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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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    New bid to end W. Sahara disputeNew bid to end W. Sahara disputeUN chief seeks 'new dynamic' Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, is seeking new impetus on the resolution of the long-standing conflict in Western Sahara. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres is proposing a new diplomatic push to end the decades-old dispute over Western Sahara, possibly by holding a referendum on Morocco's rule over the territory, according to a confidential report obtained by AFP on Monday.

    Guterres said in the report to the United Nations Security Council that he wanted “a new dynamic” and a “new spirit” in negotiations on ending one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

    “I intend to propose that the negotiating process be relaunched with a new dynamic and a new spirit that reflect the council's guidance,” the UN chief said in the report sent to the council on Monday.

    The negotiations would have “the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable political solution that includes resolution of the dispute over the ultimate status of Western Sahara, including through agreement on the nature and form of the exercise of self-determination,” he added.

    Last month, long-serving UN envoy Christopher Ross resigned just weeks after Guterres spoke by phone with Morocco's King Mohamed VI to try to reduce tensions in a buffer zone in contested Western Sahara.

    Guterres has put forward German president Horst Kohler to be his new envoy to lead the negotiations, but the appointment is still under discussion, according to a UN official.

    Different reading of history

    Last month, Guterres met at UN headquarters in New York with Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali to discuss his proposal to relaunch negotiations and tensions in the Guerguerat buffer zone.

    The failure to achieve progress in resolving the dispute stems from the fact that “each party has a different vision and reading of the history and documents that surround this conflict,” he wrote in his report.

    A former Spanish colony, Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco in 1975.

    An insurgency by the pro-independence Polisario Front ended with a UN-brokered truce in 1991 and the deployment of a UN mission, MINURSO.

    Morocco maintains that Western Sahara is an integral part of its kingdom despite a UN resolution that calls for a referendum on the future of the territory.

    It was Guterres's first report to the council on Western Sahara.

    His predecessor Ban Ki-moon angered Morocco last year when he used the term “occupation” to describe the status of Western Sahara.

    Morocco responded by expelling dozens of staff from MINURSO, but Rabat's ambassador last week told UN officials that his government would allow a further 17 employees to return, the report said.

    The Security Council will discuss Western Sahara on 25 April ahead of a vote two days later on renewing MINURSO's mandate.

    Guterres told the council that the mission should be extended for another year, until 30 April 2018.


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  • 04/11/17--16:00: El Nino can pin down cholera
  • El Nino can pin down choleraEl Nino can pin down cholera El Nino, the cyclical climatic phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, is linked to shifts in cholera cases in Africa, providing an early warning that could save lives, scientists.

    During the years when El Nino is warming the eastern Pacific, East Africa has about 50 000 additional cholera cases a year, new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests.

    By contrast, the years when El Nino is not active, there were 30 000 fewer cholera cases in East Africa, according to the study published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The researchers analysed more than 17 000 annual observations from 3 710 different locations between 2000 and 2014 in Africa, which has the most cholera deaths in the world.

    The total number of cases of cholera across Africa as a whole was about the same in El Nino years as compared with non-El Nino years, but the geographic distribution of illnesses was “fundamentally different,” the study's authors said in a statement.

    In total, 177 million people live in Africa in the regions where cholera cases spike with El Nino, and even triple in certain areas.

    Cholera is an infectious bacterial disease that can be fatal. It is typically caught from infected water supplies, resulting in severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

    “We usually know when El Nino is coming six to 12 months before it occurs,” said study leader Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School.

    “Knowing there is elevated cholera risk in a particular region can help reduce the number of deaths that result,” he said.

    “If you have cholera treatment centres available, fast, supportive care can reduce the fatality rate from cholera from as high as 30% to next to nothing.”

    El Nino conditions in the equatorial Pacific strongly impact weather conditions globally, including increasing rainfall in East Africa and decreasing rainfall in drier areas of northern and southern Africa.

    In some areas, heavy rainfalls can cause sewers to overrun and contaminate drinking water.

    In other parts of Africa, the dry conditions can make clean water sources less available and people are force to consume water from contaminated sources, the researchers noted.

    There is a vaccine against cholera but its protection is not lifelong. In addition, there is not enough supply of the vaccine to cover the populations in the African regions where the incidence of cholera is linked to El Nino.


