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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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  • 03/22/17--15:00: Cape Town issues green bond
  • Cape Town issues green bondCape Town issues green bond The City of Cape Town will issue a green bond of up to N$1 billion, to be certified by the Climate Bonds Standard.

    Green or climate bonds are issued by governments or companies to finance measures to mitigate or adapt to climate change.

    Johannesburg became the first municipality in SA to do this in 2014, when it listed a N$1.46 billion green bond on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

    Cape Town has developed a Green Bond Framework, in which it identified a suite of eligible projects to fund with the proceeds of the bond.

    The projects are a mix of adaptation and mitigation initiatives, all of which are aligned to the city's climate change strategy.

    They include procurement of electric buses; energy efficiency in buildings; water management initiatives, including water meter installations and replacements, water pressure management, upgrades to reservoirs, sewage effluent treatment, and rehabilitation and protection of coastal structures.

    Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said this week: “While the projects earmarked for funding represent only a subset of the activities that the city delivers in this space, the fact that the city can raise a bond of this magnitude demonstrates that we are serious about delivering projects and programmes to address climate change and find innovative ways to diversify our project financing mix.”

    De Lille said she was hopeful the investor response would be favourable, given Cape Town's strong credit rating.

    In order to raise a green bond, the city needs to comply with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's debt listing requirements. These include council approval in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

    De Lille said the city intended to raise the bond during July.

    The mayoral committee received a report on Monday on the update of the domestic medium-term note programme in order to issue a green bond.

    The mayoral committee has now approved an update to the programme to facilitate the listing of the green bond.

    The report will be referred to the full council for a decision at the end of March.

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    Oppenheimers halve Anglo stakeOppenheimers halve Anglo stakeDiamond family seeks wealth elsewhere The Oppenheimer family's stake in mining conglomerate Anglo American has been reduced to 0.9%. E Oppenheimer & Son (EO&S), the Oppenheimer family's investment vehicle, sold half its shares in Anglo American in the December quarter, bringing its holding in the group to 0.9% from 1.8%.

    The sell-down occurred only months before last Thursday's announcement from Volcan Investments, the family trust of Vedanta founder Anil Agarwal, that it would take a 13% stake in Anglo via a bond underpinned by Anglo shares, partly bought on the open market and mainly borrowed from institutions.

    The last time EO&S sold Anglo shares was in December 2010, when it reduced its stake from 27.3 million shares to 25.2 million. The entity now holds 12.6 million shares.

    Although it is not known exactly when the sale took place, Anglo's shares ranged between a low of N$149 and a high of N$218 in the September quarter. If EO&S sold at the midpoint of about N$185, it would have realised about N$2.3 billion.

    James Teeger, the MD of EO&S, said the motivation for the Anglo sale was driven by valuation considerations.

    But even at its current share price of N$200, some analysts regard Anglo as undervalued compared with its peer group.

    In a note after the Agarwal transaction, Investec Securities wrote that Anglo offered the deepest value of all the major diversified mining companies because its unlisted assets, including De Beers, were reflected in the share price at only about 38% of Investec's fair value estimate.

    At the time that Investec wrote the note, Anglo's shares were at about N$204.

    Bloomberg lists 11 buy recommendations for Anglo shares against six sells. BHP Billiton has six buys and six sells, while Glencore has 13 buy recommendations and six sells. Anglo American was founded by Ernest Oppenheimer in 1917 with financing from US merchant bank JP Morgan. JP Morgan Chase is now the lead financier for Volcan's purchase of Anglo shares.

    For many years control of Anglo was maintained through a cross-shareholding structure in which De Beers, controlled by the Oppenheimer family, owned about a third of Anglo American, and Anglo owned about a third of De Beers.

    In 2011 Anglo bought the Oppenheimer family's 40% stake in De Beers for U$$5.1 billion.

    BUSINESS DAY

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    Agra profit declines minimallyAgra profit declines minimallyRecession affects bottom line Agra chief executive officer Arnold Klein is expecting challenging times ahead but is relishing the challenge. Agra continued to perform well in the half-year ended 31 January 2017. Net profit after tax was N$14.8 million, but it reported a 13% (N$2.1 million) decrease in profits.

    “Authorised capital expenditure for the 2017 financial year amounted to N$55 million, of which N$30 million was contractually committed to by the end of 31 January 2017. Finance will be provided via cash generated through the group´s operating activities,” according to Agra CEO Arnold Klein.

    The earnings per share, as well as the headline earnings per share, were 14.4 cents per share. No dividend was declared during the period. Said Klein: “Namibia's economy going through a technical recession, defined by negative Gross Domestic Product growth for two successive quarters, added to the ongoing challenging drought conditions, were negatively impacting the agricultural sector for the period under review.

    “Agra managed to prevent a decline in growth and managed to defend the group's revenue with a slight increase of 1% for the first six months up to January 2017, compared to the same period the previous year.

    “Without backing down from Agra's philosophy to support the farming sector, even through tough times, Agra has intensified its credit-control policies, especially on its Auctions business, to protect its shareholders' investment from the increased risk as a result of the more stringent export regulations to South Africa which were introduced from July 2016. These regulations caused a further short-term decrease in revenue for the first half of the period under review.”

