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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

older | 1 | .... | 272 | 273 | (Page 274) | 275 | 276 | .... | 1152 | newer

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    Law association denies exclusion claimsLaw association denies exclusion claims The recently revived Namibia Law Association (NLA) vehemently denies that it is excluding white men, as is alleged by certain members of the legal fraternity.

    It was alleged that all lawyers, except white men, were invited to attend the NLA's re-launch on Saturday, 25 February.

    A member of the newly installed governing council of the NLA, Uno Katjipuka, flatly denied this claim.

    “This is absolutely and completely incorrect,” retorted Katjipuka. “Everyone supporting the objectives of the NLA was invited.”

    She said she had seen at least one white man at the event and surmised that there might have been more.

    Katjipuka did acknowledge that the NLA had approached specific people and that invitation letters had been sent out, but stressed that although most of the NLA members were from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, the voluntary association was not exclusively for them.

    In fact, Richard Metcalfe, a white man, was a founding member of the NLA, she said.

    “The NLA is not concerned with who is white and who is black, but rather with who is aligned with our objectives and how to best achieve them. The closest we come to being concerned with race is the fact that most, but not all of our members, come from what we Namibians call previously disadvantaged backgrounds and the main targets of our various objectives are previously disadvantaged Namibians,” said Katjipuka.



    A white male lawyer preferring anonymity, who is adamant that the NLA sidelines - if not excludes - white men, said: “As a country we must decide whether we proceed as a segregated, discriminatory society or as a unified nation. It serves no purpose to speak about unity, but we establish entities and actively promote the interest of certain persons based on the colour of their skin or their tribe of origin, to the detriment of other Namibians.”

    He went on to say that racially divisive practices stemmed from many years of political rhetoric, which he said had now “unfortunately infiltrated the realm of civil society” such as the NLA.

    “We cannot find unity if our actions are divisive,” he said.

    Katjipuka said at the re-launch that the NLA was revived because while a “good, perhaps even substantial, number of previously disadvantaged legal practitioners have gained prominent status and respect among the legal fraternity and financial security” it “does not mean that the original goals have been achieved”.

    One of these goals is to achieve a “fully represented judiciary”.

    “It simply means a judiciary whose makeup is representative of the Namibian people,” said Katjipuka, adding that women are still “very” underrepresented on the bench.

    “There needs to be more female judges,” Katjipuka said. “Where judges come from has an impact on how they approach cases on the bench.”

    Another matter the NLA wants to be addressed is the prohibitively expensive legal services and the fact that most people are uninformed of their legal rights and how to protect those, she said.

    “Having said all that, we do not apologise for having organised the NLA or that most of us come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds or that we have decided to do what we consider to be our duty, which is to do everything we can to effect meaningful social change in the lives of ordinary Namibians who for the most part are not only previously disadvantaged, but who continue to be disadvantaged because they do not have adequate access to the legal system,” said Katjipuka.

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    Bill could scare off whistleblowersBill could scare off whistleblowersSection is 'blatantly unconstitutional' Another section of the Whistleblower Protection Bill being debated in the National Assembly has been harshly criticised by watchdogs. Serious concerns have been raised about several sections of the Whistleblower Protection Bill, which experts say could sabotage the intention of the bill by scaring off potential whistleblowers.

    The latest clause that has raised concern is section 52.1 (d), which allows the commissioner to “revoke whistleblower protection … if he or she is of the opinion [that] the disclosure of improper conduct principally involves questioning the merits of government policy, including the policy of a public body.”

    Lawyer Norman Tjombe, an outspoken advocate for human rights, described this section as “blatantly unconstitutional” yesterday.

    He said in his view this section, along with the excessive penalties and jail time for false reporting, which he said were also unconstitutional, would “in fact discourage people from disclosing suspected cases of corruption, especially if there is a perception that such corrupt practices are official policy”.

    In fact, both sections “will not advance the cause of the anti-corruption drive, but will ensure that fewer and fewer people will be willing to expose themselves to the wrath of this law.”











    He explained that without the “incentive of protection against what would invariably be powerful people”, potential whistleblowers will not risk reporting corruption “to the detriment of everyone.”

    He warned that there was even a risk that the provision could be used to “target opposition parties and vocal social activists, who invariably complain that certain spending priorities or the allocation of resources to certain individuals or entities are tantamount to corruption.”

    The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) yesterday also criticised the section of the bill, which it said “in essence says that a whistleblower can have their protection revoked if they are critical of government policy. On the face of it, this seems to be both unacceptable and unconstitutional.”

    IPPR director Graham Hopwood said in addition to the other concerns that had been raised about the bill, the IPPR recommended that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted.

    “The IPPR believes there are enough serious concerns about the drafting of this bill to warrant it being referred to a standing committee for public hearings.”

    Toni Hancox, director of the Legal Assistance Centre yesterday, said the section that granted permission to withdraw protection when government policy was questioned “does not fit in a constitutional and open society. Are we not entitled to question what is done with taxpayer money?”

    Yesterday the bill was debated in parliament for the second time, with some expressing worry that the government intended to pass the bill as quickly as possible, before any of its flaws could be addressed.



    Since the tabling of the bill last month, many have praised aspects of the proposed legislation, emphasising that it is long overdue.



    Nevertheless, several clauses of the bill are said to be worrying.



    “The IPPR is concerned that some parts of the bill miss their mark. Of particular concern are the lack of independence for various bodies and disproportionate punishments for false reporting,” the policy think tank stated on its website.



