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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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    Radical societal transformation firstRadical societal transformation first The term ‘radical economic transformation’ has of late become a trend in South African politics. While the term has no clear definition, a deduction has been made that it refers to the ability of all citizens to become financially independent and own some sort of assets that they can use as collateral when applying for business loans etc., from financial institutions such as banks.

    I must also point out that the debate around radical economic transformation has to a large extent been around race and it must be centered on race because race has for long defined the line between the haves and the have nots in African societies. Radical economic transformation is therefore not only a South African debate, but an African debate. However, for African governments to achieve some sort of economic utopia for previously disadvantaged communities, ‘radical societal transformation’ must first take place. I define radical societal transformation as the action of previously advantaged societies - like white people - recognising and admitting that they had and still have an unfair economic advantage over their black counterparts. That is the first step towards radical societal transformation.

    The second step is for the previously advantaged societies to give up some of their vast assets to previously disadvantaged societies in order to bridge the gap in inequality caused by their forefathers. Radical societal transformation not only applies to previously advantaged communities, it also applies to the modern-day bourgeoisie which is our black brothers and sisters who advance western white monopoly capital at the expense of the black working class. That is the only way we can address the land issue. I recognise that achieving this is not going to be easy and that is why it’s called radical. We must therefore be prepared to move away from the conventional system of governance that we have if we are to achieve radical societal transformation.

    I am a democrat, but I also recognise that absolute democracy can be a stumbling block in addressing issues of land redistribution and bridging the gap between the rich and poor. Radical societal transformation also goes beyond the economic problems of African societies, we need to radically transform the way our school system divides colour, we need to transform the way our locations define colour and status. We need to decolonise our basic and tertiary education curricula. We most importantly need to transform and decolonise our language policies especially in our school system. Radical societal transformation is about integrating society as one in order for our society to gel in a harmonious manner. Once we gel and agree on a common purpose for Africa, we can then bridge that gap between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and achieve what we refer to as ‘radical economic transformation’.


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  • 05/15/17--16:00: Loving the lens
  • Loving the lensLoving the lensTips for photographers It takes a lot to be a good photographer, here are some ingredients that’s makes the work of a photographer to stand out. How does one create a photographer? It is simple. You take an individual, preferably one with a little too much curiosity. Add a healthy dose of imagination and creativity. Subtract the desire to be photographed completely, because… logic. Divide their bank account a few times, as heaven knows that professional photography is a lovely exercise in financial masochism. Multiply their itch for the limelight and; finally, sprinkle a generous helping of dopamine at the sight of a happy client tagging them in a newly uploaded pic on Instagram. Voila! Your very own shutterbug! Make sure to feed him at parties.

    Nobody really gets into photography for the money; the price of a decent camera body alone will humble you. I actually got inspired into taking up photography by following the journey of Brandon Stanton, an award-winning American photo journalist who has travelled the globe with his camera, capturing the stories of hundreds of individuals across cultures and generations and uploading them to his page, “Humans of New York” (HONY) on Facebook. From teachers to engineers, inmates to nurses, soldiers to children and the sick to the disabled, Brandon has managed to bring out the humanity in each individual and help shatter stereotypes about people in far-off places we only ever hear about on TV. That ability to alter perspectives is what I find incredibly powerful about the lens. In the right hands, a camera can say so much without saying a word.

    In my time shooting, I have been blessed to meet so many different personalities. Souls brimming with maternal warmth, for example. Corporates astride an abundance of ambition. Creatives overflowing with passion. Stage-bugs with a flair for the dramatic. Kids with highly dental smiles. Fathers. Soldiers. Mechanics. Doctors. Models. Pilots. Graduates. Designers. Dreamers. Facial expressions - love those. I have shot on busy streets, in parks, in bushes, in clubs, on skyscrapers, in cars, in houses, in gyms, in offices, in bedrooms, on bridges, in stores, in stalls, and in halls. When it comes to photography, the lens obeys your imagination.

    My ideal clients are those who come to me with creative concepts. “Hey Mo, let’s take a shot of me walking in my graduation gown on a dusty road, with the blurred silhouette of Havana in the background”. #Sigh. The things we do for the ‘gram.


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    The dark side of   being differentThe dark side of being differentFighting to be accepted in society Members of the LGBTI community in the country share their stories of living in a society that discriminates against them on religious and cultural grounds. Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex (LGBTI) is an acronym used to refer to persons with sexual and gender identities that differ from those which are accepted as 'regular'. The Zone caught up with two members of this community who were willing to talk about and share their experiences of living in a society where they are not accepted by everyone.

    Linda Reanate Baumann identifies herself as a lesbian and tells The Zone that she discovered that she was lesbian when she was seven years old. However, she says it took her about 13 years to acknowledge her gender identity and come 'out of the closet'.

    “I did not tell anyone when I realised that I am a lesbian,” Baumann said.

    After many years of hiding her sexual identity, when she finally told her parents she was told to either 'stop that lifestyle' or 'move out of her parents' home. “I was asked to stop being a lesbian or move out of the house. I chose the latter,” she said.

    Baumann explains that in Namibia it is very hard to come out of the closet because generally, a lot of families are not open to different sexualities and the broader Namibian society is not tolerant towards LGBTI people. As a teenager, Baumann played with the concept of gender because she knew gender is not fixed and knew too, that sex is fixed. “I do not have body politics… I love being a woman,” she defended.

    She revealed that while growing up, people used to call her a tomboy, because she did not fit the norm of a woman. “A girl is expected to dress in a certain way and behave in a certain way which I did not do.”

    Baumann narrates that when it comes to having relationships she feels it is unfair because as a lesbian, showing affection to her partner in public is not tolerated.

    She explains that she finds herself in places where she knows she can share her affection but there are times and places where she knows she cannot share it at all. “Sometimes you end up having a partner and no one, except your close friends, know about it. When you are in public you act like you are just friends,” she explained.

    Baumann maintains that one cannot forever hide a relationship but she is also being careful because it has a great impact on employment opportunities, friends' associations and the way people look at her. “It is difficult and so unfair to know that you cannot share your love openly with somebody you really love immensely,” Baumann said.

    She told The Zone that she has been stigmatised because of her sexual identity before, syaing that sometimes people stop and stare at her when she is in public places, which makes her uncomfortable. “We end finding ourselves within people that are tolerant and accept us and our lifestyles as we are,” Baumann said.

    She discloses that sexual orientation and identity also has an impact on how she accesses services in the country. “Services are not tailored to ensure that there is inclusivity. The only inclusive service is the HIV National Strategic Framework, where HIV services are delivered for LGBTI people,” she said.