    Operating costs increased by 3%, which is less than inflation. Revenue remained rather static, resulting in a decrease in operating profit from N$37.5 million in 2016 to N$32.9 million in 2017.

    “We are expecting challenging times to persist for the foreseeable future, but the Agra board and management remain positive that the recent widespread rains will have a positive impact on the agricultural sector, housing our largest clientele,” Klein said.

    STAFF REPORTER

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    Kwanza agreement to be settled earlierKwanza agreement to be settled earlierN$3.8 billion is outstanding The Angolan central bank has agreed to repay outstanding money from its currency-exchange deal with Namibia by June next year. The Namibian central bank and its Angolan counterpart have agreed to shorten the repayment time of their currency-exchange agreement, with the last payment scheduled for June 2018.

    The Bank of Namibia (BoN) and Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA) entered into the agreement on 18 June 2015 to allow the exchange of Angolan kwanza for Namibian dollars at the border town of Oshikango in an effort to ease cross-border trade.

    The two central banks agreed for the BNA to repay the repurchase costs for kwanza notes that pass through Namibia.

    Under the initial agreement, the BNA had to pay the BoN about US$426 million (about N$ 5.4 billion) in quarterly instalments before the agreement expires in 2019.

    BoN spokesperson Kazembire Zemburuka told Nampa on Monday that the two reserve banks met in December 2016 and entered into a new agreement.

    “The two central banks met last year to discuss various issues which included the status of the currency-conversion agreement. The outstanding obligation owed by BNA was discussed and it was agreed that the repayment period be shortened.”

    Zemburuka said there were no shortcomings in the first agreement as the BNA honoured the repayment schedule, but the new agreement reflected an improved economic outlook for Angola because of a positive outlook for crude oil prices.

    Crude oil accounts for a significant portion of Angola's exports and foreign reserves.

    Zemburuka said the last payment made by the BNA was US$20 million (approximately N$253 million and brought the total repaid to US$120 million (about N$1.5 billion).

    This leaves the total debt outstanding at US$306 million (approximately N$3.8 billion), he said.

    “The BoN believes that BNA will honour this obligation agreed between the two institutions as it has done thus far.”

    He said the repayment would boost Namibia's foreign reserves, which stood at N$22.9 billion on 31 January 2017.

    NAMPA

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  • 03/22/17--15:00: Rundu is drowning in rubbish
  • Rundu is drowning in rubbishRundu is drowning in rubbish Although the Rundu Town Council is doing its best to keep the town clean, waste management has become one of its biggest challenges.

    Piles of boxes, bottles and other rubbish are scattered around the town.

    The chief executive officer of the Rundu Town Council, Romanus Haironga, says the council outsourced refuse removal to small and medium enterprises.

    Some of these contractors seem to be struggling to fulfil their contractual obligations.

    He says residents should cooperate with the council and the refuse collectors to keep the town clean. Residents contribute to the problem by illegally dumping rubbish.

    “Some residents dump waste such as building rubble and branches in front of their houses expecting the council to remove the waste,” says Haironga. He says garden refuse and building rubble are not the council's responsibility, but residents can arrange for it to be removed at their own cost.

    One of the contractors, Ruben Kudumo, told Nampa that his company collects rubbish in the Queenspark residential area, where there is some cooperation from residents.

    The only problem is disposing of the refuse at the municipal dump, which he said is not properly managed, as his trucks' tyres are damaged by broken bottles strewn all over the site.

    Another contractor who requested anonymity said there are challenges, and called on residents and businesses to cooperate with the council to keep the town clean.

    “The councillors should start educating residents on the benefits of having a clean town,” he said.

    Asked about allegations of mismanagement of the dump, Haironga said the council hoped to address the matter with a proposed waste management programme.

    He said there is an educational programme in place where councillors educate the community on keeping the town clean when they host community meetings.

    “These programmes also target schools to see how we can change people's mentality,” he said.

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    Dutch appeal for calm amongst TurksDutch appeal for calm amongst Turks Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb appealed for calm on Tuesday among the Dutch city's sizeable Turkish community, amid an international row over a referendum aimed at expanding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

    The mayor's call comes after an unauthorised pro-Turkey demonstration in the port city flared into violence 10 days ago when riot police used dogs, horses and a water cannon to break up protesters.

    "The situation remains very tense. Keep a cool head," Aboutaleb told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper in an interview.

    "The word is that Turkish officials are calling on European Turks to make their voices heard.

    "Of course, we will never dispute or deny Rotterdam Turks' involvement and loyalty to Turkey. However, what we don't want is that the call disrupts the local community," Aboutaleb said.

    Both Germany and The Netherlands have blocked Turkish ministers from staging rallies to woo expatriate Turks to vote "yes" in the April 16 referendum.

    The row deepened on the weekend of March 11 when the Dutch banned one Turkish minister's plane from landing and then expelled another envoy who had travelled by road to Rotterdam over the border from Germany.

    Tensions have been running high among the city's sizable Turkish community since the abortive coup against Erdogan in July, with complaints of intimidation against both pro- and anti-Erdogan supporters.