    The IPPR explained that if the whistleblower agencies to be established were perceived to be a function of government instead of independent and impartial, “they will not gain credibility with the public.”



    Anti-Corruption Commission director Paulus Noa yesterday referred Namibian Sun to the Minister of Justice, Albert Kawana, for comment. The minister could not be reached for comment.

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    Judgement deferred in airport hearingJudgement deferred in airport hearing Judgement was deferred by Chief Justice Peter Shivute this afternoon in the Supreme Court in the billion dollar tender for the upgrade of the Hosea Kutako International Airport.
    Chinese construction firm Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group won the bid for the upgrade of the airport, estimated to cost upwards of N$7 billion at the time.
    Acting on the instructions of Petrus Elago, Senior Counsel Calsim Nazeer argued that government had interfered by stopping the Airports Company from carrying its activities. He also argued that the Namibia Airports Company acknowledged that the upgrade of the airport would be financed by way of a concession which government would guarantee.
    Representing government, defence lawyer Sisa Namandje argued that although it was the responsibility of the Namibia Airports Company to upgrade the airport, in terms of the State Finances Act and because it did not have sufficient funding to complete the project. He also informed the court that neither cabinet nor the minister of finance ever approved a loan for the upgrade of the airport.
    The appeal was heard by Chief Justice Peter Shivute, Judge Sylvester Mainga and Judge Dave Smuts who chose to reserve judgement.
    Lawyers Werner Boesak and Sandra Vries assisted Nazeer while Namandje was assisted by Nambili Mhata.

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    Fredericksburg turns himself over to IOC ethics commission Fredericksburg turns himself over to IOC ethics commission Former Olympic sprinter Frankie Fredericks has turned himself over to the IOC ethics commission following a French newspaper report linking him to a payment from a man who has been banned for life from track and field for corruption.

    The payment of $299,300 to an offshore company linked to Fredericks came in 2009 on the day that Rio de Janeiro was awarded hosting rights for the 2016 Olympics, French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday.

    Fredericks, a Namibian sprinter who won silver medals in the 100 and 200 meters at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, is a member of the International Olympic Committee and currently the head of the evaluation commission for the 2024 Olympics.

    "He informed the IOC and explained the situation and emphasized his innocence immediately upon being contacted by the journalist," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in an email.

    "The IOC trusts that Mr. Fredericks will bring all the elements to prove his innocence against these allegations made by Le Monde."

    According to the newspaper report, Matlock Capital Group paid $1.5 million to Pamodzi Consulting, a company founded by Papa Massata Diack, ahead of the 2016 Olympic hosting vote and transferred another $500,000 to Diack's Russian bank account. Diack is a former marketing director at the IAAF and son of the organization's former president, Lamine Diack.

    Both Diacks are being investigated by French prosecutors on corruption charges linked to covering up Russian doping cases in a separate scandal. Papa Massata Diack was banned for life as part of that investigation.

    Matlock Capital Group, the newspaper says, is a holding company linked to Brazilian businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho.

    Le Monde says Diack transferred $299,300 to Yemi Limited, the company linked to Fredericks, on October 2, the same day Rio won a vote to host the 2016 Olympics and bring the games to South America for the first time.

    "The IOC has taken note of the serious allegations ... regarding the vote to select the host city of the Olympic Games 2016," Adams said. "The IOC is 'Partie Civile' to the ongoing procedure initiated by the French Judicial authorities against former IAAF President Mr. Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack, the then marketing consultant of the IAAF. The IOC remains fully committed to clarifying this situation, working in cooperation with the prosecutor."

    The IOC said Fredericks, who had a marketing contract with Pamodzi Sports Consulting from 2007-11, had already turned himself over to the IAAF ethics commission as well.
    Nampa/AP

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    Fredericks turns himself over to IOC ethics commission Fredericks turns himself over to IOC ethics commission Former Olympic sprinter Frankie Fredericks has turned himself over to the IOC ethics commission following a French newspaper report linking him to a payment from a man who has been banned for life from track and field for corruption.

    The payment of $299,300 to an offshore company linked to Fredericks came in 2009 on the day that Rio de Janeiro was awarded hosting rights for the 2016 Olympics, French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday.

    Fredericks, a Namibian sprinter who won silver medals in the 100 and 200 meters at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, is a member of the International Olympic Committee and currently the head of the evaluation commission for the 2024 Olympics.

    "He informed the IOC and explained the situation and emphasized his innocence immediately upon being contacted by the journalist," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in an email.

    "The IOC trusts that Mr. Fredericks will bring all the elements to prove his innocence against these allegations made by Le Monde."

    According to the newspaper report, Matlock Capital Group paid $1.5 million to Pamodzi Consulting, a company founded by Papa Massata Diack, ahead of the 2016 Olympic hosting vote and transferred another $500,000 to Diack's Russian bank account. Diack is a former marketing director at the IAAF and son of the organization's former president, Lamine Diack.

    Both Diacks are being investigated by French prosecutors on corruption charges linked to covering up Russian doping cases in a separate scandal. Papa Massata Diack was banned for life as part of that investigation.

    Matlock Capital Group, the newspaper says, is a holding company linked to Brazilian businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho.

    Le Monde says Diack transferred $299,300 to Yemi Limited, the company linked to Fredericks, on October 2, the same day Rio won a vote to host the 2016 Olympics and bring the games to South America for the first time.