    She also explains that access to information is one of the major challenges that the LGBTI people experience. Baumann admits that there is sufficient information about LGBTI communities around the world on the internet, however, Namibian stories about LGBTI are not well-documented. “Access to information about LGBTI in Namibia is one of the major challenges we have, however, in the last five years the print media has done exceptionally well by ensuring stories about LGBTI people are reported on,” she said.

    The Zone also caught up with Celine Watson-Eises who is transgender – in other words, a person who has a sense of identity and gender which does not correspond with the birth sex.

    Watson-Eises admits that she was born male but does not conform to her gender because she believes that she is a woman. “I was born male but I identify myself as female,” said Watson-Eises.

    She explained that as she was growing up she always knew she was different. “I noticed that I was different when I was 12 but I did not know then what the terms were, transgender was unknown to me back then,” she said.

    She disclosed that her mom always treated her differently from an early age and would relate to her more as a girl than she would a boy. She maintains that she did not come out in the closet on her own. “My mom helped me to come out of the closet because she knew who I was from an early age,” she said.

    Just like Baumann, Watson-Eises also maintains that it is quite challenging fostering good relationships with family members and she feels unwelcome at family gatherings. “My own family members shun me by showing me through their body language that I am not welcome. Some do not want to be associated with me and some tolerate me because I am family but do not want to engage in conversations with me,” she said.

    She said that she grew up not having much of a say in family affairs because she was different and culturally not accepted. “I was isolated and family members used derogatory terms to describe me.”

    The same applies when it comes to having a partner. She explained that when she first brought her partner home her mother was the only one who welcomed us.

    “My dad was so ashamed he did not speak to me or my partner and my younger siblings were never told about my partner,” she said. She explained that her younger siblings were told he was simply her friend.

    Watson-Eises pleads for people to try and understand the next person, where they are coming from, what made them be who they are or how they have come about to choose how they want to live their life. “It is not easy even for us because I might not accept myself too, I might not want to live with the fact that I am transgender but yet, it is the reality and there is nothing I can do about it,” she said.

    Meanwhile the leadership of the Rights for All Movement (RAM) and Namibia Diverse Women's Association (NDWA) recently engaged the Namibian police on LGBTI issues. The leaders of these organisations presented key issues affecting the access to justice the LGBTI community face with regards to reporting violations of their rights. The meeting also touched on investigations, detention and the need to support the Namibian police in sensitising law enforcement agents to create an enabling environment for their own staff members who identify as LGBTI.


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    Building intellectual propertyBuilding intellectual propertyKeeping learners educated during school holidays Lukas Tonateni Komomeya has dedicated his private time to offer classes to learners during school holidays. Komomeya is the operations manager of the Math and Science Boot Camp. Komomeya, who is a former teacher at Mweshipandeka High School and Oshakati Senior Secondary School, is also the reigning National Youth Award winner for the category Young Person of Academic Excellence.

    He explains that the aim of his boot camp is to provide learners with another chance to learn as well as emphasise and address the learned content to address all challenging areas they experience during mainstream teaching.

    “With the boot camp we guide learners on how to correctly answer questions, and help them write examinations to help them succeed academically,” he said.

    He added that the maths and science boot camp is a platform that offers holiday classes to learners with the aim of enhancing quality education.

    These private tutorials are also a decentralised approach to the services offered at Glowdom incubation centre in Ongwediva. “Through a well-structured registration process at Glowdom Incubation Centre, we offer extra classes through a blended learning approach,” said Komomeya.

    The programme runs for five days of which learners have two hours per subject per day, making up 10 hours per subject per session.

    Sessions differ as per available time with the shortest session being two days long (during weekends).

    Students list their problem areas in mainstream teaching, they are then re-taught through the boot camp concepts and later assessed as per national assessment standard and award system.

    Komomeya adds that the initiative was launched to contribute to the Global Sustainable Development Goals. He explains that with the boot camp he contributes to the provision of quality education and also to meet the government's effort halfway with regard to that. “The main aim is to help learners prosper as we move towards building intellectual chattels,” he said. He maintains that learners just like anyone else, always deserve another chance which is why he is providing them with this during the holidays.

    He explains that he came up with this initiative because from his 10 years of teaching he has learned that in Namibian schools learner-to-teacher time is quite limited. “This is why I have pledged to provide platforms for learners to have one-on-one discussions with teachers to help them master areas that they struggle with,” he said.

    Learners can be part of the boot camp through an online portal called Glowdom.

    “We have developed an e-learning platform and learners can register by going to our website glowdom.com to register or by simply sending an SMS with name, subject and constituency/town to 0815851543,” said Komomeya.

    For the on-going Ongwediva boot camp there are seven teachers on-site for different subjects and organisers have a further five different teachers lined up for the Eenhana boot camp, and four teachers later this month in Windhoek. For this April school holiday Komomeya is visiting Outapi, Ongwediva, Eenhana and Windhoek. He plans to expand the boot camp to different towns if the demand for his services increases.

    Komomeya maintains that it is very important to keep learners busy with educational activities during their leisure time because when they are unattended to or too free learners are likely to engage in questionable things.

    “It is important to engage learners in activities that add value to their lives and the concept of the boot camp is called positive distraction,” said Komomeya.

    He added that corporates interested in sponsoring his boot camp are welcome because their help will be used to expand the effort to include more towns.

    “Companies can use this platform to give back to the community as part of their social responsibility.

    We need each other to move a mountain,” he said. The project also hopes to secure public-private partnership agreements with educational stakeholders, local and international agencies.

    Although the main subjects targeted for his boot camp are science subjects, they also offer other subjects such as English, Accounting, Oshindonga, Oshikwanyama and Entrepreneurship. “

    Because of the demand we also tutor learners in subjects that are not science-related,” he said. Komomeya defends putting more emphasis on science subjects in his educational boot camp by stating that there have been several calls to produce more scientists, engineers, nurses as Namibia moves toward an industrialised country.

    He called on the public to be part of his boot camp stating that only through a collaborative effort can we can reach the masses.

    “I call on parents to send their kids to attend lessons at this boot camp during school holidays because it will keep them off the streets and help them improve their academic performance at school,” he said.


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  • 05/15/17--16:00: The art of education
  • The art of educationThe art of education Education in arts is an integral part of any person's learning process. Many have studied in the area of art throughout the history of mankind. One of these was Plato who emphasised the importance of a fine-arts education and why society needs it. An arts education refers to education in the disciplines of music, dance, theatre, and the visual arts. I personally believe that fine arts also provides learners with non-academic benefits such as promoting self-esteem, motivation, aesthetic awareness, cultural exposure, creativity, improved emotional expression, as well as social harmony and the appreciation of diversity.