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  • 04/11/17--16:00: SONA expectations very high
  • SONA expectations very highSONA expectations very high All eyes will be on President Hage Geingob this afternoon when he delivers his second State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly. At the official opening of parliament in February this year, Geingob gave the assurance that he will use the State of the Nation Address to highlight a number of issues in the country. There is indeed a massive weight of expectation, which includes improving livelihoods and above all, the continuation of building a prosperous progressive and righteous society. Unlike last year when he used the State of the Nation Address to largely launch his Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), Geingob will have to change his tune this time around and account for the real state of the nation on the ground, especially regarding the performance of the economy and the country's finances. People would want to know what the reality of the state of Namibia's economy is. With thousands of jobs shed over the past 12 months, the head of state must tell the nation how the government intends to stimulate growth so that the economy can create much-needed jobs. Are programmes aimed at alleviating poverty in the country sustainable and working? It is no secret that thousands of Namibians continue to wallow in abject poverty, chiefly due to a lack of employment. So expectations are high that Geingob will highlight government interventions to address bread and butter issues in his long-awaited speech. Socio-economic transformation is not negotiable given the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, which has led to Namibia being one of the countries with the highest levels of income inequality. The reality of the state of Namibia's sport sector is also quite stark, and many administrators and enthusiasts are looking forward to a special mention on this topic, one that will hopefully lead to a change in the status quo. The head of state needs to go beyond the usual rhetoric. It is time for action, particularly when it comes to ensuring that public service delivery is improved and corruption is reduced.

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  • 04/11/17--16:00: Shot of the day
  • Shot of the dayShot of the day FAR FROM HOME: Newly arrived refugee children from South Sudan eat and drink at the Ngomoromo border post, Ugandan side, 10 April 2017. A statement from the UNHCR says over 6000 people have fled to the northern Ugandan district of Lamwo since the start of fighting in the South Sudan town of Pajok. Fighting between government forces and rebels erupted on April 3. Photo: NAMPA/AFP

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    Tourism must drive poverty reductionTourism must drive poverty reduction Namibia's tourism industry will be remodelled to be a real driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation.

    This is according to environment and tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta who says it is not good enough for Namibia to be regarded as leaders in the field of conservation if the country cannot leverage on this to increase the number of tourists and boost the economy.

    “Namibia is regarded as one of the leaders in Africa and the world in conservation and biodiversity. We should leverage on this strength by ensuring that we bring more tourists to witness the beauty of Namibia.”

    He however said that it is not enough to boast about good conservation practices if this does not translate into poverty alleviation for the people. “We must use our natural resources to help communities to wriggle out of the stranglehold of poverty. It is high time we start questioning our model insofar as it reduces poverty.”

    Shifeta said the time has come to look at the tourism industry and seek innovative ways to elevate its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).

    He made the remarks at a three-day strategic planning workshop that was held at Daan Viljoen Game Park during which the development of the Strategic Plan for 2017/18 to 2021/22 were discussed.

    According to Shifeta, on the international arena, the ministry has made great strides in applying best practices in wildlife conservation and the protection of biodiversity.

    Shifeta said that he had fruitful engagements with the consultant regarding the direction he wants the strategic planning session to go.

    He told ministry staff that during the session he hopes that there will be there robust discussion on increasing local participation and beneficiation from natural resources by Namibians. “Namibia is an arid country, and the flora and fauna that is in our country is unique to us. We should leverage on this just as Zimbabwe leverages on Victoria Falls, Mauritius leverages on its blue oceans or Kenya on its wildlife.”

    He added that a lot of work has to go into remodelling Namibia's tourism industry to be a real driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation. He added that President Hage Geingob has thrown down the gauntlet and directed the focus on poverty alleviation and economic growth.


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    Millions insufficiently accounted forMillions insufficiently accounted forQualified audit opinions for statutory bodies Financial reporting is persistently marred by unsupported documentation, outstanding information and misstatements, the auditor-general has found. The auditor-general's report for the Land Acquisition and Development Fund for the 2014 and 2015 financial years recently tabled in parliament states that supporting documents for transactions amounting to nearly N$23.5 million were not submitted for auditing purposes.

    Other outstanding documentation included tender documents amounting to close to N$4.5 million.

    There were no payment vouchers provided for infrastructure development worth N$4 million, and documentation for valuation and estate payment vouchers worth N$92 834 was also outstanding.

    The deed of sale for Farm Werda No 560560, which was bought at more than N$8.5 million for resettlement, was also not provided.

    Land tax collected from commercial farms for 2015 was close to N$10 million, which is much less than was collected in 2014 (more than N$23 million) and 2013 (more than N$29 million).

    Misstatements of more than N$1 million for land tax during 2014 and 2015 were found in the audit.

    The ministry had disbursed N$30 million each during 2014 and 2015 from the Post-settlement Support Fund (PSSF), which is a revolving credit facility managed by Agribank. These funds are used to support investments and operations of newly resettled farmers.

    It is non-interest bearing and has no fixed repayment terms.

    The fund is administered by the lands ministry and was created in 2000 to accelerate the process of land acquisition, distribution and development.