    NAMPA/AFP

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    No Africans at African summitNo Africans at African summitNo African citizens granted visas for African trade summit in California Every single African citizen who requested a visa was rejected, according to the organiser of the African Global Economic and Development Summit. An annual African trade summit in California had no African attendees this year after at least 60 people were denied visas, according to event leaders.

    The African Global Economic and Development Summit, a three-day conference at the University of Southern California (USC), typically brings delegations from across Africa to meet with business leaders in the US in an effort to foster partnerships. But this year, every single African citizen who requested a visa was rejected, according to organiser Mary Flowers.

    Some are now questioning whether the denials to the Los Angeles event could be tied to the anti-immigration policies of Donald Trump, who is pushing forward with a travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries despite ongoing legal challenges.

    Flowers said roughly 60 to 100 people from at least a dozen nations were denied entry to the summit, which went on as planned with a much smaller group last Thursday through Saturday.

    “I don’t know if it’s Trump or if it’s the fact that the embassies that have been discriminating for a long time see this as an opportunity, because of talk of the travel ban, to blatantly reject everyone,” Flowers said in an interview on Monday. “These trade links create jobs for both America and Africa. It’s unbelievable what’s going on.”

    The problems for the trade summit mark the latest example of restricted travel to the US under Trump, whose controversial immigration policies and rhetoric have impacted a wide range of industries and communities. Soccer players, musicians, doctors, tech workers, protesters and others from across the globe have been denied access to the US, which has also experienced a slump in tourism since Trump’s inauguration.

    Rejected participants at the trade summit came from Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, South Africa and more, according to Flowers. Trump’s travel ban covers Somalia, Sudan and Libya in Africa, and citizens from those countries did not seek visas for the event.

    “This conference puts Americans in touch with real people so they can do real business,” said Flowers, CEO of Global Green Development Group, which does economic development work in Africa.

    A spokesperson for the US state department declined to comment on claims of rejections for summit participants, saying in a statement: “We cannot speculate on whether someone may or may not be eligible for a visa, nor on any possible limitations … Applications are refused if an applicant is found ineligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act or other provisions of US law.”

    This is not the first time the summit has struggled with visa problems, according to Flowers, who has been organising the event since 2013. In past years, she said, roughly 40% of interested African participants were denied entry.

    But the 100% rejections this year meant there were only 50 to 75 participants total instead of the 150 to 200 who typically attend, she said. “Financially, that’s a gaping hole – a whole bunch of people who would have contributed not just to the event and to USC, but to the city around.”

    She said many of the applicants who were rejected had already registered for the event and paid initial visa fees, but then were denied after short interviews – even when they brought extensive documentation, such as bank statements and property records.

    The long-term impact of the visa denials is a lack of new trade links and business partnerships between US entrepreneurs and African nations, said Flowers, who also represents southern California as a member of the District Export Council, a trade group affiliated with the US commerce department.

    THE GUARDIAN

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  • 03/22/17--15:00: Shot of the day
  • Shot of the dayShot of the day DISPLACED: An Iraqi refugee, who fled from Mosul, looks on in a camp in al-Hol, located some 14 kilometers from the Iraqi border in Syria's northeastern Hassakeh province. Photo: NAMPA/AFP

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  • 03/22/17--15:00: Black farmers are capable
  • Black farmers are capableBlack farmers are capable If President Hage Geingob has his way the contentious willing-buyer, willing-seller policy will be a thing of the past. The head of state greatly spoke of the need for government to consider radical land expropriation in order to fast-track land reform in the country. Although there is no conclusive data indicating how much of the private land is owned by black people, property ownership in Namibia remains heavily skewed across racial lines, with the majority blacks owning very little land for commercial and agricultural use. Government has for the past 27 years opted to tread carefully on the land question although the constitution of the country makes provision for expropriation with fair compensation. “The State or a competent body or organ authorised by law may expropriate in the public interest subject to the payment of just compensation, in accordance with requirements and procedures to be determined by Act of Parliament,” the Constitution reads. Our land reform programme is painfully slow and only heaven knows if the government target of transferring 43% or 15 million of arable agricultural land to the previously disadvantaged by 2020 will be realised. It is really time that something is done. Government has made the right noises over the years, including admitting that the willing-buyer, willing-seller concept, was a spectacular failure. Many pressure groups have reawakened discussion on the land question, potentially putting the Swapo-led government under pressure. Government must now drive this process with utmost urgency and one that must be embraced by all Namibians. The fact that government, through the rule of law, makes provision for just compensation should be welcome relief, especially for absentee landlords who have overstayed their welcome. We want a situation whereby land is utilised productively. Of course given the current financial difficulties, both black and white farmers, are struggling to make ends meet. Coming up with cost-effective production methods is key and it is up to black farmers to take on the challenge, because they are also capable of becoming commercial agricultural producers. If not productively used, state-acquired land should be taken back.

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  • 03/22/17--15:00: DTA questions budget
  • DTA questions budgetDTA questions budgetAccuses Schlettwein of missing the mark repeatedly Nico Smit of the DTA is of the view that the differing figures from last year to this year's budget casts doubt on the budget process. DTA member of parliament Nico Smit has described the differences between the 2016 and 2017 national budget projections as “dramatic and disconcerting”.