    If art has so many benefits why then do parents shy away from letting their children take up more careers in the arts industries? Why are many youth opting to study for other courses while they can major in arts? You're also helping your children develop mentally, socially, and emotionally if you let them practice their art. Creating art may boost young children's ability to analyse and problem-solve in innumerable ways. There are a number of benefits that come with art that I can highlight such as arts promoting the understanding and sharing of culture. Arts also promote social skills that enhance the awareness and respect of others. The fine arts enhance perceptual and cognitive skills that are important for people's overall emotional intelligence.

    We all watch television and films. Some of the content on TV has been produced by people who are great in arts so why do we not allow our children to excel in this field? A lot of what artists do is to tell stories. They help us make sense of our world, and they broaden our experience and understanding. The arts enable us to imagine the unimaginable, and connect us to the past, the present, and the future, sometimes simultaneously.

    Artists can be very powerful. Artists can fortify the will of the masses and push people to act. Artists do not think like policymakers or academics. Artists think from their heart. They are revolutionary and visionary. This is why artists are able to move people to action, thus creating a significant cultural and political contribution toward society. Just visit any art gallery in Namibia and you will get to experience what I am talking about.

    Art studies touch on many subjects in ways that a teacher will ever explain to any young person. By counting pieces and colours, they learn the basics of math. When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science. Most importantly perhaps… when kids feel good while they are creating, they are boosting their self-confidence. And children who feel able to experiment and to make mistakes feel free to invent new ways of thinking, which extend well beyond the crafts rooms of institutions. When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be important in their adult lives.

    I meet many young people who are gifted poets, musicians, painters and designers but they cannot fully express themselves in their speciality because “My parents do not believe in arts as a career”. Parents or guardians need to understand that the arts, like any other career, is just as relevant and they should allow their children to practice this freely. The government should also put more emphasis on including fine arts in our primary and secondary school curricula. We need doctors, lawyers and scientists but there is also a need for musicians, painters and designers as they also contribute towards the country's vision.

    The old and traditional mentality that people cannot make a living from arts needs to change. Many of the youth who do fine arts become graphic designers, fashion designers and creative directors as well. The opportunities are countless and parents and guardians should not inhibit the talent that many of the kids possess.

    Perhaps the most essential element to education one should consider is the manner in which we observe and make sense of the world in which we live. An effective edification in the fine arts helps students to see what they look at, hear what they listen to, and feel what they touch. Engagement in the fine arts helps students to stretch their minds beyond the boundaries of the printed text or the rules of what is provable. The arts free the mind from rigid certainty. Imagine the benefits of seeking, finding, and developing multiple explanations to the number of problems facing our society today!

    Until next time. Peri nawa!!


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    World braces for more cyber-attacksWorld braces for more cyber-attacks A cyber-attack that has hit 150 countries since Friday should be treated by governments around the world as a “wake-up call”, Microsoft says. Governments and computer experts girded Monday for a possible worsening of the global cyber-attack that has hit more than 150 countries, as Microsoft warned against stockpiling vulnerabilities like the one at the heart of the crisis.

    European policing and security agencies said the fallout from a ransomware attack that has already crippled more than 200 000 computers around the world could deepen as people return for another work week.

    The indiscriminate attack began Friday and struck banks, hospitals and government agencies, exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

    US package delivery giant FedEx, European car factories, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, Britain's health service and Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit.

    In China, “hundreds of thousands” of computers at nearly 30 000 institutions and organisations were infected by late Saturday, according to Qihoo 360, one of China's largest providers of antivirus software.

    Government agencies and universities were among those hit as well as petrol stations, ATMs and hospitals, it said.

    Europol executive director Rob Wainwright said the situation could worsen yesterday when workers return to their offices after the weekend and log on.

    “We've never seen anything like this,” the head of the European Union's policing agency told Britain's ITV television Sunday, calling its reach “unprecedented”.

    Wainwright described the cyberattack as an “escalating threat”.

    “I'm worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday,” he said.

    The warning was echoed by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre: “As a new working week begins it is likely, in the UK and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale.”

    The attack looks like this: images appear on victims' screens demanding payment of US$300 (275 euros) in the virtual currency Bitcoin, saying: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”

    Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days the locked files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

    Bitcoin, the world's most-used virtual currency, allows anonymous transactions via heavily encrypted codes.

    Experts and governments alike warn against ceding to the demands and Wainwright said few victims so far had been paying up.

    Security firm Digital Shadows said on Sunday that transactions totalling US$32,000 had taken place through Bitcoin addresses used by the ransomware.

    The culprits used a digital code believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency - and subsequently leaked as part of a document dump, according to researchers at the Moscow-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

    A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April, claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, Kaspersky said.

    Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, said in a blog post Sunday that it was in fact the NSA that developed the code being used in the attack.

    He warned governments against stockpiling such vulnerabilities and said instead they should report them to manufacturers - not sell, store or exploit them, lest they fall into the wrong hands.

    “An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen,” Smith wrote.

    “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wakeup call.”

    The attack is unique, according to Europol, because it combines ransomware with a worm function, meaning once one machine is infected, the entire internal network is scanned and other vulnerable machines are infected.

    The attack therefore spread faster than previous, smaller-scale ransomware attacks.

    Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe.


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    Gunfire heard in two I.Coast cities in grip of mutinyGunfire heard in two I.Coast cities in grip of mutiny Gunfire was heard early yesterday in the Ivory Coast cities of Abidjan and Bouake, in the grip of a mutiny by ex-rebel soldiers, AFP journalists and witnesses said.

    In the economic capital of Abidjan, shots were fired at two military camps in Akouedo in the east of the city, which together form the country's largest military barracks, a nearby resident said.

    Sustained gunfire was also heard in the second-largest city of Bouake, where one person died on Sunday from bullet wounds sustained in clashes between the former rebels, some of whom have now been integrated into the army, and those who have disarmed but are not integrated.

    The mutineers often fire in the air to express their anger over the non-payment of bonuses.

    Access roads into Akouedo were closed, preventing residents from the east of Abidjan from entering the city, an AFP reporter said.

    Shots were also heard from the Gallieni camp in the centre of the city.

    The armed forces chief of staff, General Sekou Toure, said in a statement Sunday that “a military operation is underway to re-establish order” and made a televised appeal to the disgruntled soldiers to return to barracks.

    Former rebel soldiers mutinied in Bouake on Friday to demand the payment of bonuses.

    Under a deal negotiated with the government in January, struck after the ex-rebel soldiers' first mutiny, they were to be paid bonuses of 12 million CFA francs (18 000 euros) each, with an initial payment of five million francs that month.

    The remainder was to be paid starting this month, according to rebel sources.