    Diamond valuation fund

    Another statutory body that got a qualified audit opinion (where certain information is doubtful or no agreement can be reached) for the financial years 2012 and 2013 is the Diamond Valuation Fund.

    The reasons for this qualified opinion are misstatements of close to N$3 million (2012) and more than N$4 million in 2013.

    There were also unrecorded liabilities and expenses amounting to N$4 million.

    Money collected for the Diamond Valuation Fund is used to defray the cost of valuation of any unpolished diamonds.


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  • 04/11/17--16:00: Harvest prospects are up
  • Harvest prospects are upHarvest prospects are up90% improvement in cereal production Widespread rains across the country have markedly improved the country's harvest prospects for this season. The latest crop estimates indicate that the total cereal production for Namibia during this season will be 144 200 tons.

    This will be an improvement of 90% from last season's harvest of 76 000 tons. The expected harvest is also 20% higher than the average production of 120 700 tons.

    According to the latest Crop Prospects and Food Security Situation Report, food security in the country is expected to improve significantly, given the good prospects in projected agricultural production.

    According to the report, all the major crop-producing regions are expecting an improvement in the cereal harvest which is significantly higher than last season, and above average production in most areas.

    The Zambezi, Oshana and Oshikoto regions, as well as the commercial areas, are all expecting good crop harvests which are above average and by far higher than last season's harvest.

    The report also says the Kavango West, Kavango East, Omusati and Ohangwena regions are also expecting significant increases in the cereal harvests which are higher than last season, but are still below average production.

    “Farmers reported that the major contributing factors to a below-average expected harvest were crop pests (fall worms and false army worms) in all the affected regions, excessive rainfall in the Kavango West and Kavango East regions and poor rainfall performance in the Omusati and Ohangwena regions.

    According to the report, the maize forecast in the communal area, which includes Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West indicated a massive improvement 436% from the previous season's harvest, but it is 3% below average production.

    This season, it is expected that 6 500 tons of maize will be produced in the communal area while last year only 1 200 tons were produced.

    The report further says much of this improvement is from the Zambezi Region which recorded an increase of 20% above the average production and 486% over last season's poor harvest.

    Also maize production in the Kavango East and Kavango West regions showed an improvement of 158% from last season's poor harvest, but it is down by 63% from the average production.

    “According to farmers in the two Kavango regions, part of the below-average maize production is due to the impact of fall worms which has been severe in the two regions as well as less maize planted this season when compared with normal planted areas.” Maize production in the commercial area on the other hand, showed a considerable improvement of 62% higher than last season's harvest and 69% above the average production.

    This season it is expected that the commercial areas will produce 68 900 tons compared to 42 400 tons last season.

    According to the report, this improvement is as a result of a recovery and good harvest prospects expected from the dry-land maize producers.

    It was noted that the dry-land maize area received good rainfall this season compared with severe drought conditions experienced in the past two successive seasons.

    Furthermore, pearl millet production showed a significant improvement of 174% up to 53 300 tons compared to last season's harvest of 19 400 tons although it is 5% below the average production.

    This improvement is based on the good crop prospects reported in the Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions.

    Similarly, sorghum production has also shown a remarkable improvement of about 178% to 4 200 tons up from last season's poor harvest of 1 500 tons which is also 4% below the average production.

    According to farmers, much of the below average harvests are due to sorghum seed shortages experienced at the beginning of the season.


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    SIM registration process haltedSIM registration process halted While not deemed illegal, MTC's SIM registration process has been halted while consultations between the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) continue in the meantime.

    CRAN CEO Festus Mbandeka recently put the process on hold following a consumer appeal by MTC to have its subscribers go through a registration process.

    Mbandeka explained that although Part 6 of Chapter V (5) of the Communications Act sets out the legal provisions for the registration of SIM cards, the said section has not yet been implemented due to the fact that there is a set of regulatory instruments that CRAN and the information ministry need to finalise which are pertinent to the implementation of the registration process. Commenting on the state of regulatory affairs, Mbandeka said: “We can confirm that CRAN and MICT are currently finalising these regulatory instruments. Upon finalisation, CRAN will embark on a national consultative process aimed at consulting the public, licensees and all stakeholders on the envisaged SIM registration process.”

    MTC executive Tim Ekandjo earlier downplayed the fiasco regarding the SIM registration process, saying: “We wish to emphasise that this is a totally voluntary process.

    All our existing customers have the option to register their SIM cards if not registered yet, but there is no obligation for them to do so until such law is enacted. However, customers buying new SIM cards at our mobile homes will be informed of the necessity to have their cards registered at the point of sale based on our new internal policy. Customers buying SIM cards from elsewhere such as vendors on the street, MTC dealers, and other point of presence may still do so with no obligation to register them.”

    He called the SIM registration process a necessary security measure. “We advise and encourage for registration if they wish to protect themselves.”