    According to Smit, the 2017 budget projections reflect the country's economic decline more accurately than the national budget tabled a year ago.

    “It would have been far more acceptable had the Ministry of Finance missed its budgetary targets by 5%. However, the ministry has consistently missed the mark by about 20% and in some cases by as much as 24%,” Smit said.

    The projected taxes on income and profit, which were estimated at N$24.771 billion in 2016, were estimated at N$19.161 billion this year.

    Smit argued that the latest budget varied slightly from the revised figures presented in October 2016 during the mid-term budget review, saying they were largely cosmetic in nature.

    Smit said the differences cast doubt on the budgeting process and raised questions about the reliability of the figures presented by the ministry in this year's budget.

    He referred to the 20.26% reduction in the estimates of taxes on income and profit, which he described as “deeply disturbing as it immediately invalidates the soundness of all the projections made on the new budget”.

    He said the unfolding economic realities over the past year had “brought the government to its knees” and accused the government's call to rein in spending as mere window dressing.

    Smit further said that the new medium-term expenditure framework was designed to appease the International Monetary Fund in terms of the budget deficit.

    In the DTA's opinion, however, the development budget is the “single most distressing element in the budget as a whole. This is because the accounting gymnastics has continued unbridled in this category.”

    Smit said on paper it appeared as though the intention was to stabilise investment in capital projects at a level of N$6.7 billion, resulting in a mere 3% reduction from last year's revised figure.

    He argued that this in fact “masked the ugly truth” that the expenditure had experienced a significant reduction of 24% in 2016.

    In February 2016, N$9.06 billion was allocated for development, which was reduced to N$6.9 billion in October.

    “This N$2 billion cut in development spending represents the lion's share of the N$5 billion cuts the finance minister was forced to implement,” Smit said.

    He warned that these figures revealed the fragility of the current economic situation. He pointed out that the government was bargaining on a N$5 billion windfall in the form of SACU transfers.

    Should these transfers not materialise, “the risk to the current budget structure increases exponentially”.

    He warned that the single biggest risk to the Namibian economy would be the failure of the projected multi-billion-dollar SACU windfall.

    The second largest risk was the public-sector wage bill.

    “The lack of political will to address the issue of the enormously bloated and economically unproductive public service with a structure and managed strategy unambiguously indicates that we are stuck with exactly the same problems that we faced in 2016.”

    He said the government must “once and for all cease to act as an employment creation agency” and should instead focus on creating and maintaining a legislative and policy environment that was conducive to business registration and attractive to foreign investment.

    He furthermore dismissed the notion of natural attrition, and suggested that incompetent and unproductive public servants must be removed from the public service by means of voluntary retrenchment packages.

    Smit praised the government's decision to reduce financial support to state-owned enterprises.

    “The fact that there is a multiplicity of poorly managed, financially reckless and unaccountable entities that have drained the public purse for too long is as questionable as the bloated public service.”

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Prison warden in deadly shootingPrison warden in deadly shooting A Hardap prison guard allegedly shot dead two people and wounded three others during a late-night brawl at a Mariental nightclub last month.

    Kennedy Skrywer and Petrus Hamman, both 22, were killed in a quarrel at Club Shoeless in the Aimablaagte location at the end of February. Ronny Mwakamune Lifasi was charged with two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and a charge of negligent handling of a firearm.

    He was denied bail and the case was postponed until 30 March, NamPol Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi said.

    Skrywer was reportedly shot inside the club after Lifasi had accused him of bumping into him on his way to the bathroom.

    Three other club patrons were grazed by the bullet, the police said.

    Hamman was shot outside the club, where he reportedly confronted Lifasi.

    Lifasi fled but later surrendered to the police.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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    Taxi drivers want legal protectionTaxi drivers want legal protection Taxi drivers in Windhoek yesterday demonstrated for the second day in front of the labour ministry in an effort to make their demands heard.

    The Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) already started demonstrations on Monday during which they also handed a petition to the ministry saying that taxi drivers in Namibia are being subjected to slave-like conditions.

    The president of the union, Werner Januarie, said that they will continue with the demonstrations until their demands are met.

    Januarie told Namibian Sun yesterday that the demonstrations are taking place throughout the day and will continue today (Thursday), if they do not receive feedback on their demands by the ministry.

    “We have not received any feedback from them yet, but we are hopeful that they will come back to us.”

    According to the petition by the NTTU, taxi drivers have to deal with unbecoming behaviour meted out to them by employers on a daily basis as well as the fact that their contributions to society are unappreciated.

    “In addition to that, the deplorable conditions under which taxi drivers work are merely imposed on them and they are not given an opportunity to at least negotiate for better terms and conditions of employment,” said Januarie.

    According to him employers have become accustomed to mistreating their employees in the industry. He says it is therefore time to vote on a final conclusion as to what percentage of the drivers would like to 'up' their status from independent contractor to being recognised as an employee to enjoy protection under the Labour Act.