    But the government has struggled to pay the soldiers the promised money, while the non-military ex-fighters are now demanding their own government payments.

    Bouake was the epicentre of the January mutiny, which triggered months of unrest.

    The city also served as the rebel headquarters after a failed 2002 coup which split Ivory Coast in half and led to years of unrest.

    On Thursday, a soldier presented as a spokesman for some 8,400 former rebels said in a televised ceremony that they wished to apologise to President Alassane Ouattara for the mutiny and renounced the demand for huge payouts.

    But this was largely viewed with scepticism in the former star French colony, which is slowly regaining its credentials as a West African powerhouse and a haven of peace and prosperity.

    Ivory Coast has an army of around 22 000, but falling cocoa prices have severely crimped the government's finances.

    Last year, the government unveiled an ambitious plan to modernise the military, part of which would involve the departure of several thousand men, particularly ex-rebels, who will not be replaced.


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  • 05/15/17--16:00: Shot of the day
  • Shot of the dayShot of the day NIFTY WORK: Uaetuiunne Tjimuhiva (15), a Grade 7 learner at Otjiwarongo, clearly has a inventive streak, as he demonstrated when he created two swings using plastic twine. Knotting the plastic string around a tree growing near the Otjiwarongo informal settlement, he and his friend Christofine Mupolo (10), a grade 4 learner, enjoyed an afternoon while on school break. PHOTO: JANA-MARI SMITH

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  • 05/15/17--16:00: Churches are too quiet
  • Churches are too quietChurches are too quiet Namibia's hosting of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Assembly has served as a reminder to many of us that the church has an important role to play in society. An overwhelming majority of Namibians consider themselves to be Christian and the expectation is that they live up to the values of Christianity and uphold morality. Today there are many and unprecedented problems facing humankind. Whereas there exist lasting solutions to these issues, there is a little evidence pointing to the fact that the many of us are actually demonstrating a caring attitude, especially when it comes to problems affecting the poor and downtrodden. Indeed the church has made significant contributions during our struggle years, becoming a voice to the voiceless when the fight was solely about freedom. So much has changed now since we gained our independence in 1990, but the church and its leaders remain respected. The spotlight is now on the issues of the day, ranging from social injustices, society's moral decay, abuse of power and the exploitation of women and children, among others. The mainstream church should not only look at rebuilding and reforming itself while repairing and restoring interreligious relationships. We need the church through religious discourse to play a bigger role in the public space. The church should be able to influence political debate on issues of the day. The church holds massive influence in community and it should never be overlooked when it comes to tackling social challenges such as moral decay. The young and old clergy must be able to plunge into social and political problems without fear or favour. Freedom of expression is guaranteed by our constitution and should there be any wrongs in our society, the church must not be silenced. We need to see more religious statements – across all faiths – in the mainstream media even if it means stepping on boundaries that are not welcome by the government of the day. At the moment, the church's silence is deafening to the say the least.

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  • 05/15/17--16:00: Angolans want change
  • Angolans want changeAngolans want changeSavimbi's cousin opens up to Namibian Sun With his finger on the pulse of Angolan politics, Sanders says Angolans will vote for change come 23 August. A close cousin of the late Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi says election fever has gripped his home country, claiming many people are ready to vote for change.

    Angolans will go to the polls on 23 August this year to choose a new leader to replace President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who is stepping down after 38 years at the helm.

    Dos Santos is, however, expected to retain control of the powerful MPLA party.

    In an exclusive interview with Namibian Sun last week, Abilio Chipanga, who has been living in Namibia for close to 56 years, said Angolans were excited ahead of the upcoming elections.

    The 82-year-old changed his identity to Salomon Sandondo Sanders when he first arrived in Namibia in 1961 after fleeing from the Portuguese military regime before Angola's independence.

    He told Namibian Sun that he was still a Unita supporter since joining the party in 1989.

    Unita has chosen Isaías Henrique Ngola Samakuva as its candidate for the elections, while the Angolan defence minister, Joao Lourenco, is the MPLA candidate for the national polls.

    “I just returned from Angola and election fever is real now. Unita has a huge following at the moment and if they lose the election, there will be chaos in Angola,” he said from his Omaalala residence.

    “It will not really be a civil war again, but just that there will be no peace and stability. For all these years I am in Namibia I have been following the political situation in Angola over the radio until now. The majority of the people are attributing the current social and economic crises of Angola to the MPLA under the leadership of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and they are tired now. Americans stopped giving aid to the Angolan government because it was only benefiting few individuals and not the whole country.”

    He singled out Unita and MPLA as the only strong parties in Angola.

    His Namibian journey

    Sanders told Namibian Sun he was born in 1935 at Kassisa village in the Bié province and was educated by the American missionaries in Chiresso together with his cousin Savimbi.

    “Savimbi was a class ahead of me. When he completed his education at Chiresso in 1953, he went to university, but the following year the Portuguese arrived in Angola. They reformed the education system and we were forced to start over again. I completed my secondary education at Instituto Ondodi Missionary in 1957 and became a teacher,” he said.

    Sanders said that he resigned from teaching and joined the Portuguese military in 1958 and he was trained as a soldier at the Regimento Huambo military base.

    “This was in 1960 while the MPLA was already established and was operating from Congo-Brazzaville, and it was also the time Patrice Lumumba started fighting the Angolans. I started mobilising other soldiers so that we turned against the Portuguese coloniser. In 1961 MPLA started war in Angola and was also the year that we were caught. Our names were identified and the Portuguese army commander ordered our arrests,” he said.

    According to Sanders, he fled into Namibia through Kavango in June 1961. When he entered the country at Rundu he first changed his identity and nationality before landing a job at a Johannesburg mine, where he only worked for a few months.

    In 1962 he moved to Ondangwa where he met with other Angolans as well as struggle icon Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo and Johannes Shihepo, who assisted him in getting a contract.

    While in Ondangwa, he was tipped off that the Portuguese authority had sent scouts to look for him.

    This forced Sanders to move to neighbouring Omaalala, which was another settlement for Angolans in Namibia.

    “In June 1973 while working in Oshakati some of my fellow Angolans reported me to the Portuguese and told them that I was in Oshakati. They said that I was selling weapons and diamonds. I was ordered to hand myself over at Oshikango and I was arrested. But since there was no criminal report against me after I had fled, they released me back into Namibia where I am staying until now.”

    He said he has no plans to go back and live in Angola and will continue visiting his family as has been the case.


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  • 05/15/17--16:00: Nabta launches control sheet
  • Nabta launches control sheetNabta launches control sheet The Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) recently launched a control sheet which it will use to monitor passenger movement between travel destinations.

    The control sheet will take down the names of passengers who board Nabta buses and will be used to identify next of kin in case of accidents, its chairman Vespa Muunda explained.