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    No budget for anti-poaching unitNo budget for anti-poaching unit Environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says no additional budgetary provision has been made for filling posts in the Wildlife Protection Service that will consist of close to 500 members.

    Shifeta says the ministry was granted support from the Office of the Prime Minister for the additional 495 posts to establish the Wildlife Protection Service, which has become known as the national anti-poaching unit.

    According to him the recruitment process has started but no additional budgetary provision was made to fill these posts.

    He says the ministry will therefore have 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 necessary intensive level of counter-poaching activities,” Shifeta said when he motivated his ministry's budget vote in the National Assembly.

    He said the ministry continued to prioritise the conservation and controlled use of the country's plants and wildlife so that current and future generations might reap the benefits.

    He said the ministry was taking all possible innovative and practical steps to ensure the sustainability of these often-threatened resources.

    According to him the environment and the defence ministries have developed a National Strategy on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement in cooperation with the Ministry of Safety and Security, Justice Ministry, Office of the Prosecutor-General, Office of the Attorney-General and the National Central Intelligence Service.

    “The strategy provides for specific measures and approaches on dealing with the issue of wildlife protection and law enforcement in the country.”

    Shifeta also said that the environment ministry had conducted a number of situation analyses to establish the current state of poaching, particularly as it related to the challenges, needs and the costs required to effectively address poaching and to develop an operational plan to meet this important objective.

    He said the ministry had acquired a helicopter for anti-poaching efforts and approval had been obtained for the use of advanced technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to combat wildlife crime.


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    State of the Nation is 'a circus'State of the Nation is 'a circus'Venaani lashes out at Geingob The leader of the official opposition says opposition parties demand their fair share of time to question the president after his annual State of the Nation Address. The leader of the official opposition, McHenry Venaani, says President Hage Geingob is making a mockery of the annual State of the Nation Address.

    Venaani accused Geingob of failing to account to the nation what his government has done to change their lives and instead using the platform to make fun of queries from opposition parties.

    The DTA leader also accused the Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi, of dictating how many questions opposition members may ask and what the nature of such questions must be.

    “The president must adhere to the rules of the parliament. He is there at the behest of the people and not the other way around. What is the use of asking the president to account when the Speaker arbitrarily decides how many questions should be asked,” Venaani fumed.

    According to him the Speaker's conduct is an attempt to cushion the ruling party from hard-hitting questions.

    Venaani also took issue with the president's perceived silence on corruption despite his promise to root it out at all cost.

    “He must tell about the GIPF report on which he is sitting. Look at the fuel storage, a tender was increased from N$3 billion to N$7 billion and a recommendation made that a permanent secretary from the National Planning Commission should be investigated. Why is the president covering corruption?” asked Venaani.

    He also wanted Geingob to tell the nation why he seemingly turned a blind eye to the SME Bank scandal, which could see the government lose N$740 million, and why Angola owed Namibia N$500 million.

    Venaani yesterday called an urgent press conference to spell out to the president what the purpose of a State of the Nation Address is.

    “The State of the Nation should be an opportunity for the legislature and opposition parties to engage the president at length on a wide variety of issues. We are demanding a fair share of our time, even if it means he must be in parliament for two days. You cannot account to the nation in one hour,” the opposition leader said.

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    Total, NMH pull out all the stops for Easter road safetyTotal, NMH pull out all the stops for Easter road safety Total Namibia and Namibia Media Holdings (NMH) yesterday launched the Easter 'Dying To Get There' road-safety awareness campaign in anticipation of the coming long weekend.

    The campaign is also supported by other road-safety role players such as the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund.

    The companies have joined hands in a bid to raise awareness through informative articles and competitions that encourage safe travel. It is hoped the campaign will help to reduce road accidents during the long weekend.

    MVA Fund public education manager Eliphas Rukambe said efforts to improve road safety were yielding positive results but more needed to be done to save the lives of road users.

    “Young people of 16 - 35 years are the most affected vulnerable road users. The Newspaper Cup is taking place in Swakopmund and more than 400 youngsters will be heading to the tournament and through concerted efforts and complementing road-safety interventions, the battle of carnage on the roads will be won,” Rukambe said.

    Total Namibia managing director Naftal Kakwambi said his company had contributed nearly N$800 000 to the campaign over the last two years.

    “When it comes to good intentions such as saving lives, there are not enough resources or too much of that, as lives cannot be compared to, neither be replaced with any amount of money or resources.”

    He assured the Namibian public that Total Namibia would continue with road-safety interventions with the aim of cultivating a safety culture on the roads to avoid unnecessary accidents and loss of lives.

    Hennie Geldenhuys of NMH said road safety was everyone's responsibility.