    "The IOC has taken note of the serious allegations ... regarding the vote to select the host city of the Olympic Games 2016," Adams said. "The IOC is 'Partie Civile' to the ongoing procedure initiated by the French Judicial authorities against former IAAF President Mr. Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack, the then marketing consultant of the IAAF. The IOC remains fully committed to clarifying this situation, working in cooperation with the prosecutor."

    The IOC said Fredericks, who had a marketing contract with Pamodzi Sports Consulting from 2007-11, had already turned himself over to the IAAF ethics commission as well.
    Nampa/AP

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     Gambia's Barrow allows coup plotters back into arm Gambia's Barrow allows coup plotters back into arm Gambian President Adama Barrow has allowed six soldiers convicted of plotting a coup against former leader Yahya Jammeh back into the armed forces, a military source told AFP on Saturday.

    Jammeh survived several coup attempts in his 22-year rule, with one of the most serious arising in 2014 when mutinous soldiers attempted to take control of the presidential palace while he was out of the country.

    "The military high command has in consultation with President Adama Barrow reinstated Lt Buba Sanneh, Private Modou Njie, Lt Sarjo Jarju, Captain Abdoulie Jobe, Lieutenant Amadou Sowe and Buba Bojang in the army," the high-level source who requested anonymity told AFP.

    All six men were convicted and sentenced by a military court in April 2015, with three given death sentences. Their appeals were still pending with the country's Supreme Court when Barrow granted them amnesty last month.

    The six men have already begun work, the source added.

    The December 30, 2014 coup attempt saw a group of heavily armed men storm the presidential palace in Banjul before being repelled by forces loyal to Jammeh.

    Jammeh is now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea after losing a December election to Barrow.

    He refused to recognise the result of the historic polls until the threat of west African military intervention to remove him forced the mercurial leader from power.

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  • 03/05/17--14:00: Happy days are here again
  • Happy days are here againHappy days are here again FULL STOMACHS: These three donkeys were spotted grazing in an oshana along the Omafo-Outapi road at the weekend. Heavy rain has fallen in the Omusati, Ohangwena and Oshana regions in recent days, spelling relief for farmers who have had to travel dozens of kilometres with their livestock in search of water. PHOTO: KENYA KAMBOWE

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    Zooming in on the Tafel Lager sponsorshipZooming in on the Tafel Lager sponsorship The Namibia Breweries sponsorship of a South African rugby outfit has been met with mixed reactions in the past days. Rightly so, some Namibians, including the main opposition party, DTA, have strongly criticised the sponsorship deal. It must be said that the sponsorship comes at a very difficult time for Namibia sport. It has been a torrid two years for local sportsmen and women and there appears to be no end in sight. The sport challenges are huge. With government unable to honour its financial obligation to various sporting codes due to budget cuts at the ministry of sport, the sector finds itself in a crisis of epic proportions. Football, the number one sport in the country, has not been spared and sponsors like MTC have actually ditched the Namibia Premier League (NPL) after the latter failed to get another sponsor on board. So it is a very sensitive period for Namibia sport in general and we do sympathise with those who have been vocal against the Tafel Lager sponsorship to the Griquas. NBL has argued that the move to sponsor the Griquas was an opportunity to establish the Tafel Lager brand in South Africa. However, many feel that the company was supposed to prove that charity begins at home by rescuing stranded sporting codes in the country in a form of a sponsorship. It is correct that the NBL reserves the right to sponsor whoever it deems fit. It is not our place to dictate to them how they should invest their money. But such an unprecedented sponsorship deal will undoubtedly raise questions. The Tafel Lager sponsorship will not be reversed anymore, but going forward, it is high time that all stakeholders pull in one direction. The government must play a key role in showing strong support to the sector by compelling local companies to invest in sport development. However, we will not be able to attract record levels of corporate funding if sport administration is in shambles. Sponsors want to see a return on their investments. And if we want to see corporate investment flooding into the sports sector we need competent administrators to run sport on sound management principles.

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  • 03/05/17--14:00: Sign Shop cuts staff pay
  • Sign Shop cuts staff paySign Shop cuts staff payTries to preserve jobs in tough times Employees of the Sign Shop Group in Windhoek say they would rather be laid off than have their work hours and salaries halved. Some employees of the Sign Shop Group are unhappy with management's decision to reduce their working hours, and thus their monthly salaries, by about 50%.

    Representing the 20 workers picketing near the company premises on Thursday, private labour consultant Elbert Pogisho told Nampa he had written a letter to management last month to express the workers' unhappiness about being forced to work less and be paid less.

    Pogisho said the workers had proposed that the company retrench them if it could not afford to pay them, but according to him the Sign Shop Group refused to do that.

    In a statement issued on Thursday, general manager Beverly Jandrell-Uren said the economic downturn had left the wholly-owned Namibian group of companies with no choice but to reduce working hours to 4.5 per day and, therefore, salaries would be reduced as well.

    “Clients are cancelling projects, regular clients are shelving work and in general the tone of the economy is down.”

    She said the 134 employees of the eight entities such as Sign Shop, Xtreme Print and Stamp, and Eshisha were informed in October 2016 of the possible measure to ensure their employment.

    “It would be short sighted for the owners to consider drastic measures such as retrenchment at this time without considering the well-being of employees and the families whom they support,” Jandrell-Uren said.

    The picketing employees were mainly manual labourers who work in the workshop or on sites and earn between N$2 000 and N$4 000 per month.

    They were denied entry to the company's premises in the Southern Industrial Area on Thursday and said they were not given the opportunity to speak with management.

    Pogisho said management refused to speak to him too. He said they were not planning industrial action that could potentially be deemed illegal.