    Januarie said that the demonstration was the result of resolutions made at a meeting held on 10 March where it was resolved to inform the government that the industry needed improved salaries, and an increase of the driver commission to 40%, which could be turned into a driver's basic salary of N$4 000 monthly.

    “We have been at 30% commission for a very long time now and we would like to enjoy improved salaries as well as better working conditions as enjoyed by all other employees in different sectors of the economy.”

    He said that another matter of high priority is the issue regarding the implementation of public transport regulations of which the ministry of transport amassed the Rapid Result Strategy.

    The implementation was set for 31 January this year but the well-articulated plan has not seen the light of day.

    The union urged the labour ministry to liaise with their counterparts at the transport ministry to solicit answers with regard to the implementation.



    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Fresh water, sanitation far betterFresh water, sanitation far better Water and agriculture minister John Mutorwa has commended the cooperation and financial aid offered to Namibia by the European Union for the country's water and sanitation programme, following the last disbursement of N$111 million.

    Receiving the funding, Mutorwa said: “The European Union has been, still is and hopefully may continue to be a reliable and dependable development partner. The overall policy objectives of the water supply and sanitation sector in our country are to improve the provision of water supply and sanitation services, to both urban and rural communities.”

    The European Union (EU) recently disbursed the last payment marking the end of a seven-year long working relationship with the Ministry of Water, Agriculture and Forestry.

    According to Mutorwa, the water and sanitation programme was supported by the European Commission which was established in January 2011 to support the functions of the water and sanitation sector. “The overall objective of the Namibia Water and Sanitation Programme (Nasawa) funding is to contribute to improved access to potable water and to appropriate means of sanitation.” An initial amount of €18 million (approximately N$240 million) which was doubled to €36 million (N$480 million) was given as financial aid to attain the goals of the programme, according to Mutorwa.

    “Namibia over the years has made commendable achievements in the water sector, where according to the 2013 Namibia Demographic and Health Survey Report, over 87% of the households in Namibia have access to improved water supply and include the Neckartal Dam project, phases one and two of the Katima Mulilo-Ngoma water pipelines, while projects under implementation include the Ondangwa-Omuntele pipeline extension, the Iitapa-Okeeholongo water supply scheme and the Otjimbingwe rural water supply project.

    “Through Nasawa funding, the ministry has been able to increase access to drinking water and sanitation services. The EU's active and visible support and that of many others is still needed to solve the sanitation challenges in our country, and improved sanitation is achievable,” concluded Mutorwa.

    According to the EU delegation spokesperson, Susan-Marie Lewis, funding was disbursed in the form of support to the government programme.

    STAFF REPORTER

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  • 03/22/17--15:00: NWR plays catch-up
  • NWR plays catch-upNWR plays catch-upCompany looks forward to making a profit soon Namibia Wildlife Resorts is almost up to date with its financial reports and positive about its new approach to service delivery. Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) is positive about the future and confident that it will soon start turning profit following major improvements on challenges that have dogged the tourism company for years.

    NWR's latest financial audits covering the period up to 2015 have finally been completed following lengthy delays in the submission of its financials.

    According to the managing director of NWR, Zelna Hengari, the company cleared backlog audits for the financial years 2010 to 2015 and will table these reports at an annual general meeting (AGM) scheduled for June. Thereafter, they will be distributed as per requirements.

    According to Hengari, the audits need to be presented to the new board at the AGM which is slated for June.

    This follows a call by the tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta in 2015 after the company failed to release annual financial reports for many years. The reports for the financial years 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, and 2008/09 were only tabled in 2009.

    According to Hengari, NWR has never been in a better position of meeting its targets and declaring a dividend to government.

    She said over the past three years, NWR's revenue has grown tremendously allowing it to not only finance its operations, but also capital projects.

    “Hence the company is operationally self-sustaining with the shareholders sometimes providing funding for capital infrastructure, but all operational costs - including the monthly wage bill - are paid by the company itself.”

    According to her, the tourism industry has been growing and so has NWR. “This can, for instance be seen in the fact that Okaukuejo generated N$100 million in revenue during the 2015/16 financial year. At the same time, Olifantsrus and Dolomite have continuously exceeded their set targets. In the south of Namibia, Sossus Dune Lodge and Sesriem Campsite have also exceeded NWR's expectations.”

    In response to complaints from the public about the high rates at NWR resorts, Hengari urged the public to understand the fact that profitability requires the company to be competitive on market principles just like privately owned companies.

    According to her, it is ironic that the public on the one hand expects profits, but on the other hand the public expects services to be affordable, “which is a contradiction”, Hengari said.

    Meanwhile, Hengari said that the company recently appointed Cobus Bruwer as its chief operations officer.

    This, she says, is a critical position in the company because customer satisfaction depends on the type of experience one endures at the camps and resorts.

    “That is why from the onset Bruwer has started making sure that property, infrastructure and service levels are reviewed and aligned to match best-practice industry standards.”

    Hengari further said another important task Bruwer has been paying special attention to, is to ensure that NWR has first-class operating procedures in place and that operating resources are well managed and employed in line with operational needs.

    Bruwer has started rolling out a performance-driven management system to ensure that those reporting to him are fully aligned and are clear about their immediate delivery goals.