    “People tend to blame the conditions, attitudes and the lack of national enforcement, but the truth is we need to look at ourselves and blame ourselves for being reckless. Road safety concerns everybody and it is a message that needs to be repeated,” Geldenhuys said.


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    Fishermen, miners demand justiceFishermen, miners demand justiceDemand the dismissal of judges who ruled against them Former TCL mineworkers and fishermen who were fired after an illegal strike in 2015 have joined their causes with the support of the Workers Revolutionary Party. JANA-MARI SMITH

    A petition signed by more than a thousand beleaguered fishermen and former Tsumeb miners was handed over to labour and justice officials in Windhoek yesterday, demanding that alleged corruption by High Court judges and labour officials be investigated.

    A group consisting of members of United Fishermen of Namibia, as well as former miners employed at the Tsumeb Corporation Limited (TCL), with the support of the Workers Revolutionary Party, handed over the petition that contained a number of serious allegations against Labour Court officials as well as High Court judges who had presided over their court cases.

    “We the United Fishermen, the former TCL workers, mineworkers and workers of the community of Tsumeb, send this letter to you to notify you that we will not accept corruption in the courts under your leadership,” the letter’s introduction stated.

    The letter alleged ongoing bribery of “incompetent and spineless arbitrators” by fishing companies and alleged that “the judges of the Labour Court area also bribed”.

    The petitioners demanded the removal of judges who had ruled against them in court cases.

    Mathew Lungameni, a spokesperson for the fishermen, said the fishermen and miners wanted a meeting with the government to resolve the issue.

    Other actions

    The same group of about 30 fishermen had marched to the offices of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation in Walvis Bay in mid-March.

    They handed over a petition demanding the reinstatement of fishermen who had been dismissed after an illegal strike in November 2015. They also demanded overtime payment backdated to 2008.

    Yesterday, a copy of the new petition was handed to High Court deputy chief registrar Steven Rou-Rou, and afterwards another copy was handed to a Supreme Court deputy registrar.

    The final copy was handed to the permanent secretary of labour, Bro-Mathew Shinguadja.

    The petition accused High Court Judge Petrus Unengu, who had presided over the court case in December 2015, of refusing to listen to their objections that “it was a criminal case and not a labour case”.

    The petition accused the judge of abusing his position “to rule in favour of fishing companies of whom we were not employees”.

    The petition stated that the fishermen and miners were “returning to court to redeem our rights. We seek and demand justice and not corruption.”

    Justice due in Tsumeb

    The petition stated that the former TCL miners had been subject to similar injustices in 2009 when the High Court heard a matter regarding pensions.

    “They were treated with disrespect, they received no seating space. They were made to stand like cattle at a drinking trough, while the judge lunched and joked with TCL management’s lawyers and allowed a private lawyer to stand in for the government lawyer. Objections were ignored by Judge Naomi Shivute,” the petition alleged.

    Yesterday’s petition was part of a drawn-out battle by the fishermen which began in November 2015 when around 800 employees embarked on a wildcat strike.

    At the time, the fishermen said they were required to work illegal shifts that did not adhere to Labour Act regulations.

    They also complained about a lack of healthcare at sea. Another issue was a lack of intervention by the labour ministry following extensive inspections of fishing companies, they said.

    Meanwhile, many of the striking fishermen’s positions were filled and the fishing companies refused to re-employ them.

    Lungameni yesterday said that the implications of losing their jobs had been stressful. He said a number of former fishermen had committed suicide in the past 18 months, as the situation was unbearable.

    Isidor Mukuve, who joined the group yesterday on behalf of former TCL mineworkers, told Namibian Sun that the miners were seeking justice for unpaid pension funds dating back to 1996, as well as company houses in Tsumeb that were allegedly “expropriated” unlawfully and unjustly.

    He claimed that close to N$1 billion in pension payments were owed to more than 4 000 former mineworkers.

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    Two more killed on Okahandja-Otjiwarongo road Two more killed on Okahandja-Otjiwarongo road ELLANIE SMIT

    The number of people killed in car crashes on the road between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo this week has risen to four.

    An Iveco bus carrying 28 passengers overturned on the road at 01:00 yesterday morning, killing two people.

    According to the police the accident happened on the B1 road about 70km outside Otjiwarongo on the way to Okahandja.

    One of the passengers who died was identified as Carlo Abrahams (30). The other deceased is a woman in her late forties.

    According to the police the other passengers were seriously injured.

    No further details have been made available.

    On Monday morning two people were killed on the same road when a government vehicle allocated to youth and sport minister Jerry Ekandjo collided head-on with a VW Golf north of Okahandja.

    Ekandjo’s driver, Johnny Lusiano, and the driver of the Golf, Jafet Amukutsi (44), died in the crash.