    He said the employees were adamant that they would prefer to be retrenched and receive severance packages so that they could look for employment elsewhere if the company could not afford to pay them for a full day's work.

    Employee Asser Mbaukuua told Nampa that earning half of his N$2 000 salary would make life difficult.

    “Don't cut our money, just leave our salaries as they are,” Mbaukuua pleaded.

    The statement from the group of companies quotes executive director Ernie Rix saying they as employers have the responsibility to ensure employment, in whatever format and for as long as possible.

    “Our teams are doing everything possible for the continuation and financial viability of all the business units,” Rix said.



    NAMPA

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    Rumblings over de-bushing tenderRumblings over de-bushing tender The director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Paulus Noa, says the body is still considering whether to investigate how a joint venture was given the tender for de-bushing at Katima Farm and the Liselo irrigation project in the Zambezi Region.

    A formal complaint was made to the ACC which alleged that the tender was awarded to the MK Capital Investment/Okatombo Investment joint venture despite the fact that neither of these entities was an SME, which purportedly was a requisite condition of the tender award.

    Neither of the companies had submitted an SME certificate with their applications.

    However, after perusing the tender documents, Noa on Monday said there was no SME requirement. He said the ACC was not yet clear whether a full investigation would be launched because there had not been any complaint of corruption.

    Mathias Kanana Kamati and Leonard Nangolo Iipumbu are members or shareholders of MK Capital and Okatombo respectively.

    Kamati was adamant that MK Capital and his joint-venture partner were registered as SMEs and that all relevant certificates were submitted with the tender applications.

    MK Capital is listed as an SME on the website of the Construction Industries Federation (CIF). Okatombo is not listed on that site.



    Sub-subcontracting

    The manner in which the tender was passed on to other subcontractors has, however, raised eyebrows.

    The tender was advertised around the middle of last year. The Tender Bulletin then observed that only 14 of the 47 applicants were builders or plant contractors and that the only Chinese contractor was tax non-compliant.

    The Tender Bulletin reported that the notice for the tender restricted participation to entities with 51% Namibian ownership, of which 30% was to be from previously disadvantaged groups. Others would automatically be disqualified.

    The tender notice further stipulated that preference would be given to tenderers who offered market-related prices and to Namibian corporations or nationals. The bids ranged from N$4.8 million to a whopping N$441.7 million. The MK Capital Investment and Okatombo Investment joint venture tendered for N$26.3 million.

    The work consisted mainly of bush clearing and deep ripping and mechanical levelling of irrigation fields.

    The joint venture had indicated that KK Target Trading, a registered SME, would act as subcontractor on the job.

    However, a few months after the tender was awarded in October, Uundenge Investments CC owned by Laban Kandume emerged as the subcontractor.

    Uundenge Investments had not applied for the tender to begin with, but in January it had entered as the “main contractor” into a “farm trees sale agreement” with the Chinese company New Force Logistics CC owned by the alleged wildlife and timber trafficker Hou Xue Cheng, presumably for the de-bushing of the Katima Farm and Liselo irrigation scheme.

    An expert in government's tendering procedures, who preferred anonymity, observed that this type of “sub-subcontracting” was questionable and highly irregular. This expert also mentioned that it sounded “very fishy” for Uundenge to have presented itself as the “main contractor” on the job.

    This expert suggested that the ACC should probably investigate the tender itself, the contract signed with the agriculture ministry, as well as the “strange agreement” between Uundenge and New Force Logistics.

    Kamati said only a portion of the overall scope of the de-bushing tender had been subcontracted to Uundenge.

    “Only the removal of the trees was subcontracted to Uundenge,” said Kamati.



    He did not say anything about the involvement of New Force Logistic.

    Noa said the fact that Uundenge presented itself as the main contractor on the job and the subcontracting, or sub-subcontracting, of this job were not subject to an ACC investigation because no formal complaint had been made in this regard.

    CATHERINE SASMAN

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    Brazilian warship docks at Walvis Bay Brazilian warship docks at Walvis Bay OTIS FINCK

    The public was afforded an opportunity to get a taste of life on board the Brazilian Navy’s offshore patrol vessel BNS Apa (P121) in the port of Walvis Bay over the weekend.

    The vessel, which is classified as a light corvette, departed from the naval base of Rio de Janeiro on 20 February and arrived in Walvis Bay on 3 March to participate in the ‘Obangame Express 2017’ exercise involving military personnel from Africa, Europe and America.

    BNS Apa (P121) will carry out exercises off the coast of Angola, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo during the annual naval operation.

    It will also visit the ports of São Tome, Luanda, Douala, Accra and Dakar during the exercise, which serves to train African countries in the protection of the Gulf of Guinea and to enable participating countries to provide maritime security against piracy, drugs and arms trafficking, hijacking, illegal fishing and other illicit activities in the region.

    Twelve military personnel from several navies, including two officers from the Namibian Navy, will be on board in order to compare procedures during the operation from 20 to 31 March.

    Maritime interdiction operations, approach techniques and medical, meteorological and weapons training will take place with the boarding team of the participating African countries as part of the exercise.

    The BNS Apa has an 80-man crew plus accommodation for 40 troops. The vessel is designed to perform a range of special operations and maritime law enforcement tasks. Its firepower consists of one 30mm cannon, two 25mm cannons and two 12.7mm machine guns.

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    Derailed train disrupts services Derailed train disrupts services OTIS FINCK

    A train en route to Walvis Bay from Tsumeb derailed approximately 40km before Kranzberg station during the early hours of Friday morning.