    At the launch he said “It has not been an easy task to have this control sheet launched. We have experienced many difficulties. We asked the police and some ministries but they were not sure what Nabta wanted to do. However, because of the accidents, they now know what Nabta intended to do.”

    According to Muunda, the control sheet is being launched 15 years after the idea was first mooted by the association.

    Said Muunda: “Whenever accidents happen, people will be easily identified and that information will only be given to the police. The police will then take the matter further by investigating.”

    Commenting on the recent accident which claimed the lives of 15 people, a visibly emotional Muunda said: “We do not want to see messages of condolences for 10 to 15 people anymore. It is very shameful. It does not make sense to lose 15 people in one second. We must change our behaviour.”

    Katutura central councillor Ambrosius Kandjii said that Nabta was moving in the right direction.

    “What has happened here is long overdue. We must not just launch the book but also look at using technology to track the names of people that board the buses,” he said.

    Added Kandjii: “I thought that Nabta was only there to negotiate taxi fares. I am also happy that you also care for the safety of your passengers.”

    Like Muunda, Kandjii was saddened at the number of road accidents occurring, saying: “It is now becoming a norm to have many road accidents. It seems to be something that we are just accepting.”

    Kandjii called on Nabta to lobby for decent transport infrastructure like loading zones, saying: “Have you seen how buses are overloaded? It is like fighting for a piece of chocolate getting into public transport. There is no efficiency but if you people [Nabta] do not put pressure on us as lawmakers, there will be no change. I am prepared to put my hand in to support.”


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  • 05/15/17--16:00: 'All inmates are legal'
  • 'All inmates are legal''All inmates are legal' The Correctional Services of Namibia has denied an allegation that the Windhoek Central Correctional facility is refusing to release 200 prisoners that have purportedly served their time.

    An SMS message to the press last week claimed that the management of the Windhoek prison is “unreasonable” and keeping the prisoners “illegally”.

    The spokesperson of the Correctional Services of Namibia, Deputy Commissioner Eveline January, said all inmates at the Windhoek prison are “lawfully detained” and that there is no “material proof” of any inmate detained after he or she has served his or her time.

    The Correctional Service Act No. 9 of 2012 provides for various lawful releases from correctional facilities such as when people are released on parole or after remission or upon sentence expiry.

    January said releases on parole and earned remissions are conditional while the release upon sentence expiry is unconditional.

    “Therefore, since the complaint was only specific on the total number of prisoners refused by the management and not the type of release was indicated, we can only invite the writer [of the SMS] to consult the officer in charge of the facility with details and information of the 200 inmates denied of their freedom,” said January in ridicule of the claim.


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    Namibia is failing its peopleNamibia is failing its people After 27 years of independence, the demographics in economic wealth distribution simply do not adequately reflect the ideals for which our forefathers fought. These demographics remain unacceptably skewed, with the economy being controlled by the minority. The word 'independence' is more meaningful to some than to others and this is concerning. If we look at what independence ought to mean, then unfortunately only the minority of Namibians are economically free.

    Ndumba J Kamwanyah makes no mistake when he writes about the lack of transparency in the fishing and lands industries, and how the economy is still run by former colonial beneficiaries and emerging black elites, in patterns similar to those which were used during colonial times. The integration and equality we hear of at rallies during every election season are seemingly only felt by those who can afford it and unfortunately this has had extreme effects on the majority of the Namibian population. When one out of two academically performing children has more opportunities, because they belong to the elite class, then we have a problem. When more money equals more or better opportunities, then we have a problem. And in a country plagued with corruption, this is where these injustices thrive. Just recently, the unfair allocation of land, once again, made headlines. This is nothing new in Namibia and this was only possible because the beneficiaries of these injustices could pay their way through the system or use their positions of power to have their names unfairly placed on top of resettlement lists.

    This is of particular concern when looking at the bizarre amounts of land which members in influential positions unfairly receive. More alarmingly, though, this is at the expense of Namibians whom this land is owed to. The councils ought to feel ashamed of their practices at the expense of citizens. As a matter of fact, those distributing land unfairly, for whatever gains should immediately be removed from their positions! Such unethical practices cannot be tolerated, especially not when it comes to something such as land, in a country with a history plagued with inequality and the denial of land ownership to the majority. The patience of the people is running out.

    That people in positions of power have the audacity to take part in such practices should be an indication of the lack of transparency being nothing new and one can only begin to imagine how many other corrupt practices go unheard of on a daily basis. A radical paradigm shift is needed in order to have long-lasting change in all sectors. If it requires for laws to be strengthened, then that burden rests on the judiciary.

    If it requires the Anti-Corruption to be given more powers, then let that be. The demographics in land and business ownership 27 years ago are not as different from those today as they are supposed to be. The shift after 27 years is simply not adequate. The fact that land needs to be bought by the government from beneficiaries of colonialism is fair. The rate at which this land is bought is questionable though. What constitutes “fair”? In status quo, “fair” is market value. It is beyond me how that is fair when the way the land was taken was not fair to begin with. The metric is flawed when considering the history and this is the reason why so much land is still in the hands of the colonial beneficiaries. This is the reason why they, the minority, are still economically ahead, why they are the ones who run majority of the businesses and why they can afford shares in various companies in all sectors.

    This is why their children are taught at private schools and systematically their dominance in society continues, generation after generation. And even if they sold their land, the only ones who would have access to it to begin with are the elite. It is simple, if you have the land, you have power. And this is the reason why independence becomes less meaningful to the masses. They might have all other freedoms, but for as long as they do not have land, they are not truly independent.

    When the municipality destroys the shacks of those who do not have homes, then it becomes questionable what independence means. We are not free until we have an economy for all. We are not free for as long as more money allows for others to be denied equal opportunities. The lack of transparency and accountability within our systems in unacceptable, because somewhere, somehow, someone will suffer the effects. Those who cannot afford private schools suffer the consequences, because corruption means less stationery, less or no textbooks in those schools. Those who cannot afford private healthcare suffer because corruption means less money available for medication, which means a lower quality or a lower quantity of medication. Let us work towards a Namibia in which we can boast transparency and accountability, one in which the economy benefits the masses. Let us work towards a Namibia in which independence becomes something meaningful.

    *Patience Masua is a first-year student studying towards a Bachelor's degree in law (Honours) at the University of Namibia

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    Pre- and post-independence trade unionismPre- and post-independence trade unionism The approach of Namibian Football Players Union (NAFPU) to serve their members and represent all football players' pleas to the Namibian Football Association (NFA) is an example of what an ideal trade union should be. Trade unions according to the Labour Act of 2007 require all trade unions to regulate relations between employees, soccer players and their employers Namibian Premier League (NPL). Trade unions would indulge in all types of strikes and engagements to benefit their members more especially when remuneration, conditions and the socio-political environment of their members are compromised.