    Meanwhile, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund says statistics recorded from 1 January to 9 April show that 153 people died in 972 crashes during that period, while 1 605 people sustained various degrees of injury.

    Compared to the same time last year, there has been a 14% decline in crashes, 12% fewer injuries and 15% fewer fatalities.

    Between 1 January and 31 March the MVA Fund received 147 funeral claims of which 144 were paid to the value of N$1 million. The remaining three claims will be settled as soon as complete claims are submitted.

    The fund also paid out N$5.7 million for loss of support, and has committed to pay N$41.6 million for medical cost management.

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  • 04/11/17--16:00: Taxis at war
  • Taxis at warTaxis at warOrder in sector must be restored Faster, cheaper seven-seater sedans are snatching clients from small bus operators, causing a dangerous standoff between rival operators. The Namibian Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) and the Namibian Public Passenger Transport Association (NPPTA) yesterday staged a joint protest action when they encircled and blocked seven-seater taxis in Windhoek.

    The unionised bus drivers were staging the protest since around 12:00 from the B1 service station opposite the Katutura State Hospital where the seven-seaters pick up their customers. The protest started at the Rehoboth taxi rank earlier in the morning and later moved on to another rank.

    The unions claim that the 100 or so seven-seaters now on Namibian roads are operating illegally, without the required permits and are undercutting their prices, leaving the more than 500 legally operating buses without customers.

    The seven-seaters made their entrance into the public transport market about five years ago with the growing importation of cheap second-hand vehicles from Japan.

    Some of the seven-seaters are said to have shuttle permits, which allow them to transport passengers to and from Hosea Kutako International Airport only.

    According to Nabta and NPPTA the public transport legislation stipulates that seven-seaters are only allowed to transport passengers within a radius of 70 kilometres. Local taxis are only allowed to transport passengers within a 25-kilometre radius.

    However, the seven-seaters have taken on long-haul trips from Windhoek to Walvis Bay, Grootfontein, Tsumeb, Rundu and other northern towns, leaving the buses literally in the dust because they allegedly also do not stick to speed limits.

    The seven-seaters are accused of causing at least two car accidents per month on the national roads because they do not adhere to speed limits.

    “Every car that falls is a seven-seater. They are killing people and then the public transport sector gets the blame,” said the secretary-general of NPPTA, Nathan Africa.

    The unions further say while buses are obliged to have trailers for passengers' luggage, passengers in seven-seaters often are forced to keep their luggage on their laps.

    The faster seven-seaters are said to do up to 10 long-haul trips per week while buses these days only manage about two per week.

    Bus drivers say while there used to be at least 49 buses leaving the Rhino Park taxi rank, only nine buses able to garner enough passengers to warrant long-haul trips left last month.

    The bus drivers say their monthly salaries have shrunk to about N$7 000 while illegal operators of seven-seaters easily rake in at least N$18 000 per month.

    “Those who have issued permits should resolve this mess,” said Edison Handura, the chairperson of the B1 loading rank.

    “If the government allows illegal drivers, then they must let us all drive illegally on the roads. Alternatively, we all sell our buses and operate seven-seaters.”

    The requirements are that public transporters must display a licence disc, an operator's licence disc, a permit disc as well as a roadworthiness disc. The seven-seaters allegedly have none of these.

    Bus drivers therefore demand thorough inspections of all public transport vehicles at police checkpoints to stop illegal operators.

    “If things continue as they are now we will burn all seven-seaters,” said an angry bus driver who preferred to remain anonymous.

    At one stage of the protest action yesterday one seven-seater had indeed picked up some customers, who were hauled out of the car by the bus drivers and ushered to empty minibuses standing nearby.

    “I do not know what is going on,” said a stunned passenger.

    “We are not picking up passengers at Rhino Park. We are not stealing the road,” said a seven-seater owner, Mike Jacob. “We do not have a problem with the buses. It is the guys with the buses that have a problem with us.”

    Jacob was adamant that some seven-seaters do have long-haul permits. This is disputed by the unions, who say that any long-haul permits issued to seven-seaters were done at variance with the law on public transport.

    The standoff at the B1 loading zone was dissolved after the unions, service station owner Len Haasbroek and the police met and concluded that all the seven-seaters and buses should leave the premises.

    Pendapala Nakathingo, the secretary-general of Nabta, said the unions would continue to negotiate with the Ministry of Works and Transport and Natis to ensure that order in the long-haul public transport sector was restored.

    “We will not tolerate this lawlessness any longer,” said Nakathingo, adding that the unions would keep up the pressure on the seven-seaters.


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    Ondonga infighting continues unabatedOndonga infighting continues unabated The Ondonga Traditional Authority has withdrawn an urgent court application that had sought to interdict the inauguration of Ester Gwashamba Nepando as the new senior headman of the Uukwanambwa District.