    Freight and passengers services between Otjiwarongo and Kranzberg were suspended until further notice.

    TransNamib spokesperson Zebby Mukungu said flooding had caused substantial damage to the railway.

    “Our teams are hard at work to attend to equipment recovery efforts, earthworks and the rehabilitation of the railway line and accompanying infrastructure.”

    Mukungu could not give an estimate of the cost of the damage; neither could he indicate when the line would be reopened.

    Reports indicate that the train was pulled by three locomotives and consisted of goods and empty passenger wagons. Only the locomotives derailed and the drivers escaped without any serious injuries.

    The same thing happened on 23 February when a TransNamib locomotive derailed near Dune7 on the outskirts of Walvis Bay.

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    School feeding boosts Namibian kidsSchool feeding boosts Namibian kidsFresh produce may be added to school meals A study undertaken by the education ministry shows that there would be multiple benefits to diversifying schools meals to include local produce. JANA-MARI SMITH



    The Namibian school feeding programme could be boosted with the introduction of produce from local farms and the implementation of the school feeding policy.

    Speaking on Friday at the second annual Africa Day of School Feeding celebrations, education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa explained that preliminary results from a feasibility study undertaken by the ministry and partners indicated that there would be multiple benefits to diversifying schools meals to include local produce.

    “If it does happen, this will have a double benefit. Firstly, it will diversify school meals and increase the nutrition intake of food by learners, and secondly, it will increase income for smallholding farmers.”

    The minister said a draft school feeding policy had been completed and was due for management review and subsequent ratification by the government.

    “It is my belief that this policy will help streamline and strengthen the implementation of the school feeding programme,” Hanse-Himarwa said.

    More than 330 000 learners in 1 400 pre-primary and primary schools are currently on Namibia’s school feeding programme.

    The Kunene, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions top the list of regions in need of school feeding support.

    Through the school feeding programme, learners receive a daily plate of fortified maize meal blend, which is aimed at helping address short-term hunger or other nutritional shortcomings, particularly for children from vulnerable communities

    The education ministry last week confirmed that there was a need to provide a similar programme for secondary school learners, “because the vulnerability and hunger state of a child in primary school does not change once they go to secondary school.”

    Moreover, a spokesperson explained that the school feeding programme addressed “hidden hunger and provides micro-nutrients needed for a child’s growth and development”, which included children from middle- and high-income families.

    “I want to dispel the misconception that school feeding is for poor people … even a child from a well-off family needs school feeding because this child may be provided with ‘junk’ food at home, devoid of the nutrition which they can get from the school feeding programme,” Johanna Absalom said.

    She said the school feeding programme aimed to provide good nutrition for all learners.

    Hanse-Himarwa said one of the main benefits of school feeding programmes was the impact on school attendance and the reduction of school dropout rates.

    Access to a daily nutritious meal furthermore improves learning, cognitive capacity, concentration and contributes to improved overall performance.

    She added that for many children in Namibia, the daily plate of maize from the Namibia school feeding programme was “one of the main meals of the day.”

    The second Africa Day of School Feeding was celebrated under the banner ‘Home-grown School Feeding: Investment in Youth and Children to Harness the Demographic Dividend’.

    Under the theme, the idea is that school feeding is a crucial investment for any country and not just a spending of national resources.

    “It reinforces the fact that school feeding has short-, medium- and long-term dividends for our children,” the minister said.

    Jennifer Bitonde, a representative in Namibia of the World Food Programme, said 370 million schoolchildren received food every day through their governments.

    “School feeding is a vital safety net for protection against hunger and poverty,” she said.

    In sub-Saharan Africa, “where the needs are highest and the coverage is lowest, only 30 million children receive food at school,” she said.

    That is one of the reasons behind the decision by African heads of state to adopt the home-grown school feeding strategy to address the gap, she said.

    She praised the Namibian government’s commitment and the fact that 330 000 learners were beneficiaries of the programme.

    She said a cost-benefit analysis conducted in 15 countries had shown that for every single dollar invested in school meals, a return of about U$10 was recorded.

    “You can see that countries cannot afford not to invest in school feeding because the return on investment is hard to ignore.”

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    Little money for Wildlife Protection ServiceLittle money for Wildlife Protection Service Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta recently briefed the National Assembly on the work his ministry was doing to stem wildlife poaching.

    This was in response to a query from opposition MP Mike Kavekotora of the Rally for Democracy and Progress, who had asked to be briefed on matters related to poaching.

    Shifeta updated Kavekotora on the progress his ministry had made with regard to the establishment of a protection service, efforts to change legislation relating to the protection of wildlife and reported incidents of poaching in 2016 and 2017.

    “The current legislation that deals with wildlife protection and law enforcement matters, the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975, is being reviewed and strengthened to a Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Bill. It is our hope that this review will be finalised during the next financial year. Fines and penalties for poaching and other related offences are being increased to enhance their deterrent effect. The relevant amendment bill is now with the National Assembly,” the minister said.

    He mentioned the creation of a Wildlife Protection Service, for which recruitment had commenced.

    “With the support of the Office of the Prime Minister, we were granted 495 additional posts to establish a dedicated Wildlife Protection Service for which the requirement process has commenced.

    “Unfortunately, no additional budget was granted for filling these posts for which we have had to rely on internal savings. We are now working on a domestic and international fundraising strategy as our resources will not be sufficient to sustain the intense level of counter-poaching activities.