    She added that the hiring of Bruwer is also one of the key factors in ensuring that within the coming months, NWR will not receive negative feedback from the public.

    With regard to the outsourcing of its resorts Hengari said the government is currently assessing the Public Private Partnership Bill, which is set to inform all government establishments on how to conduct business in this area.

    “Like all other state-owned enterprises, we wait in anticipation to see what opportunities will be presented once this bill is enacted.”

    She concluded by saying that there is currently an engagement under the stewardship of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to finalise the long-term strategy of the company.

    “That is why it can be said that the hardware is now in place and the challenges that NWR is facing are software-related such as excellent customer service, effective maintenance of resorts, operational efficiency and sound corporate governance. It is in dealing with these challenges that the company is recording progress and achievements.”

    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Geingob to deliver SONA next monthGeingob to deliver SONA next month President Hage Geingob will deliver the State of the Nation Address next month.

    The Head of State announced on Tuesday during the 27th Independence celebrations at Rundu that he will deliver the State of the Nation Address on 12 April 2017.

    “Today is a celebration, therefore I will not delve too deep into issues affecting our nation since one does not spoil a birthday celebration with a long speech. I will elaborate on some of the matters I have mentioned on 12 April during my State of the Nation Address,” he said.

    In his address, Geingob emphasised his desire to achieve unification in the 'Namibian House'.

    “Yes, we still have a long way to go with regard to unity, but that is our desire,” he said.

    He also acknowledged that after 27 years, Namibia still faces many challenges, most specifically with regard to socio-economic matters.

    “Poverty is a scourge that continues to wreak havoc in our lives, because if one Namibian is poor, then we all are poor and we will all pay a price for that,” he said.

    Geingob explained that he was speaking about the provision of basic necessities to people in order to give them a sense of human dignity.

    “For those with talent and ability, we want to create a favourable and friendly business climate so that they will be able to generate wealth, not only for themselves, but for the nation as a whole,” the President said.

    As a sign of Government's commitment towards the improvement of the quality of life and living standards of Namibians, Geingob said, they continue to invest a significant share of the national budget in the social sectors.

    About 47.7% cent of the budget is allocated to the social sectors at a value of N$27.44 billion, or N$83.71 billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

    NAMPA

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    No planning for efundja - DTANo planning for efundja - DTA DTA president McHenry Venaani says he is appalled by the government's handling of the seasonal efundja flood in the north.

    He says despite ample forewarning no planning was done for this potentially catastrophic situation.

    “It is appalling to see that once again the extent of government intervention stops at telling people to move from their homesteads to higher ground.”

    According to Venaani, there should have been structural interventions to ensure that floodwater is diverted and stored in reservoirs.

    He says this is evidence of a lack of coherent planning.

    “There lies significant agricultural potential in ensuring that floodwater is kept in a re-usable format so that farmers are able to use flood surface water for irrigation and even explore alternative hydro-culture farming methods such as hydroponics.”

    Venaani believes that such interventions would help soften the blow to the local economy and food security caused by efundja.

    The DTA calls on the government to immediately establish a national flood steering committee comprised of engineers and hydrologists who can strategise and implement mechanisms to channel floodwater so that it may be used productively for activities such as irrigation.

    “Failure to do so would be negligent and a clear indication that danger is being waited on rather than being anticipated and dealt with to reduce its impact.”

    Venaani says he will table a motion in the National Assembly to discuss the efundja, with the specific aim of devising coherent proactive national response strategies to emergencies such as floods and droughts.

    Meanwhile, the north is bracing for more flooding after a second wave of floodwater crossed the Angolan border at the weekend.

    ELLANIE SMIT

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    Tucna bemoans dodgy investmentsTucna bemoans dodgy investments Memories of the lost N$100 million of the Offshore Development Company and the N$30 million SSC/Avid investment scandal were relived yesterday by a trade union that called on the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the SME Bank.

    The Trade Union Congress of Namibia secretary-general, Mahongora Kavihuha, said workers were losing money because of dodgy investment deals.

    Kavihuha told a press conference that public entities were losing money belonging to the taxpayers.

    “It has become a tendency that workers are losing money in this country. We are still hoping workers will heal from what happened to their N$600 million [GIPF scandal], their N$30 million. On that note, we call on the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate,” he said.

    He was not optimistic that a commission of inquiry would help to resolve the issues surrounding the SME Bank.

    “With the situation regarding the missing millions we can very well assure you of a commission of inquiry soon to follow the current investigation by the Bank of Namibia. The commission will purportedly investigate, but like all others before it, it will not reveal anything. This we must be assured of,” Kavihuha said. The SME Bank was recently placed under the curatorship of the central bank after it invested between N$181 million and N$196 million in questionable financial instruments in South Africa.

    Pending an investigation into the matter, the entire SME Bank board of directors, its chief executive officer and its managers for finance and treasury have been suspended.

    The suspended board and three executives are challenging the central bank's decision in the High Court, demanding reinstatement.

    In this regard, Kavihuha said: “We cannot entertain these suspended executives' challenge. This is a matter of public interest. It does not include politicians. They are not the alpha and omega.”

