.

    Wang, who says he was a former United Nations peacekeeper in Liberia, first visited Namibia in 2015 to explore business opportunities.

    He says he has similar projects with the same name in South Africa and China.

    In Namibia he was introduced to the Ludwigshafen farm by fellow Chinese nationals who are running a crusher business in the Tsumeb area.

    How he met Angula is not clear but Angula says he travels the world in search of ways to modernise agriculture in Namibia.

    Wang is currently cultivating 20 hectares of land and intends to expand the project to 100 hectares.

    Ten members of the San resettlement community are working on the project, but complain that they are paid peanuts. Sixty other workers are from neighbouring farms and Tsumeb.

    According to Angula the workers on average receive N$1 200 per month.

    Wang, who says he wants to be part of Namibia's prosperity, says he and his team have brought production, electricity and water to a farm that had been lying fallow for nearly a decade.

    “I have no doubt in my mind it was a good decision and we are on the right track,” said Angula of the project.

    Angula added: “It hurts the most when you want to start something positive and people turn it into a tribal, negative thing. No one asks how much effort you have put into it. The end product is the most important thing.”

    CATHERINE SASMAN

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    Winter time set to bite the dustWinter time set to bite the dust
    Home Affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana today presented the Namibian Time Bill in the National Assembly, which will in all probability see the country only having one seasonal time. According to the minister, Cabinet has already resolved to have a single time through all the seasons of the year. During consultations, Iivula-Ithana announced that 3 096 people wanted only summer time, while 304 wanted both summer and winter time. If approved by the National Assembly, the Namibian Time Bill will repeal the Namibian Time Act of 1994, which regulates winter and summer time. The minister also greatly emphasised that it is imperative to ensure that the law ending winter time commences this year.

    STAFF REPORTER



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    I was stabbed in the back - JJDI was stabbed in the back - JJD
    Namibian football has been thrown into further turmoil following the resignation of Namibia Premier League boss Johnny Johnson Doeseb. In a statement, the NPL confirmed that the under fire league chairperson has quit with immediate effect.
    “The resignation of Mr Doeseb necessitated the Management Committee to meet and convene a very urgent Board of Governors meeting at which event the BOG will discuss the unceremonious resignation of Mr Doeseb as Chairman of the NPL,” said NPL spokesperson Cassius Moetie.
    In his resignation letter, Doeseb claims he was betrayed by certain individuals within the football family.
    “My decision to resign as chairman of NPL is also partly contributed by individuals in the football leadership and stakeholders whom have laughed with me and secretly gone behind my back to plan how to oust me as chairman for personal gain, hence I am now making it easier for them by stepping down honourably to allow them their broken bulbs to shine,” he said.



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  • 02/22/17--14:00: Pipeline will come
  • Pipeline will comePipeline will comeUS shutting down Dakota Access oil pipeline protest camp The Army Corps of Engineers' plan to close a Dakota Access pipeline protest camp that's been around for more than six months isn't likely to be the demise of on-the-ground opposition in North Dakota. Yesterday's deadline for the protesters to leave also may not spell the end of heavy law enforcement presence near where the Dallas-based developer is finishing the last big section of the pipeline, which will carry oil from North Dakota through the Dakotas and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois.

    The protest camp is on federal land in southern North Dakota between the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the pipeline route. It has at times housed thousands of people, though it's dwindled to just a couple hundred as the pipeline battle has largely moved into the courts.

    The Corps has told those who remain in the Oceti Sakowin camp that they needed to leave by 14:00 local time Wednesday. Governor Doug Burgum listed the same time and date in an emergency evacuation order last week.

    Large-scale arrests took place at the camp Wednesday, said Morton County sheriff's spokeswoman Maxine Herr, but she insists that's not what authorities wanted. Though law enforcement and state officials in the past said they wouldn't forcibly evict protesters, they now cite the coming threat of spring flooding as a safety issue that requires clearing the camp.

    “We prefer to handle this in a more diplomatic, understanding way,” she said, adding that a transition centre will be set up to help protesters who don't have a place to go.

    Some protesters plan to move, but some in the camp are ready to go to jail and “will engage in peaceful, civil resistance ... holding hands, standing in prayer,” said American Indian activist Chase Iron Eyes.