    In essence trade unions arose from workers' demands from their employers for better wages and better work conditions. Trade unions in Namibia are arguably likely to suffer all kind of challenges. Similar challenges can be traced to the 18th to mid-19th centuries when they faced legal challenges and the harsh laws that were passed to limit their ability, such as regulations on wages and conditions as they were regarded to be in the jurisdictions of the law makers and the courts and not the trade union per se. Some academics would argue that trade unions are seen as unjustifiably interfering in disputes which courts could resolve, that the issues of wages were matters of economic laws of demand and supply and that wages should be determined by the free labour market and not the trade unions.

    However, there are several trade unions in operation today in Namibia, such as the craft union, industrial union, public sector union, professional unions, white collar unions and the general unions. Pre-independence unions in Namibia could be traced back to the 1920s when the first trade union called South African Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (I.C.U.) was formed. This union was mainly there to represent the coloured people in Lüderitz and most of the secretariats were from the Union of South Africa, now known as the Republic of South Africa. The union faced a lot of social, economic and legal battles and it subsequently failed. In the 1950s the South West African Student Body (SWASB) was formed and its major goal was to represent the student of South West Africa who were studying in the Republic of South Africa and in Namibia, and its secondary aim was to advocate against the contract labour system and abolish it. Namibians of the 1950s were not allowed to form or join in labour unions and this prompted intellectuals such as Andimba Toivo ya Toivo to form the Ovambo People's Organisation and later, renamed to the South West African People Organisation (Swapo). They were also advocating against the contract labour systems which were harsh. On 24 April 1970, Swapo formed the first trade union called the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) and it was constituted under the Labour Department. By the 1970s NUNW had branches in major towns in Namibia. NUNW mobilised some of the major strikes in the 1970s and advocated against the working conditions of the workers such as the pass, poor accommodation, food, employment contracts and wages. Following another strike in 1978 the Wiehahn Commission recognised African trade unions in Namibia, and this led to the formation of trade unions such as NAFAU, NATAU, NAPWU, MUN, NANTU and many other unions that were affiliated to the NUNW as a federation. It is important to know that before 1990, trade unions had a secondary objective and that was to contribute to the liberation struggle of Namibia.

    In post-independent Namibia, trade unions are considered to have lost their mandate and are generally considered to be unreliable. The constitution caters for the rights of individuals to join any association of their choice.

    Employers tend to bully their employees from joining any association of their choice. Clearly the constitution of Namibia is being violated by employers, as can be clearly seen by some soccer players being threatened by club owners from joining the NAFPU for example. There are challenges that post-independence trade unions face, such as lack of funds. Some unions find it hard to act independently as they did prior to independence as they are affiliated to the employer or the government. The affiliation of union to the government makes it hard for the union to challenge labour policies and unfair practices.

    As many organisations are facing financial crises, retrenchment is at the centre of many businesses.

    This makes it hard for trade unions to survive financially to fuel their operations. Some trade unions' positions are compromised in representing their members as some union secretariat members are on the boards of some companies and this makes it hard for trade unions to engage objectively with different organisations. It is therefore the constitutional right of any Namibian to participate or to associate with any political party, trade union and civil society of one's choice.

    *Brian Ngutjinazo has a Bachelor's degree in commerce from the University of Namibia and is currently registered for Honours in Political Science

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    Fair resource allocation: A recipe for a strong Namibian HouseFair resource allocation: A recipe for a strong Namibian House Recently, the Municipality of Walvis Bay ordered police officers to remove shacks of people in Walvis Bay whom they claimed occupied plots illegally. This comes after the City of Windhoek took a similar approach late March when they destroyed shacks in the 7de Laan informal settlement. The issue of land has since independence been a justifiable complaint of so many young Namibians who cannot afford high rent in fancy suburbs.

    Instead of amicable solutions being found, few elite Namibians continue to own thousands of hectares of land while the majority of less fortunate Namibians still have to live without land of their own. Following the suspension of the football league in the country, the Namibian Football Players Union gave a wounded statement last week saying the Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Service has killed sports in the country, setting the tone for the way forward in the redevelopment of football in Namibia. Therefore, trade unions have since independence served as a means to represent a certain section of people in a workplace - to voice the needs of those they represent. After independence, they have been vocal compared to pre-independence with the only problem being that some union leaders have gone to bed with their superiors at the expense of those they represent. In today's edition of the Astute Conversation, our second-time writer Patience writes about a country failing its people. Brian talks about the activities of trade unions before and after independence in Namibia.

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  • 05/15/17--16:00: Möller murder trial delayed
  • Möller murder trial delayedMöller murder trial delayed The absence of legal representation for three of the five men arrested in connection with the murder of Hans Möller is delaying the trial.

    “The provision of legal aid for accused Gotlieb Panduleni, Elly Ndapuka Hinavali and Malakia Shiweda is delaying the trial and should be attended to. The investigation has been completed and I am placing the matter on the court roll for legal aid and bail,” said Magistrate John Sindano yesterday.

    He postponed the case against Panduleni (30), David Tashiya (29), David Shekundja (35), Hinavali (29) and Shiweda (28) to 15 June.

    Prosecutor Tresia Hafeni informed the court that lawyer Dube Mpokiseng, who represents Tashiya and Shekundja, could not be present due to obligations at the Regional Court.

    “This case is important and Mpokiseng needs to ensure that he is available and in court for the next appearance of the accused,” instructed Sindano.

    Panduleni told the court he had applied for legal aid but had not received a reference number yet.

    Hinavali said he was waiting for his relatives to deliver his birth certificate before applying for legal aid while the lawyer appointed for Shiweda by the Legal Aid Board is no longer available and must be replaced. Mpokiseng informed the court in February that Panduleni and Shiweda had submitted applications for legal aid and the Legal Aid Board was sorting out their files. He also explained that Hinavali had lost his identification document and said a birth certificate or voter's registration card would be sufficient to ensure he obtained legal assistance.

    The accused are facing charges of murder, attempted murder, assault, housebreaking and armed robbery. They arrived at the court handcuffed and with an armed police escort and were once again met by a crowd waving placards and calling for bail to be denied.

    Hafeni previously opposed bail stating that the suspects posed a high flight risk and given the seriousness of the crime.

    Möller died after he was shot in the stomach while trying to protect his wife, Carol-Ann Sowden Möller, and their two children (aged six and four years) from attackers during an armed robbery at the family's home on 17 June 2016.


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    Jailbreakers still on the runJailbreakers still on the run Today marks exactly 46 days since five awaiting-trial prisoners escaped from the Oshakati police cells.