    Kavihuha pointed out that Social Security Commission CEO Milka Mungunda was also an SME Bank board member.

    “The current CEO of the Social Security Commission is part of the SME Bank board of directors and by all accounts ought to bear full cognisance of what happened a few years ago with the N$30 million. How she could have allowed this to repeat itself under her watch at the Social Security Commission is beyond us,” he said.

    “The Bank of Namibia should have picked this up a long time ago. They were sleeping on the job.”

    Kavihuha appealed to President Hage Geingob to intervene in the matter saying: “Why should these things happen under the guise of well-paid advisors? I am sure as the first citizen the president must settle this issue as soon as possible. He must assure the nation.”

    OGONE TLHAGE

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    Ancestral land debate on the cardsAncestral land debate on the cardsNational consensus on land needed The president's Independence Day speech hinted at a possible change in the government's stance on ancestral land claims. President Hage Geingob has welcomed proposals on ancestral land claims, despite his government's stance that such debate would threaten national security.

    In his speech at the Independence Day celebration at Rundu, Geingob urged Namibians to join hands to reach national consensus on the issue of ancestral land before proceeding with new measures to address the land issue.

    “In terms of ancestral land, we welcome proposals from all concerned Namibians so that we are able to reach a national consensus before proceeding with new measures to address the land problem. Of course one question I ask addressing land is who the owners of Windhoek and surrounding areas are?” he said.

    In January, lands minister Utoni Nujoma said the government would not entertain any talk about ancestral land claims, because that would promote Bantustans and tribalism.

    Meanwhile, Landless People's Movement (LPM) spokesperson Paul Thomas says the president's comment is an “empty promise aimed at defusing the enthusiasm behind land activists”.

    “We have not yet sat down to discuss his new stance but we believe it is just to put a stop to land activism,” he said.

    Legal expert Professor Nico Horn has cautioned that the government must prepare itself for very frank discussions about ancestral land and how to balance the rights of the people of the south with those of the people of the north who were deprived of land ownership under apartheid rule.

    Emphasising that southern tribes have a legitimate claim to ancestral land, Horn warned that the government would have to prepare itself for claims from people in the north who could not own land because of apartheid laws.

    “There will be a lot of things for government to discuss. You have to look at the German occupation in the 1800s and the South African government after 1914. The LPM must explain to government what they mean by ancestral land and how they want to solve the matter,” he said.

    Horn also warned that there must be budgetary provision for compensating claimants should the government choose to entertain the ancestral land debate.

    Political analyst Phanuel Kaapama welcomed the president's appeal for proposals, adding that such proposals and insights, once codified in coherent legal and policy frameworks, would make for perfect solutions to the land issue.

    He said such deliberations were of paramount importance, especially when dealing with prime land such as the Etosha National Park, which some believe is the ancestral land of the San people, in particular the Hai//om.

    “There could be a discussion based on national interest. For example, say there is a mine which contributes billions of dollars to state coffers situated on a farm which others believe is their ancestral land. Provisions will have to be made to address this,” he said.

    Kaapama believes that Namibia can learn from South Africa, where the government made specific provision for ancestral land claims.

    “We can learn a lot from South Africa. All along, Namibia has said ancestral land claims will threaten peace and security. We can learn from South Africa which has gone through the same experience as us and yet they have these provisions in place.”

    Kaapama also believes it is important for Namibia to establish a timeframe for ancestral land claims.

    JEMIMA BEUKES

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  • 03/22/17--15:00: Skorpion Zinc has a lifeline
  • Skorpion Zinc has a lifelineSkorpion Zinc has a lifelineTiming is crucial for outsourced pit expansion Skorpion Zinc says it had to choose between outsourcing mining at Pit 112 to extend the mine's life by three years, or closing shop in the next few months. The expansion of the Skorpion Zinc Mine's outsourced Pit 112 at Rosh Pinah must start immediately to extend the mine's life by three years, otherwise the mine will close by the middle of this year and 1 500 jobs will be lost.

    A statement issued by Skorpion Zinc spokesperson Nora Ndopu says it is imperative that the work on Pit 112 begins immediately.

    “Delays may have an impact on the technical viability of the project. Should the project no longer be viable, the mine will have to close, and all 1 500 jobs will be lost,” she warned.

    Skorpion Zinc has outsourced the mining operations of Pit 112 to Basil Read Mining Namibia, a subsidiary of the South African firm Basil Read Holdings.

    According to the company it does not have the heavy equipment needed to economically mine large quantities of waste material within the required time.

    Ndopu said the outsourcing of the mining operations would make 278 employees redundant.

    The general secretary of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Eben Zarondo, yesterday told Namibian Sun that the union's position remained the same and that the company should hire the necessary equipment instead of outsourcing mining operations.

    “Why do they want Basil Read? Why do they not hire equipment, unless there is something that they are hiding and there is a pre-existing contract?”

    He described the outsourcing as complete nonsense and said that “they should then just close the mine and go”.

    Ndopu said the redundant workers would receive generous retrenchment packages from the company, well above the minimum required by the law, and they would be given preference for employment by Basil Read Namibia.