    Morton County sheriff's deputies can arrest people who won't leave. Army Corps rangers who are in the area can't make arrests, but they can write citations for various offenses including trespassing that carry a maximum punishment of a US$5 000 fine or six months in jail, Corps Captain Ryan Hignight said.

    More than 700 protest-related arrests have occurred since August, though activity has waned recently.

    While some in camp feel “under threat” by Wednesday's deadline, most are focusing on moving off federal land and away from the flood plain, said Phyllis Young, one of the camp leaders.

    “The camps will continue,” she said. “Freedom is in our DNA, and we have no choice but to continue the struggle.”

    Other camps are popping up on private land in the area, including one the Cheyenne River Sioux has set up about a mile from the Oceti Sakowin camp.

    “A lot of our people want to be here and pray for our future,” tribal Chairman Harold Frazier said.

    Once the main camp is cleared of people, cleanup of trash and debris that's being coordinated by the tribal, state and federal governments will continue. More than 1 000 tons of waste had been removed by contractors as of early Tuesday, though dozens of semi-permanent structures remained, according to Herr. Dozens of abandoned vehicles also remained, according to George Kuntz, vice president of the North Dakota Towing Association.

    Law enforcement for months has maintained a staging area just north of the protest camp. With clean-up continuing, construction ongoing and protesters still in the area, it's unclear when the operations centre will be shut down.

    “That will be a tactical decision,” said Mike Nowatzki, a spokesman for Governor Burgum.

    NAMPA/AP

    0 0
  • 02/22/17--14:00: Shot of the day
  • Shot of the dayShot of the day BORDERLINE: An abandoned sofa sits against the border fence on the US/Mexico border in Tecate, California. This image is part of an ongoing AFP photo project documenting life on the two sides of the US/Mexico border. PHOTO: NAMPA/AFP

    0 0
  • 02/22/17--14:00: No patience for corruption
  • No patience for corruptionNo patience for corruption So the Swapo leadership has finally pronounced itself on the contentious debate of ancestral land claims, highlighting that no one has an exclusive right to any resources in the country.

    The comments by Swapo top administrator Nangolo Mbumba following the holding of the politburo meeting on Monday appears to confirm the position of government on this issue. Rightly so, Swapo, also believes that Namibians should be allowed to be resettled anywhere provided they meet requirements, in addition to utilising the land productively.

    The Landless People's Movement will probably not agree with Mbumba and land activists will certainly try to poke holes in his statement. During a media briefing on the outcome of the politburo meeting, Mbumba pleaded with Namibians, especially the youth, to be patient over the land issue.

    While Swapo probably sees this is an impassionate plea to calm down emotions, others will see this as an illustration that the party doesn't seem to have any workable solutions to resolve the land question in the country.

    Organised groups such as the Landless People's Movement and the Job Amupanda-led Affirmative Repositioning Movement have not only questioned the intensity of the land reform programme, but have highlighted the questionable allocation of resettlement farms, as well as urban land, to those who are either politically well connected or already part of the political power base.

    This is what Swapo is not addressing at the moment, which only leads to frustration on the part of those who feel hard done by.

    The debate about ancestral land can wait to be fully unpacked at the second land conference, given the due diligence and thoroughness that must be taken into consideration to handle this sensitive issue. But it is unfair for Swapo to tell people to wait, presumably until the land conference takes place, for government to address the alleged corruption plaguing the land resettlement process, and by extension, also the allocation of serviced plots in urban areas.

    The Swapo leadership must step out of its cocoon and demonstrate leadership when it matters most, otherwise its commitment to fighting corruption will forever be questioned.

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  • 02/22/17--14:00: Maltahöhe mess deepens
  • Maltahöhe mess deepensMaltahöhe mess deepensGovernor accused of ignoring ACC report The Hardap governor has been accused of attempting to cover up alleged corrupt practices at the Maltahöhe Village Council. The governor of the Hardap Region, Esme Isaack, in direct disregard of the findings and recommendations made by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), last Friday dispatched a team of regional councillors and instructed the Maltahöhe village councillors not to take action against two council employees.

    The pretext of the regional council team's visit was to investigate a complaint made by council employee Geronino Tise against the newly appointed acting CEO, Marianna Pieters.

    The governor's regional investigation team consisted of councillors Eduard Wambo of the Rehoboth Urban Constituency, Hercules Jantze of Daweb Constituency and Jan Jaarzhen of the Aranos Constituency.

    Jaarzhen is allegedly a brother-in-law to one of the employees listed in the ACC report.