    None of them has been rearrested and they are suspected to have fled to Angola.

    The five escaped in the early morning hours of 1 April after cutting open the roof of their cell.

    The Oshana police spokesperson, Sergeant Frieda Shikole, yesterday confirmed that no arrest had been made yet.

    The escapees, who were described as “very dangerous”, were identified as Arsandri Wendelinus (27), accused of rape in 2013; Theodor Sebedeus (26), accused of murder in 2013; Lukas Simeon (26), charged with murder and rape in 2012; Johaness Haihambo (20) charged with robbery and assault in 2016; and Iipinge Gustav (28), also known as 'Tupac', who is facing charges of murder, assault and malicious damage to property dating back to 2015.

    The police have not released any photographs of the five fugitives.

    Namibian Sun last month reported that the Inspector-General of the Namibian police, Sebastian Ndeitunga, had instructed the Oshana regional commander, Commissioner Rauha Amwele, to charge the officers who had been on duty at the time of the escape with negligence.

    “This is the most disturbing news, as I had given proper instructions to all regional commanders and station commanders that they should put in place strict measures to make sure that no more escapes from police stations take place, and whoever disobeys the order will be charged,” Ndeitunga had said last month.

    Yesterday, Ndeitunga said three officers had been charged for being negligent while on duty.

    Ndeitunga expressed his disappointment at the fact that the closed-circuit television (CCTV) at the police station was out of order on the day of the escape.

    “What happened was that the CCTV was not functioning that day because there was something that was faulty and that's why I initially asked them why they did not report that the CCTV was out of order,” Ndeitunga said.

    Ndeitunga said once the suspects were rearrested they would likely inform on those who had helped them to escape, hinting that officers might have had a hand in the escape.


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  • 05/15/17--16:00: SPYL CC meeting questioned
  • SPYL CC meeting questionedSPYL CC meeting questionedSaturday's decisions may be invalid The SPYL secretary for labour and justice says Saturday's central committee meeting did not follow proper procedure. Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) acting secretary Veikko Nekundi has been asked to reverse a decision to nominate candidates for the positions of secretary and deputy secretary when the youth league holds its congress in August.

    Writing to Nekundi, SPYL secretary for labour and justice Sydney Ganeb questioned the legality of Saturday's meeting, saying that the National Executive Committee did not meet the quorum requirement to set the wheels in motion for the central committee (CC) meeting.

    According to him, the NEC's inability to convene also meant that nomination and vetting procedures had not been adhered to.

    Writing to Nekundi, he said: “The National Executive Committee [NEC] which consists of 11 members, did not have the necessary quorum, a simple majority of five plus one, to legally sit on 12 May 2017 and prepare periodic reports for the central committee and to formulate the nominations and vetting policy for adoption by the central committee amongst other business of that house.”

    According to Ganeb, this was customary practice and had not been carried out. “I have from my desk submitted reports for discussion and adoption of the NEC to you and the members of the NEC. This reports included the draft nominations and vetting policy of the SPYL which in my view as is the practice in the organisation was supposed to be discussed and adopted before we take it to the central committee for same. This has not happened,” said Ganeb.

    “It is logical then that only after such discussions at NEC and CC the document would then become operational. The draft policy was not discussed or debated at NEC as NEC did not have a quorum to sit. Thus its draft policy could not have been taken to central committee for discussion or adoption.”

    Explaining the nomination process to Nekundi, he said: “The nominations as you are aware in the history of SPYL have traditionally been made after all the structures have been given an opportunity to nominate. This is to promote democracy within the organisation and to allow members through their representatives to nominate leaders of their choice for secretary and deputy positions. Doing otherwise will rob these members and deny them their rights.

    “The central committee usually announces after it has agreed on nomination process, vetting and rules that the period for nominations is now open and give details of the nomination process to all structures with a set deadline after which all nominations are to be received by a vetting committee as established by the NEC, which in this case has not been done as the NEC have not sit under quorum on 12 May 2017,” he added. Asking Nekundi to set matters right, he said: “I wish to implore on you to do the right thing and follow the provisions of the SPYL constitution and provide the regional structures to participate in this process, it is the right of all members of SPYL to choose their preferred candidates and for central committee to hastily take such a decision borders around unconstitutionality which every angle you are looking at it.”

    National Youth Council chairman Mandela Kapere and Ephraim Nekongo are in the running for the position of youth league secretary while Christine Haindaka, Mogale Karimbue and Immanuel Shikongo are in the running for the position of deputy secretary.


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    Govt accused of ethnic 'cleansing'Govt accused of ethnic 'cleansing''No land, no vote' The Landless People's Movement (LPM) says the government employs tribal considerations in urban and rural land allocations. The Landless People's Movement (LPM) says the Namibian government is engaging in what it calls “ethnic exclusion and ethnic cleansing through social engineering” and that President Hage Geingob has “created a wall” against the movement to suppress its views.

    One of its members, Seth !Nowaseb, says while the government is “pretending” that the country is unified, there are strong tribal and ethnic undercurrents used since independence to “reward” certain groups while excluding others.

    He says this can be clearly observed from top jobs in government ministries, agencies and offices, as well as study bursaries that are “90%” granted to one particular ethnic group.

    This, the LPM says, is also evident in allocations of farmland and urban land.

    “This is dangerous and we appeal to President Geingob to deal with tribalism in the government,” !Nowaseb said at a press briefing of the LPM in Katutura yesterday.

    He added: “While some people are eating from the high table others are fighting for crumbs.”

    The group claims that city councillors in Windhoek are “targeting” Damara, Nama and Ovaherero groups in evictions and “random removals”.

    Pastor Isak Kharob of Okahandja Park, an informal settlement in Windhoek, claims that land allocations there were done “corruptly” in favour of a certain tribal group to the detriment of others.

    Diana Geingos from Karibib says a number of landless people have illegally occupied land because the town's municipality refused to give land to people who were born there.

    “We will not vote if we cannot get land,” says Geingos.

    Rebekka Vleermuis from Stampriet says farmworkers who have lost their jobs are dumped at the village with their livestock depleting and no livelihoods. She proposed that the government request land from surrounding farmers for former farmworkers.

    “We do not want war. What we are asking is a piece of land in peace. We want ancestral land back in peace,” says Vleermuis.

    A former farmworker, Isack !Nowaseb, says he had 150 goats when he lost his job on Farm Debalt in the Omaheke Region. He says he now has only three goats left after having been dumped at Gobabis.

    !Nowaseb says he requested Omaheke governor Festus Ueitele to consider him for resettlement, but he claims the governor said that he had “no land for Damara or San in my pocket”.