    “Basil Read Namibia will be engaging over 450 employees for their operations at Skorpion over the next three years and there is the potential for employment thereafter,” she said.

    These jobs are reserved for Namibians and preference will be given to former Skorpion employees.

    “In other words, the new mining model will result in the employment of an additional 172 workers for at least three years,” Ndopu said.

    “Skorpion Zinc management continues to engage with affected employees and the MUN for an orderly separation of the remaining employees, and to facilitate any necessary engagement with Basil Read Namibia,” said the general manager of Skorpion Zinc, Irvinne Simataa.

    “We also appeal to all employees, the MUN and the Rosh Pinah community to work with us during this process and the timely start-up of the expansion work on Pit 112. We ask all stakeholders to look to the future rather than the end of Skorpion Zinc. The pit expansion gives us a lifeline of at least three years.”

    He added that Vedanta Zinc International had committed resources for exploration and analysis to further extend the life of the mine beyond the next three years.

    This includes possible underground mining of the oxide resource below Pit 112; conversion of the refinery to co-treat sulphide ores; the development of Gergarub (a joint venture between Skorpion and Rosh Pinah Zinc Corporation); and ongoing greenfield/brownfield exploration work in and around Rosh Pinah and elsewhere in Namibia which could lead to the discovery of new ore bodies. According to the company, employees have regularly been informed about the life of the mine and its impending closure over the past few years. Regular meetings were held with the union and the government too.

    As per agreement with the union and government, the severance date for affected employees was initially extended from 28 February to 15 March, and more recently to 30 March, to allow more time for the company and union to seek an amicable outcome.

    “Thirteen affected employees outside the bargaining unit have already willingly undertaken exit medicals and are in the process of separating as per the latest extended date. Further, the process of absorbing employees internally as per agreement with the unions is ongoing,” the company said.

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    Trucker's month-long ordeal continuesTrucker's month-long ordeal continues A Zambian driver has been stranded next to his overturned truck on the B8 road near Grootfontein for a month and six days, guarding the truck against looters.

    Two weeks ago a second truck from Fashion Emporium Ltd was sent to pick up the timber he was transporting from the DRC to Walvis Bay.

    His story has been shared on social media, where commentators praised his loyalty and dedication, and those who have met him commented on his calm and friendly demeanour despite his challenging situation.

    Timothy Changwe (52) told Namibian Sun yesterday that the past five weeks were tough, not only for him but also for his family back home.

    “My family, my wife, they are crying. My children are very disturbed,” he said.

    The truck overturned on 17 February after the prop shaft broke when he hit a pothole.

    Changwe was taken to hospital in Grootfontein, where he was examined and declared unharmed.

    He then returned to the overturned truck, roughly 30 kilometres north of Grootfontein, fearing that it would be stripped of parts if he left it unguarded.

    “I decided to stay, because somebody could come and take parts from the truck. So I would stay to protect it.”

    He has been employed by Fashion Emporium LTD, a transport company based in Kitwe, Zambia, for more than a year and felt it was his duty to remain with the truck until the company could salvage it.

    “I am looking after the property of the company. Some have told me I should leave, go and see my family. But I can't do that; I can't leave the truck unattended. It is my duty,” he said.



    Husband & father

    Changwe is the father of four children, the youngest one aged 10. He said his wife understands his decision to stay.

    “She accepts it, because there is nothing she can do, and nothing I can do.”

    For the first two weeks, Changwe slept on top of the truck's overturned container trailer for safety from wild animals, especially snakes. A few days ago he killed “a very big snake” that had come too close to his sleeping area for his liking.

    When a colleague joined him at the site two weeks ago, he could start sleeping inside the second truck.



    Difficult time

    Nevertheless, the strain of the ordeal has begun to wear him down. During a second conversation with Namibian Sun yesterday, he sounded frustrated.

    He said at times he felt he had been “abandoned in the bush” and that the company did not care about his situation. He said he had lost hope and could see no light at the end of the tunnel.

    He said he had received some cash from his employer, around N$1 400 in total, since the accident, but access to fresh food and water was a problem.

    He admitted that he was becoming tired of living on the roadside, in the bush, surrounded by mosquitoes and wild animals, and depending on a makeshift kitchen he had assembled in the overturned trailer.

    “I am a human being. I am tired,” he said.

    “I am suffering a lot.”

    And yet, he is grateful for the help he has received from strangers passing the crash site.

    “So many people are helping us here. I can't even count them. So many different things, like water, food and medicines.”



    No light in the tunnel yet

    He said he was worried because his passport was only valid until 30 March, and he hoped the latest attempt to send a crane to turn the truck upright would be more successful than previous attempts.

    According to his employer, heavy rain and wet ground have made it impossible to start the salvage operation.

    Nimit Desai of Fashion Emporium Ltd said in a telephonic conversation that he was impressed with Changwe's work ethic and even before the accident had considered him as one of his best employees.

    Desai said the situation in Namibia was unfortunate, but weather conditions had prevented it from being resolved.

    “He has not once complained,” Desai said of Changwe. He said the company appreciated his commitment and was working on finding a solution.

    He said a crane was on its way to the site and Changwe might be going home soon.

    JANA-MARI SMITH

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