    Tise allegedly complained about Pieters' bias towards him, accusing her of presenting false information to the ACC.

    Pieters alerted the ACC about irregularities in the awarding of a council tender for the construction of the fire station at the village. The governor is, according to sources, acting against Pieters merely because she revealed information about Tise's alleged irregular activities to the anti-graft agency.

    “Who is the governor trying to protect? The interest of the government and the Maltahöhe village community or the suspected fraudsters?” an elderly community member, who requested anonymity, wanted to know.

    In the preliminary findings of its investigation into alleged corrupt practices in relation to the non-procedural awarding of work and payment of N$160 000 to the company Arcon for the construction of a fire station at the village, the ACC recommended disciplinary procedures against the CEO and electrician with immediate effect.

    Tise allegedly, after the completion of the ACC investigation into the irregular awarding of a tender wherein he was implicated, wrote a letter of complaint to the regional council alleging bias by Pieters towards him.

    This complaint was never forwarded to the Maltahöhe Village Council who is the appointing authority of the complainant and they allegedly heard it upon the arrival of the regional investigation team.



    Order

    Approached for comment, Isaack confirmed that she instructed the chairperson of the management committee of the Hardap Regional Council, Wambo, to investigate the complaint she received from Tise.

    However, when asked whether she knew that Tise was found by ACC to have contravened provisions of the Tender Board Act and that the ACC had recommended disciplinary action against him, the governor denied that she received a report containing the ACC findings.

    “I will not further make any comments. Don't ask me any questions. “What is this questioning all about?”

    Councillor Elisabeth Visser emphasised that the complaint should have been forwarded through the council office and be dealt with through its grievance procedures.

    “We only heard about the letter as the purpose of the regional team's visit when they arrived,” she said.

    However, based on the said letter the governor instructed that the appointment of Pieters as acting CEO be withdrawn.

    She allegedly suggested that an official of the Hardap Regional Council should act in that capacity.



    Not giving up

    The Maltahöhe Village Council, however, informed the visiting regional team that they are going ahead with the ACC recommended disciplinary action against Tise and the former acting CEO Otto Richards.

    The two men, according to the findings of the ACC, violated the tender board procedures and personnel regulations.

    Richards and Tise allegedly irregularly awarded the tender for the construction of a Fire Station at the village.

    The Anti-Corruption Commission's investigation found that they received N$48 000 as kickbacks. Former councillor Markus Saal from the above amount allegedly received N$10 000 and was further promised livestock.

    It is further alleged that the company, LN Perfect Builders paid Tise N$35 000 with which he is said to have purchased a Golf motor vehicle which is currently in his possession.

    Meanwhile, the external hard drive of the Maltahöhe village council computer containing the financial records has reportedly been stolen.

    The council has opened a case of theft.



    FRED GOEIEMAN

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    Joker's murder trial in AprilJoker's murder trial in April The trial of a Windhoek resident, who allegedly shot and killed a Finnish man during a road rage incident in 2015, begins in the High Court on 10 April this year.

    Danne Rodney Shaningwa, 43, made his fourth appearance yesterday morning before High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg during a pre-trial conference of case management review, when he was informed about the date of the trial.

    The date was decided in court on Wednesday by Shaningwa's privately-instructed defence lawyer, Slysken Makando and State representative, Deputy Prosecutor-General Antonia Verhoef.

    The Office of the Prosecutor-General on 29 August 2016 transferred Shaningwa's case from the Windhoek Magistrate's Court to the High Court. Shaningwa faces three charges namely murder, failure to report an accident within 24 hours after its occurrence and defeating the course of the administration of justice for hiding his sedan vehicle allegedly involved in the accident.

    Police arrested him at his family home in Windhoek on 11 August 2015 after being on the run for almost two days.

    Shaningwa allegedly fired nine rounds from his pistol, killing Ronni Marco Kristian Uolevi, 42, at around 00:30 on 9 August 2015.

    Uolevi allegedly drove into the back of Shaningwa's car in front of Joker's Pizzeria and Sports Bar in Bell Street.

    After the shooting, Shaningwa allegedly got back into his car and drove off.

    The pistol allegedly used during the incident was recovered by investigating officers at the time of his arrest.

    Shaningwa remains in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility with no option to post bail, after being refused bail at the end of his formal bail application in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in August 2015.

    NAMPA

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