    The urgent application was withdrawn late on Monday following a demonstration by a group supporting Nepando.

    A meeting by the Ondonga King's Council last month resolved that Nepando's appointment as a senior councillor was illegal and not procedural.

    Nepando was named as the new senior councillor in the place of Wilbard Lidker, who had been fired in February. Nepando, the king's wife Secilia, Sheehama, and urban and rural development minister Sophia Shaningwa were listed as respondents. King Elifas was also listed as a respondent in the matter – which appears to have irked supporters of Nepando.

    OTA secretary Joseph Asino confirmed the withdrawal of the court application, but declined to comment on the reasons behind such a decision.

    “Yes is true that we withdrew our court application and that is all I can say at the moment,” Asino said yesterday.

    The traditional authority is reportedly split into two factions, with one supporting the nomination of Shuumbwa Nangolo as Ondonga kingdom heir apparent, while another grouping, opposing Nangolo's nomination, is led by the king's wife.

    According to sources, Nangolo only came learn about Nepando's inauguration from some senior councillors as the matter had not been officially communicated to him.

    “We are just in the dark here and Nangolo was supposed to inform us. When Lidker was fired it was communicated to us by senior councillors closer to kuku Secilia and they are the same people who communicated to us about the appointment of Nepando.

    “Since the withdrawal of the court application we do not know if they are going ahead with the inauguration and who is going to do her installation on behalf of the king and who is going to represent OTA,” the source said.

    Onandjamba's village headman Jerry Kambala, who was part of Monday's demonstration, refused to talk to Namibian Sun on the way forward.

    Queen hits back

    The OTA has long been alleging that the king's wife Secilia is meddling in the traditional affairs of the kingdom. She has reportedly been taking advantage of her ailing husband to interfere in the day-to-day running of the traditional authority.

    “Since she is the only person who communicates s to the king regularly, she was supposed to consult Nangolo as the king's representative and (Peter) Kauluma as OTA chairperson before endorsing the decision. But she opted to use certain groups of individuals, some of whom are not OTA councillors,” the source maintained.

    Secilia denied the allegations in an interview with Namibian Sun, saying she had been closely following the developments as well as the accusations against her by the OTA.

    “Ask how many letters I wrote to the OTA demanding for them to call me to appear before them. If allegations they are making against me are true why are they not summoning me before them? Instead they are continuing to accuse me,” said Secilia.

    For its part, the OTA said they refused to take any action against her to protect her from potential embarrassment. “We do not want to summon our own queen. It will be a big embarrassment for us and the whole Ondonga,” the OTA said.


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     Court orders 7de Laan 15 to vacate land Court orders 7de Laan 15 to vacate land The urgent application brought by the Affirmative Repositioning against the City of Windhoek following the demolitions of 15 ‘illegal’ structures has been dismissed in part, with the court ordering the applicants to vacate the property by 28 April 2017. Judge Shafimana Ueitele delivered the judgement this morning in the High Court. Part B of the application, which was to review the actions of the City, has been postponed to 26 April for status review. The full judgement will only be available at 14:00 this afternoon. AR-appointed lawyers will meet with the evicted homeowners this evening to discuss the judgement and the way forward. Read the full details in tomorrow’s Namibian Sun.

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  • 04/12/17--05:30: Repo rate still 7%
  •  Repo rate still 7% Repo rate still 7% The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Namibia (BoN) this week kept the repo rate unchanged at 7%.
    According to BoN governor Ipumbu Shiimi, the rate was maintained to support economic growth while also maintaining the one-to-one link between the Namibia dollar and the rand.
    With the rate unchanged, inflation closed at 7.8% for the month of February, marking a decrease from the high of 8.2% witnessed in January. The high inflation levels observed in 2017 were mainly driven by the rise in the inflation rates for major categories such as housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, food and transport.
    The growth of consumer and business loans also slowed with Private Sector Credit Extension slowing to an average of 8.8% for the months of January and February 2017 respectively.
    This marks a satisfactory decline from the high of 13.7% recorded for the month of January 2016 alone.
    International reserves stood at N$22.3 billion, translating into three months of import cover. This is also sufficient to support the one-to-one peg with the rand.
    The MPC will meet again on 13 June 2017 to deliberate on repo rate matters.