    According to !Nowaseb the governor said only those from Katima Mulilo or Eiseb Block with at least 800 cattle and 80 goats would be considered for resettlement in Omaheke.

    “The government has started the resettlement programme to help the poor. What rule is there that states to acquire land one has to have so many animals? If this is the case how will the government deal with the issue of poverty?” !Nowaseb wanted to know.

    Ueitele denied all the allegations made by !Nowaseb, saying: “How can he claim that I have said something like that? I am not mad!”

    Ueitele added that as chairperson of the Omaheke Land Board he is strictly guided by the policies and regulations of that body.

    “At no point would I have said there is no land for certain groups,” he reiterated, adding that the land board is made up of chiefs from all tribes.

    “People cannot approach me for resettlement. They can apply only if farms are advertised and then there are conditions. They cannot come to me and ask for farms. I do not have farms to give and at no stage would I have said that people from Katima Mulilo can apply. I am responsible for the upliftment of the lives of people of Omaheke,” said Ueitele.

    Lpm prepares for land conference

    The LPM also reported on meetings it had held in Kunene, //Karas, Erongo, Omaheke, Hardap, Otjozondjupa, Oshikoto and Khomas, where it said the movement was growing in stature because of concern over questionable land allocations.

    It held regional meetings in preparation of the second national land conference this September.

    The LPM plans to hold its own “people's land conference” in Windhoek from 13 to 17 September, preceding the national conference.

    Henny Seibeb was appointed as the chairperson of the LPM's land conference. One of his mandates is to invite local communities, as well as indigenous and peasant movements from around the globe.

    Lamenting 'Non-Engagement' by Mlr

    The LPM says it is worrisome that the Ministry of Land Reform has yet to hold consultative meetings with communities across the country in preparation of the national land conference.

    The group says the “non-engagement” by President Geingob, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, lands minister Utoni Nujoma, as well as Peter Amutenya, the permanent secretary in the lands ministry, is troubling.

    It is of the opinion that the government has not yet done research in preparation for the upcoming conference, while the LPM has done considerable research and documentation.

    “How do you then organise an all-inclusive conference without engaging critical stakeholders like LPM?” the group asked.

    It appealed to President Geingob to appoint a joint committee of government agencies and civil society stakeholders, like the LPM, to research global and local alternatives to land reform in Namibia.

    Criticises Lwf apology

    The LPM further criticised the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) for issuing an apology for the 1904 to 1908 genocide and land dispossession without consultation with affected communities.

    The LPM said local Lutheran churches should withdraw the apology and begin to engage with their congregants to encapsulate their sentiments about these matters.

    It accused the Lutheran churches in Namibia as well as the Roman Catholic Church of having amassed large tracts of land through dispossessions and land grabs during the colonial period. It said the churches have since then continued to acquire land in urban and rural areas.


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    Family loses everything in house fireFamily loses everything in house fire After a devastating fire ravaged her home and all her belongings, a 59-year-old Otjiwarongo domestic worker says she doesn't dwell on what was lost, but only hopes to build a new but “small home” to replace the one she lost on Cassinga Day this month.

    “I don't feel shocked or sad even. I mean, there is not anything I can change about what happened,” Paulina Nihale, who turns 60 in August, told Namibian Sun last week. Nihale's five-room shack burnt down on the morning of 4 May while she was drinking tea at her sister's house in the Otjiwarongo informal settlement. She says the only thing that makes her “a little sad” is the loss of her 13-year-old daughter's schoolbooks and uniform and having to rely on others for a place to stay. She said she is unsure how she will afford to replace her daughter's uniform, books and stationery in time before school starts.

    Nihale shared the home with her daughter and three grandchildren until last Thursday.

    Over the 25 years she lived in that home, she and her late husband extended it into a three-bedroom house, with a living room and a kitchen.

    Now the family is scattered among friends, where they have found temporary shelter, a situation Nihale hopes will change as soon as possible.

    A place to call her own

    She explained that she tries not to think about the wholesale loss of her home and assets, but is focused only on erecting a new home on her small property.

    And although she values her independence she understands that due to the unexpected tragedy, she will have to lean on the generosity and kindness of others to help her rebuild her life.

    She knows however that what was lost in an instant after it was accrued over more than two decades, can never be replaced entirely.

    “I just want a new home, even if it only has one or two rooms, and maybe someone to help with a bed and some basic items. I am not used to living with other people,” Nihale said.

    Over the years, she managed to fill the house with prized possessions, including cupboards, a new television, several beds, a deep-freeze and fridge, a washing machine and an old sewing machine she used to make clothes.

    All was destroyed in the fire. “I will never be able to replace those things again. There is no one who can help with that. Who and how? Everything that was in that house, I built and gathered over many years.”

    The fire also destroyed all the family documents, including national identity documents, birth certificates, school certificates, books and photographs.

    On the day she spoke to Namibian Sun during a visit to her former home, she said the clothes she was wearing, as well as the blankets and other essential items needed daily, had been donated by family and friends.

    “There was nothing, absolutely nothing, we could save,” she said.

    Seven lives

    Nihale and her youngest daughter's greatest relief is that their beloved ginger cat Snoukie survived the fire.

    Nihale recounted that when her 14-year-old daughter, who is currently visiting relatives in Walvis Bay, heard about the fire, her first question was whether the cat had managed to escape.

    “My daughter only wanted to know whether the cat was okay.” When she was unable to find the cat, her daughter was devastated.

    At 05:00 the next morning, Nihale decided to go back to the scorched house to look for the cat again.

    When she called out, Snoukie emerged from the blackened remains of the house and a relieved Nihale called her daughter with the good news. The cat is now safely staying with her at her older daughter's home.

    Angry response

    By the time she arrived at the scene after she was told about the fire, it was all over.

    “When I got there, the house and everything in it had already burnt to the ground.”

    Neighbours had doused the fire to the best of their ability, before the fire brigade arrived at the scene.

    A report issued by the Otjiwarongo fire brigade shows that the crew withdrew shortly after arrival “due to the aggressive attitude of the public” at the scene.

    The report indicated that the “violent behaviour” of the crowds resulted in a shattered front screen of a fire brigade vehicle, after someone threw an object at the vehicle.

    Two members of the public were arrested and later released on bail.

    Nihale told Namibian Sun that she was did not know why the crowd was angry but suspected it had to do with the response time to the fire.

    Calls to the Otjiwarongo fire brigade went unanswered.

    Nihale made an official statement at the police station the day after the fire, but told Namibian Sun she was not provided with a case number and has to date not been contacted by an officer investigating the cause of the fire.

    She said the cause of the fire remains unknown, though it was highly likely that it was connected to an old electricity box in her home.


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