    “In 2016 and 2017 [year-to-date], 226 cases of rhino and elephant poaching as well as illegal possession of rhino horn and elephant tusks have been registered; 231 suspects have been arrested and 45 are foreign nationals. It is also true that some Chinese nationals are involved in some of these illegal activities and mainly they have been caught for illegal possession of or trading in rhino horns and elephant tusks. [The Ministry] has been engaged with the Chinese authorities in discussing this matter and finding solutions and we will continue to do so,” said Shifeta.

    According to him, 210 rhinos and 228 elephants were poached during the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, while 231 suspects were arrested, of whom 45 were foreign nationals.

    “We remain committed in the conservation of our wildlife and protection thereof. Our officials are on the ground and we will do all what is possible in ensuring that our wildlife is protected,” he said.





    STAFF REPORTER

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    Switchboard scam costs companies millionsSwitchboard scam costs companies millionsPhreaking is the new threat Namibian companies have lost more than N$6 million – and some say up to N$17 million – after their switchboards were hacked by “phreaking” syndicates. International hacking syndicates have cost medium to large Namibian businesses more than N$6 million in fraudulent phone calls in February alone.

    A number of companies have fallen prey to international syndicates who hack into Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems, racking up between millions of dollars in unauthorised phone calls at the expense of the businesses.

    This switchboard fraud is known as “phreaking” and takes place when hackers gain unauthorised entry to vulnerable telecommunications systems.

    Telecom Namibia spokesperson Oiva Angula said on Friday that reported losses due to phreaking amounted to more than N$6 million, with the single largest loss reported to be in excess of N$2 million at an unidentified company.

    A local insurance company was shocked to learn that it owed Telecom close to N$500 000 in late February.

    Angula said only “a few” companies had been hacked to date and that Telecom technicians were working around the clock to help protect all PBX customers.

    He could not confirm the exact number of companies affected, but unofficial sources said at least seven institutions had been hacked and there are unconfirmed reports that as much as N$17 million in fraudulent calls have been reported since January.

    Angula explained that the legal liability for international call charges rested with customers, “so it is important that they remain vigilant regarding their PABX security.”

    A meeting is scheduled for today, organised by affected businesses and concerned parties interested in learning how to prevent phreaking. Representatives of Telecom and the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia are expected to attend.

    Angula explained that PBX hackers target systems that are vulnerable to unauthorised access, including call forwarding, call prompting and call processing features.

    “But the most common ways phreakers enter a company's PBX is through Direct Inward Systems Access (DISA) and voicemail systems. They often search a company's rubbish for directories or call detail reports that contain a company's own numbers and PBX authorisation codes.”

    Once the hackers have obtained the numbers and codes they can call into the PBX and place calls out to other locations.

    Angula warned that in many cases the “PBX is only the first point of entry for such criminals. They can also use the PBX to access a company's data system. Call-sell operators can even hide their activities from law enforcement officials by using PBX-looping, using one PBX to place calls out through another PBX in another country.”

    That was one of the reasons why phreaking was difficult to investigate, Angula said.

    “As you can imagine the police authorities are hampered because so much of the problem is out of their jurisdiction. The developed world has recorded only a few successes of busting these syndicates,” he explained.

    Unconfirmed reports indicate that some of the incoming calls were made from Spain, Austria and the UK.

    Angula advised that there are a number of precautionary steps companies can take to prevent phreaking.

    These including installing VoIP technology, regularly changing voicemail pass codes and avoiding using predictable or generic pin codes.

    Companies are advised to disable call-through or set restrictions on the voicemail port. Moreover, inward direct dialling numbers should not be made available on a website where the public can access them, and companies should schedule routine PBX checks to assess the system vulnerabilities and minimise the chances of an attack.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    State Finance Act flouted in HKIA scandalState Finance Act flouted in HKIA scandal Local lawyer Sisa Namandje has suggested that the State Finance Act was flouted when he recently argued in an appeal case of the government versus Chinese construction firm Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (AFECC).

    AFECC won the bid for the upgrade and construction of Hosea Kutako International Airport, which was estimated to cost N$7 billion at the time.

    The government challenged the decision to grant the tender to AFECC in September last year. The challenge was shot down by Judge Shafimana Ueitele in the High Court when he ruled that there had been interference in the duties of works and transport minister Alpheus !Naruseb and the Namibia Airports Company when the tender was halted by President Hage Geingob.

    Making a case for the government, Namandje argued that the State Finance Act was flouted. “There was no decision by the minister [Schlettwein] or cabinet to approve a specific loan [or concession].”

    According to Namandje, the NAC also sought the assistance of the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance and the Chinese embassy. It was also argued that the minister of transport suggested that the funding would be handled by the treasury since the NAC did not have the financial means to carry out the upgrade of the airport. “One can clearly see that treasury support had not been given,” said Namandje.

    He continued, saying: “We are not contending that the NAC does not have the legal standing for the construction of the airport, [however] if you are bringing government to purchase, government procedures must be followed.”

    Appearing on behalf of AFECC, Senior counsel Casim Nazeer argued that Geingob had interfered in the duties of the Namibia Airports Company.

    “There is not a single document which suggests that because of interference, we do not want to go ahead. The NAC tender process was fair. The interference from the president was illegal.”

    Nazeer also denied that the NAC board and its chief executive officer had attempted to trigger section 7 of the State Finance Act by suggesting that the funding would be guaranteed by the treasury.

    “The NAC did not propose this, the NAC has at all times engaged government,” said Nazeer.