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    Govt exceeded housing targets - GeingobGovt exceeded housing targets - Geingob President Hage Geingob says government is on track with its Harambee Prosperity Plan targets, highlighting that 7 754 plots have been serviced countrywide, exceeding the annual target of 6 000.
    The president, who was delivering his State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly, also stated that 5 554 houses were completed countrywide in the first year of Harambee.
    This, he said, a target of 5 000 was exceeded.
    “Unfortunately, some houses remain unoccupied for too long due to the bureaucratic process involved in the transfer of ownership of land,” he said.
    “I am pleased to report that we have made good progress with servicing residential land, especially in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Outapi and Oshakati. In Windhoek, we are also making progress, albeit at a slower pace.”
    Geingob also used the platform to appeal to Namibians to engage each other with respect when dealing with the land question. “As far as the land question is concerned, let me make it clear that we do not have to fight each other. I honestly believe that we are on the same page as far as the objective of land reform is concerned. We may however disagree on the modalities of how to achieve this objective,” he said.
    Geingob added that Swapo fought hard to liberate Namibia.
    “How can anyone think that the Swapo-led government will be against Namibians owning land? Swapo fought for the Independence of Namibia in order for Namibians to decide on our own destiny, including issues around land.”


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  • 04/12/17--08:39: Sport makes it into SONA
  • Sport makes it into SONA Sport makes it into SONA

    President Hage Geingob has finally given an indication that the government will now also focus more on sport than it has done in the past.
    Geingob acknowledged in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that little has been done by the government to improve the sector.
    “This year, we will also pay more attention to the importance of sport in creating opportunities for young people,” Geingob said.
    The head of state said he will instruct the minister of sport to conclude the amendment of the Sport Act and to review the Sport Policy which has been idle for many years.
    He believes that the finalising of the Act will create a bigger picture as to what has to be done by the government to rejuvenate sport in the country.
    The new Act is expected to define and prioritise the national sport codes to guide funding and development towards these codes.
    Geingob has instructed the minister to spearhead the finalisation of the process within the second quarter of the year.
    Jesse Jackson Kauraisa

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  • 04/12/17--16:00: Local promoters back Indongo
  • Local promoters back IndongoLocal promoters back IndongoNamibian and Scottish ring war is on There are just two days left before the Namibian flag flies high in Europe as two world boxing champions finally clash. Local boxing promoters have all united to stand behind Namibia's son of the soil Julius 'Blue Machine' Indongo in his next fight.

    Kinda Nangolo, Anita Tjombe and Kiriata Kamanya are urging the IBO and IBF world champion to bring the title home. Indongo faces the bookmakers' favourite, Ricky Burns, in the WBA, IBF and IBO title unification bout on Saturday in Glasgow, Scotland. Kinda Nangolo of Kinda Promotions said he was positive that Indongo would return with the title.

    “He just has to focus and do his job. Burns's knockout rate is low. He is not a good boxer, so I am not afraid that our boxer will lose,” Nangolo said. Anita Tjombe from Iron Lady Promotions shared the same view, saying that in boxing history, the fight is in the interest of Indongo and his career. “Boxing is a tricky business as it can go either way, but I know he trained hard so thumbs up to him,” she said. Salute Boxing Promotions' Kiriata Kamanya joined the bandwagon of well-wishers, saying that Indongo's fight in Scotland would promote the Namibian boxing fraternity. He said it would show the talent the country had to offer in terms of boxing. “More international fights for boxers will give us a good reputation.

    “Indongo is the best and has great advantage over Burns and if it was not for a lack of funds I would be in Scotland cheering him on,” Kamanya said.

    After months of practice, the boxers have it all to show for in the much-anticipated fight.

    The 34-year old Indongo has excelled at the professional level, without any loss, giving him the edge over his 33-year-old Scottish opponent who has five losses.

    However, the odds may favour the Scotsman given that he will be fighting on his home ground.

    Indongo's promoter, Nestor Tobias from MTC Nestor 'Sunshine' Tobias Fitness and Boxing Academy, spoke to Namibian Sun from Glasgow.

    Tobias kept mum on their preparations, only divulging that they were focused and ready for Saturday.

    Trainer SBK Kaperu believes that Indongo is well prepared for the showdown. He says he has been training Indongo since he was young and he knows his trainee has something special to offer. He describes the boxer as a humble, hardworking person who goes the extra mile in the gym. “Since his amateur days he has never been shy of confidence and has always been helpful towards his fellow boxers. “Indongo is not just like any ordinary person, because what he does at times is simply out of this world. Attention to tactics is one of the things that have made the boxer who he is at the moment,” Kaperu says.

    Who is Julius Indongo?

    He is unbeaten in 21 fights, with 21 wins, 0 losses, 0 draws and 11 KOs. Indongo won the IBF title in his last fight by knocking out Eduard Troyanovsky from Russia in the opening round. He also represented his country at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, fighting at the lightweight limit.

    Who is Ricky Burns?

    Burns has 47 fights, 41 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw and 14 KOs.

    He has held the WBA super-lightweight title since 2016, having previously held the WBO super-featherweight title from 2010 to 2011, and the WBO lightweight title from 2012 to 2014.


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