    Nazeer was instructed by law firm Tjombe and Elago, and was assisted by Werner Boesak and Sandra Vries.

    Namandje represented the government and was assisted by Nambili Mhata.

    Judges of Appeal Dave Smuts, Sylvester Mainga and Chief Justice Peter Shivute heard the appeal and reserved judgement.

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    Elephant numbers up, conflicts downElephant numbers up, conflicts downMitigation efforts seem to pay off Even though Namibia's elephant population is increasing, incidents of human-wildlife conflict are decreasing, statistics show. While Namibia's elephant population has been steadily growing it has of late been featured in the news for an incident of human-wildlife conflict and just last week an elephant was shot in the Erongo Region after killing a man.

    In the past 15 years there have been more than 11 000 conflict incidents between humans and elephants in the Zambezi Region, but if statistics is anything to go by it seems that even though the elephant population is increasing, incidents of human-wildlife conflict are decreasing.

    There are an estimated 22 754 elephants in Namibia, which account for 12% of the elephants in Southern Africa. Namibia has the third highest number of elephants in the region.

    The majority of the elephants occur in the Zambezi Region, which has an estimated 13 116 elephants, followed by the Kaudum National Park in the Kavango Region with 4 149 elephants.

    In the Nyae Nyae Conservancy there are an estimated 2 264 elephants and in Etosha National Park there are an estimated 2 9111 elephants, while in the Kunene Region there are about 314 elephants and in the Mangetti area there are an estimated 90 elephants.

    According to Werner Killian, chief conservation scientist for the Etosha National Park, the elephant population in Namibia has increased steadily over the years.

    Killian was speaking at the National Human-Wildlife Conflict Conference held last week on elephant population dynamics and management of human-elephant conflict in the country.

    Statistics indicate that since 2000 the elephant population in Namibia has grown from about 8 000 to more than 22 000 in 2015.

    Elephant conflict data show that the Zambezi Region is the major hotspot.

    According to statistics there have been 11 372 incidents of human-wildlife conflict with elephants in the region since 2001.

    According to Fidelis Lizumo, a community game guard for the Wuparo Conservancy in the Zambezi Region, from 2011 to 2015 there were 2 577 reported incidents where elephants had caused crop damage in the region.

    Killian said another area where elephants were a major problem was in the Kunene Region where between 2001 and 2016 there had been 3 113 incidents of human-wildlife conflict.

    Third on the list is the Omusati Region, where 777 incidents were reported during the same period, and the Kavango Region where there were 304 incidents between 2004 and 2014.

    In Otjozondjupa there were 183 conflict incidents between 2013 and 2015 and in Oshikoto there were 142 incidents of conflict with elephants.

    Erongo has had only 84 incidents since 2001 and Omaheke had six incidents between 2010 and 2012.

    Killian pointed out that when elephant population data and incidents over time are combined one would expect that high elephant numbers would cause more conflict.

    However, trend lines in the Zambezi Region indicate that over the years the population has increased, but incidents of conflict have decreased.

    According to him it could be that there is either not a true reflection of the reporting of conflicts, or that surveys are over- or underestimating the elephant population, or maybe the mitigation measures in place are working to prevent conflict.





    ELLANIE SMIT

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  • 03/05/17--14:00: Five die in road accidents
  • Five die in road accidentsFive die in road accidents Two people died at Brakwater north of Windhoek on Saturday when the car they were travelling in overturned.

    It is alleged that the driver of the Toyota Run-X hatchback lost control of the vehicle when a tyre burst. The vehicle overturned and killed 23-year-old Sofia Mwaandingi and 25-year-old Iipumbu Rehto. The driver and another passenger sustained minor injuries.

    Two pedestrians were killed on the Trans-Kalahari and Trans-Caprivi highways last week. Both deaths have been linked to alcohol abuse, according to NamPol spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi.

    In the Zambezi Region, Dingomba Mbasikora (65) died instantly when a truck ran him over. It is suspected that he was walking in the road when the incident occurred. A full two-litre container of alcohol was found next to his body. The driver fled the scene.

    At Witvlei, Otto Skrywer (44) was also run over in a hit-and-run incident. A container full of traditional brew was found next to Skrywer's body.

    No arrest has been made in either of the two cases.

    In the Erongo Region, an unlicensed 16-year-old boy overturned his father's car on the gravel road between Braunfels and Khorixas.

    A passenger identified as Armando !Aubeb (19) died instantly while another passenger, 18 years old, sustained minor injuries. The driver escaped unhurt. He has not yet been arrested in connection with the accident.

    STAFF REPORTER

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    Outjo protests Chinese donkey abattoirOutjo protests Chinese donkey abattoir A newly formed Outjo residents' group on Friday handed over a petition protesting the sale of land to a Chinese company that intends to build a donkey slaughterhouse at the town.

    The sale, which locals criticised sharply for its lack of transparency, led to the formation of the Outjo Community Committee (OCC) last week, with the aim of tackling the sale of land and the abattoir. Members of the OCC have appointed a legal advisor and say this is the first of several issues they intend to tackle as a community.

    The OCC has demanded that the municipality provide feedback on when and where the land was advertised and to indicate whether the company representative, known as 'Mr Chendabiek' is in Namibia legally.

    The OCC furthermore demands to know why the land for the abattoir was cleared before the sale was made public and why no public consultations on the abattoir have taken place to date.

    “We are not happy with the way the municipality is dealing with this matter. There has been no transparency and we have a right to know what is going on. It is after all the people living in Outjo who will have to live with this development,” residents noted in the minutes of the first committee meeting last week.





    The petition was launched in February, when news about the sale of land to Fuhai Enterprise, a company represented by a Chinese national, came to light. To date, more than 1 600 people have signed the petition.



    The petition states that the north-western town “does not want to be part of the donkey skin trade and trafficking to China” and points out that according to the business plan submitted by the Chinese, the abattoir plans to slaughter 120 animals per day, which could lead to a steep rise in donkey thefts and animal cruelty in the country, among numerous other concerns.



    The petition warns that Outjo has often been cited as one of Namibia's hotspots for poaching syndicates, and that the choice of location of the abattoir could likely act as a “front for other illegal activities.”



    The donkey skin trade has received increasing attention in recent years. Many countries in Africa have banned the export or slaughtering of donkeys after initially having approved it because the donkey population was decimated by organised trafficking of their hides to China, the petition states.



    A survey cited by the community found that Namibia's donkey population currently stands at about 150 000.



    “If, as per their business plan, they slaughter 120 donkeys per day, our donkeys will be exterminated within three-and-a-half years. What will be slaughtered then?” Outjo community members asked.



    Members of the OCC elected by residents last week include Lucky Nangombe, Phillimon Sheya, Jaco Muller, Corrie Smit, Maria Diekmann, Steven Maseka and Lindie Prinsloo.


    Zayne Koortz was given a mandate to act on behalf of the Outjo community committee, to respond and correspond with the Outjo Municipality.



    Residents have also asked that the municipality inform them whether an environmental impact assessment was conducted, or will be conducted, for the location of the abattoir, the use of natural resources to run the abattoir, including water, and the running of the abattoir.



    According to the Abattoirs Association in Namibia, around 2 500 litres of water is needed to slaughter one animal and it is estimated that in line with this Fuhai Enterprise will require at least 300 000 litres of water per day, amounting to 90 million litres of water per month.



    Moreover, residents want to know whether groundwater contamination had been investigated by the municipality before the abattoir was given the green light.



    “In Outjo, we also use groundwater sourced from boreholes. What will happen if our water supply is depleted or poisoned? Can the municipality guarantee this will not happen?” the residents asked at the meeting last week.



    According to the company intending to build the donkey abattoir, the donkeys they will slaughter will be imported from Botswana and the Kavango regions of Namibia, raising concerns about the spreading of animal diseases and who will monitor the imports.



    The meeting of the OCC last week looked at evidence that indicates that donkey populations around the world are increasingly under threat by a growing trade in “ejiao”, a gelatine that is made from donkey skin.

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  • 03/05/17--14:00: Frank under investigation
  • Frank under investigationFrank under investigationProbe launched into suspicious N$3.9m payment A French-led investigation is under way to find out whether large sums were paid to buy the votes that determined the host cities of the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. Namibian sprint legend Frank Fredericks is being investigated after having been paid nearly N$4 million by a disgraced International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) official.

    The international media reported on Friday that Fredericks had received US$299 300 (equivalent to N$3.9 million) from sports businessman Papa Massata Diack, the son of former International Olympics Committee (IOC) member and IAAF president Lamine Diack, in 2009.

    A French-led investigation is now under way to find out whether large sums were paid to buy the votes that determined the host cities of the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

    Rio de Janeiro hosted the 2016 Games, while Tokyo will host the 2020 Games.

    According to reports, authorities have reportedly discovered large amounts transferred from Brazil and Japan to a company and bank account linked to the Diacks. The younger Diack was banned for life from athletics last year for his part in the Russian doping scandal.





    Diack senior was also handed a lifetime ban and still being investigated by the French authorities on suspicion of accepting bribes to cover up positive tests in the wake of the Russian doping scandal.

    The Telegraph reports that US$299 300 was given by Diack to Fredericks through Diack's Pamodzi Sports Consulting firm. The money was reportedly paid to Yemi Limited, a company set up by Fredericks in the Seychelles.



    In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Fredericks defended the payment, saying it had “nothing whatsoever to do with the Olympic Games”.



    “The amount of US$300 000 paid by Pamodzi Sports Consulting to Yemi Limited was paid pursuant to the terms of a contract dated 11 March 2007,” Fredericks is quoted as saying by Le Monde.



    “I had the idea to develop a relay championship. In addition I supported the IAAF Marketing Programme, the African Athletics Programme, the IAAF Continental Programme and the African Athletics Championships.



    “My attendance at various events and promotional efforts are documented and accordingly these services can be substantiated by other evidence.



    “Payment was in respect of services rendered in the period 2007 to 2011. The payment has nothing whatsoever to do with the Olympic Games.



    “By the way, I was not an IAAF board member at the time, but an IAAF ambassador, and did not breach any regulation or rule of ethics.”



    Approached for comment yesterday by Namibian Sun, Fredericks said he was in a meeting.



    Fredericks chairs the IOC's evaluation commission for the 2024 Games and is expected to visit Los Angeles and the other remaining candidate, Paris, to assess their bids.



    Meanwhile, the IOC says it has taken note of the serious allegations against Fredericks and that the committee's ethics commission is pursuing the matter.



    “He [Fredericks] informed the IOC and explained the situation and emphasised his innocence immediately upon being contacted by the journalist,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams is quoted as saying.



    “The IOC trusts that Mr Fredericks will bring all the elements to prove his innocence against these allegations made by Le Monde.”



    Fredericks is a respected sprinting great and remains Namibia's only able-bodied athlete to win medal at the Olympic Games. He won four silver medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games.

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